I have recently been thinking about a comment that one of my philosophy professors made in college that has been causing me a great deal of distress. He said "If you have a problem that you don't want to deal with, go to sleep and let someone else deal with it." meaning that the person who wakes up in the morning is not the same as the person who went to sleep the night before. Is there any validity to this claim? Does our consciousness continue while we sleep or does it stop and then restart? Is the person typing this question the same person who will wake up in my bed tomorrow? If we were replaced each morning by a person with identical memories, wouldn't it appear the same from the inside and the outside? And finally, is this worth getting worked up about? thanks
There are arcane theoretical reasons for thinking that you are not the same person when you wake up. There are also arcane conceptual scenarios that prevent you from being absolutely certain that you are the same person. These considerations are no match for your everyday certainty that it is you, even if they are able to cause short-term anxiety. Your everyday certainty will return, with a faint residue of wonder that we cannot absolutely prove the things we know. That residue is part of the point of doing philosophy. It helps save us from the dogmatic arrogance people are prone to. Your professor was partly joking and partly trying to push you toward this philosophical lesson.