Palantir Watcher

Cognitive Shadows and Feruchemy

10 posts in this topic

I was thinking about the spiritual metals in Feruchemy and about cognitive shadows. I did a quick search and didn't find anyone else making this connection, so hopefully this has some merit.

One of the reasons that some in-world philosophers consider the cognitive shadows as the same person as the recently deceased is probably the fact that at least some of them retain their memories or personality. This seems to be more evident with the Fused who, varying degrees of madness not withstanding, appear to have the same personality across their many "rebirths".

In Feruchemy, aluminum allows a trueself to store their identity. Meanwhile, copper allows an archivist to store their memories. Some real-world philosophies believe our identities are nothing more than the sum of our perceptions, which include our memories. That is, that there is no underlying sense of self that will be the owner of our various ideas, memories and impressions. The existence of "Identity" suggests that this isn't the case in the Cosmere, and that there is a sense of self and "Me" that doesn't quite depend entirely on your experiences. 

If we consider that Identity is what makes you you, then a cognitive shadow will only be the original person if they keep their Identity. Depending on the differences between blanking your Identity and storing all of your memories on a coppermind, this could mean that you can keep your Identity and parts of your personality even if you lose all your memories or that you can keep some aspects of your personality even if you lose your Identity.

While knowledge of the difference between storing Identity and storing all of your memories won't allow in-world philosophers to reach any conclusions regarding whether cognitive shadows are the original or a copy, it might give them further (and perhaps better) proof to support their own opinions. For example, if storing all your memories doesn't make your entire personality disappear and allows you to keep some skills, it could be used as another proof that the Returned are the original people. Or if blanking Identity doesn't affect memories or connections, it could be used as a proof that at least some cognitive shadows are simple copies and not the originals. 

I know that it doesn't really answer the question about them, but I hope this might add a little to the discussion surrounding cognitive shadows, both in-world and in the real one. What do you think? Could this be of some help to the professors at Silverlight? And how could connection work into this? 

That's all I can think of for now. I look forward to what ideas you may have.

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1 hour ago, Palantir Watcher said:

I was thinking about the spiritual metals in Feruchemy and about cognitive shadows. I did a quick search and didn't find anyone else making this connection, so hopefully this has some merit.

One of the reasons that some in-world philosophers consider the cognitive shadows as the same person as the recently deceased is probably the fact that at least some of them retain their memories or personality. This seems to be more evident with the Fused who, varying degrees of madness not withstanding, appear to have the same personality across their many "rebirths".

In Feruchemy, aluminum allows a trueself to store their identity. Meanwhile, copper allows an archivist to store their memories. Some real-world philosophies believe our identities are nothing more than the sum of our perceptions, which include our memories. That is, that there is no underlying sense of self that will be the owner of our various ideas, memories and impressions. The existence of "Identity" suggests that this isn't the case in the Cosmere, and that there is a sense of self and "Me" that doesn't quite depend entirely on your experiences. 

If we consider that Identity is what makes you you, then a cognitive shadow will only be the original person if they keep their Identity. Depending on the differences between blanking your Identity and storing all of your memories on a coppermind, this could mean that you can keep your Identity and parts of your personality even if you lose all your memories or that you can keep some aspects of your personality even if you lose your Identity.

While knowledge of the difference between storing Identity and storing all of your memories won't allow in-world philosophers to reach any conclusions regarding whether cognitive shadows are the original or a copy, it might give them further (and perhaps better) proof to support their own opinions. For example, if storing all your memories doesn't make your entire personality disappear and allows you to keep some skills, it could be used as another proof that the Returned are the original people. Or if blanking Identity doesn't affect memories or connections, it could be used as a proof that at least some cognitive shadows are simple copies and not the originals. 

I know that it doesn't really answer the question about them, but I hope this might add a little to the discussion surrounding cognitive shadows, both in-world and in the real one. What do you think? Could this be of some help to the professors at Silverlight? And how could connection work into this? 

That's all I can think of for now. I look forward to what ideas you may have.

Whether or not a Shadow is the original person comes down to two things:

Does an immortal soul exist?

If it does, does a cognitive shadow retain it or does that soul go Beyond?

Since the first question will never get a definitive answer, by definition we cannot answer the second. So the question will remain a matter of philosophy, not technicality.

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8 hours ago, Kingsdaughter613 said:

Whether or not a Shadow is the original person comes down to two things:

Does an immortal soul exist?

If it does, does a cognitive shadow retain it or does that soul go Beyond?

Since the first question will never get a definitive answer, by definition we cannot answer the second. So the question will remain a matter of philosophy, not technicality.

I agree that it’s a question that can’t really be answered and will remain in the realm of philosophy. My idea simply was that as knowledge of the more cognitive and spiritual metals in Feruchemy spreads, the philosophers discussing cognitive shadows will be able to use Feruchemy to try to argue their opinions.

I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear in my original post.

