This is part of a creative project, which you can read about here.
Do you believe in something most people don’t? What keeps you believing?
I believe I am a member of many worlds. That is to say, I think every logically possible way that anything could be is the way some world really is. And all the worlds are equally real. We just happen to live in this world, but it’s not special. It’s just where we happen to be, just like how here is where I happen to be sitting as I write this.
This idea, that logically possible worlds are equally real, is called modal realism, and its most famous proponent was the late American philosopher, David Kellogg Lewis. Most people don’t believe Lewis’ theory of real possible worlds, and he took great pains to show that an incredulous stare is no argument against the view.
I’m afraid my beliefs are even weirder. You see, in addition to modal realism, I also accept the Buddhist doctrine of no-self. I don’t think there are such things as selves, or souls of any kind. That is, there is nothing stable and fixed which makes me, me. And it gets worse.
Since every logically possible world is real, there is a world for every possible copy of me. There are worlds exactly like this one, except that one molecule in my nose is different. Or should I say his nose? I would say that, except I don’t think there is a core me. All I am is a bundle of experiences and apparent memories, from which my idea of self is generated. But his experiences and memories are indiscernible from mine.
I could be him and not know it.
Since there are an indefinite number of worlds in which there are duplicate persons who all seem to think they are me, I cannot be sure which world I’m in. As crazy and mind boggling as that is, it’s even more mind boggling to consider that there will be even more worlds that are almost like this one. I might even discover the fact that I have (apparently) moved from one world to another. I might experience apparent recollections as of things in the world having been slightly different than they are.
Usually, I will chalk these discrepancies up to errors in memory. Yet, I can never be sure, on any given occasion, that I have misremembered the way this world actually is not or whether I have accurately “remembered” the way a different world really was.
How would you answer the prompt?