The Stream of Consciousness and Personal Identity

14 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2019

See all articles by Keith Wiley

Keith Wiley

Brain Preservation Foundation

Date Written: August 10, 2019


This article marks the five-year anniversary of the publication of my book, A Taxonomy and Metaphysics of Mind-Uploading, and is loosely a celebration of the past five years. I first discuss the challenges of discovering and debating metaphysical truths. I then tackle an argument against discontinuous mind uploading, such as via scan-and-copy, based on the claim that it fails to preserve a purported temporal stream of consciousness, thereby losing the original metaphysical personal identity and invoking a replacement identity in the upload. This article investigates the stream of consciousness claim from several angles and concludes that it is not only unsubstantiated in theory, but also incompatible with real-world accounts of how people treat one another in existing medical cases that should, by all accounts, destroy the stream of consciousness. As an alternative, this article suggests that personal identity is better characterized by a person’s memories in the synchronic specious present, with no requirement of diachronic psychological or phenomenal properties.

Keywords: mind uploading, whole brain emulation, personal identity, metaphysics, stream of consciousness

Suggested Citation

Wiley, Keith, The Stream of Consciousness and Personal Identity (August 10, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Keith Wiley (Contact Author)

Brain Preservation Foundation ( email )

Ashburn, WA 20148
United States


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