(If people prefer to discuss it there, that's fine, but I don't want to be responsible for hijacking the thread from its intended subject.)
Often people will say something like, "If such and such had happened differently in the distant past (before I was concieved), what would my life be like now?"
How should we interpret such statements? My assumption is that such statements (questions) are not meant to be interpreted literally, since any change in the past, however small, would have almost certainly resulted in my never having been concieved in the first place. Had a butterfly flapped its wings a little differently in the Amazon Rain Forest a couple of weeks before my being conceived, major weather patterns on the other side of the globe would be affected, due to the instability of the equations that govern such things (Navier Stokes Equations?), affecting traffic patterns, causing my parents to arive home at different times, etc, etc, etc,...eventually resulting in my not even being concieved.
In short, we are all the result of the entire history of the universe, down to the smallest detail, and would not exist but for all that history.
The way that I tend to interpret such a statements is as a metaphorical statement about a class of people who would exist now (and who I would identify with) as a result of some alternate history, due to the change in the past.
So, for example, if MBM says something about where he would be had the slavery of Africans never occured, under my interpretation, he is talking not really about himself (who would not exist) in this alternate history, but rather a metaphorical way of talking about some unspecified group of people that actually would exist at this point in time in the alternate history. That group of people would likely be a group of people with whome he would identify, as a first approximation, the descendants of his anscestors in the alternate history, the descendants of all those who were kidnapped and enslaved in our history but not in the alternate history, or with the subset of those African descendants who would have immigrated here (voluntarily) in the alternate history.
Any of these possibilities (and many others) seem to me to be a reasonable interpretation. What does not seem to me to be a reasonable interpretation would be to take it literally, as a statement about where he (MBM) would be personally under the alternate history.
I'm wondering what other people (including MBM! ) think about this interpretation of such statements. Or do people think that such statements are literal, rather than metaphorical?
"La vida te da sorpresas...