We watched the time-travel movie Primer in philosophy class last week, and while the plot of the movie is close to incomprehensible (although there are plenty of explanations out there on the internet . . . but those are incomprehensible too) the central premise is easy enough to understand; Abe and Aaron keep looping back in time, in a rather short span, and they screw with their future selves-- Chuck Klosterman calls them "ethical Helen Kellers" . . . and this makes a terrible mess of their lives, their relationships, their careers, and their physical well-being; this leads to some mundane questions which we all need to address-- because we are all slowly traveling into the future:
1) how should you ethically behave towards your future self?
2) what do you owe to your future self?
3) are you your future self?
4) is your future self someone else?
and while my philosophy class had a great time with these questions (and my examples . . . Past Dave decided to get a tattoo of a giant lizard ripping out of Past Dave's shoulder . . . he had very little consideration for Future Dave, but-- on the other hand-- Past Dave started diligently practicing the guitar in his twenties and travelled around the world, giving Future Dave some rudimentary musical skills and some vivid memories of the Middle and Far East . . . and so you should realize that when you go for a run, you are helping out your future self, but when you drink a bunch of beer and eat a cheesecake, then not so much) and this finally led us to a very weird place, because the newest findings about human memory conclude that every time we recall something, we alter that memory slightly, and our cells and tissue are dying and being replaced all the time . . . and so our Future Selves really are quite different than our Past Selves-- in a sense they are a person only tangentially related to our Present Selves . . . and so it is difficult to be super-concerned with them, yet we know if we start saving money now, or learning Japanese, then this Future Person might really benefit, and this logic finally leads to the Ship of Theseus thought experiment and the ultimate question: is this Porsche really a Porsche?