Every day I wake up from sleep, that 'little slice of death', and becomeImagine the following thought-experiment. My soul is in hell, and I am being tormented by a demon dentist who is removing my teeth by drilling through their nerves in an exquisitely painful way. My agonising screams are echoing through the halls of the inferno. After all my teeth are removed, they are supernaturally replaced, and the whole process begins again. I understand that this process is to continue infinitely. (There is a colourful depiction of the infinity of hell by James Joyce here).
conscious. Imagine the following thought-experiment. I wake up an infinite
number of times. Could I have a conscious moment after that infinite sequence?
Is it possible that there could be a waking moment belonging to my consciousness
such that there are an infinite number of waking moments before that? Surely
not. I can't think of an argument to prove it, rather, it seems an irreducible
part of my idea of consciousness that I cannot conceive of an actual or
'completed' infinity of conscious moments.
While I am waiting for the demon to replace my teeth, a Cantorean angel whispers to me. I must not despair. After this process has been repeated infinitely many times, my soul will enter a transfinite Cantorean paradise. I will still be conscious of every one of the infinite moments that has passed in hell. But those moments will now be behind me. They have all happened, infinitely many of them, an infinite number of teeth drilled out and replaced.
Now I ask. Does the pronouncement give me any hope? Surely not. I cannot hope ever to escape this infinite painful process; I have no hope. But if the consciousness in the Cantorean paradise were my consciousness, I would have such a hope. Therefore the consciousness in the Cantorean paradise cannot be my consciousness.
My consciousness is a set of conscious moments tied together by their belonging to a single consciousness. Any future moment must be such that I can hope or expect to experience it by the process of waiting. Thus no future moment of the same consciousness can be such that it is preceded by an infinite number of such moments belonging. For I cannot hope or expect the experience of such a moment. I would be waiting for and expecting something that will never happen to me. (I concede it is logically possible that such a moment could happen to someone else, who was remembering my conscious moments as if they were my own, but more on that later).