[Edit]

Just to try to make myself slightly more clear. In the real world, philosophers can pull from advances in the sciences to support their theories. In the question regarding souls, they could look at developments in the neurosciences or in psychology to argue "No, souls don't exist. Science shows that our brains (...) and therefore souls don't exist". While other philosophers might come to different conclusions looking at the same scientific advances. In this example, the matter of souls is still philosophical in nature, not technical or scientific, but science was used to argue or counterargue a point. I believe that Cosmere philosophers would use the aspects of Feruchemy I mentioned in a similar way.

Edited by Palantir Watcher
Add example and hopefully clarity
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4 hours ago, Palantir Watcher said:

I agree that it’s a question that can’t really be answered and will remain in the realm of philosophy. My idea simply was that as knowledge of the more cognitive and spiritual metals in Feruchemy spreads, the philosophers discussing cognitive shadows will be able to use Feruchemy to try to argue their opinions.

I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear in my original post.

[Edit]

Just to try to make myself slightly more clear. In the real world, philosophers can pull from advances in the sciences to support their theories. In the question regarding souls, they could look at developments in the neurosciences or in psychology to argue "No, souls don't exist. Science shows that our brains (...) and therefore souls don't exist". While other philosophers might come to different conclusions looking at the same scientific advances. In this example, the matter of souls is still philosophical in nature, not technical or scientific, but science was used to argue or counterargue a point. I believe that Cosmere philosophers would use the aspects of Feruchemy I mentioned in a similar way.

Ah, got it. Thanks for the clarification!

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Seems that CS do retain Identity, even Returned:

Quote

Oudeis16

If Bob the Awakener Awakened fifty straw men to dance around, then died, then Returned as FormerBob the Appropriately Named, would FormerBob be able to reclaim the Breath from the straw men in the normal fashion (once he learned the "Your Breath to Mine" Command)?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. He has enough of his original Identity, and the spiritual connection would remain.

sonofstannis

What if he instead were reincarnated as a lifeless? Is there a way he could reclaim it then?

Brandon Sanderson

Lifeless have someone else's investiture replacing their own. (As opposed to Returned, who are augmented.) Depends on how much of them is left, and if they can achieve sapience again, but I'd say this is unlikely.

WeiryWriter

What if the Lifeless is Awakened with their own Breath? (i.e. they gave it away right before they died and the person they gave it to then used it in the Awakening)

Brandon Sanderson

This has happened already in the world, and it does help.

-Nayrb

Did this happen "on screen"?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO.

/r/books AMA 2015 (July 30, 2015)

(It's interesting a Lifeless could potentially retain enough, but he does say it's pretty unlikely.)

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3 hours ago, Kingsdaughter613 said:

Ah, got it. Thanks for the clarification!

You're welcome!

1 hour ago, LewsTherinTelescope said:

Seems that CS do retain Identity, even Returned:

(It's interesting a Lifeless could potentially retain enough, but he does say it's pretty unlikely.)

I'd forgotten about that, thanks for reminding me. And a Lifeless possibly retaining some of their Identity is in fact quite interesting. 

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I think that most cognitive shadows would still retain identity and be the same person from before they died, not just a copy. We see when kelsier dies that he is not pulled into the beyond before his cognitive shadow is stabalized by the well. Instead the well seems to somhow fuel his continued existance, and I think there is a change that a cognitive shadow's spiritweb is altered, allowing it to persist eternally and not recognize age as a changing factor. So Returned have to absorb a breatha  weak to fuel the divine breath that tells their spiritweb to ignore age, whereas someone like keslier's spiritweb has been permanently altered to have this change. Probably a lot of holes in this thoery, but I thought it was an interesting take.

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5 minutes ago, Parzival said:

I think that most cognitive shadows would still retain identity and be the same person from before they died, not just a copy. We see when kelsier dies that he is not pulled into the beyond before his cognitive shadow is stabalized by the well. Instead the well seems to somhow fuel his continued existance

Though, there is seemingly a period where he's not aware, so we can't say for certain.

Quote
Fuzz wavered, and Kelsier could sense the divinity’s hesitance. It was followed by a sense of purpose, like a lamp being lit, and laughter.
 
Very well. Be Preserved, Kelsier. Survivor.
 
Something shoved him forward, and Kelsier merged with the light.
 
Moments later he blinked awake. He lay in the misty world still, but his body—or, well, his spirit—had re-formed. He lay in a pool of light like liquid metal. He could feel its warmth all around him, invigorating.

(I'm of the opinion that ultimately they are for all intents and purposes the original person, personally.)

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1 hour ago, LewsTherinTelescope said:

Though, there is seemingly a period where he's not aware, so we can't say for certain.

(I'm of the opinion that ultimately they are for all intents and purposes the original person, personally.)

I had forgotten he was unaware for a bit, but I figure that could be just a side effect of being so close to death and then being pumped full of investiture.

I agree, especially since Returned retain skills and talents even after having their memories wiped.

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1 hour ago, Parzival said:

I agree, especially since Returned retain skills and talents even after having their memories wiped.

Very good point. Even our example of CS least like their original selves still retain a lot.

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