I had a far ranging debate last night that, among its several features, touched on clones. They weren’t what that debate was really about, and this post isn’t really what that debate was about. But, it got me thinking about how we think about clones.
I suspect, if pressed to give an off-the-cuff answer, most of us would describe a clone as a copy. And, because we think of them as a copy, we tend to think of them as being some kind of facsimile of the original. As such, we imagine them having many of the same characteristics of the original, even going so far as imaging them to have the same personality or even memories.
The reality of clones are far more complex. For clones gestated from contributed biological material, the similarity to the original may only be as much as that biology allows, which can often be far less than we imagine. Even with exact biological similarity, time, nature, and experience will mold the clone into something ultimately independent of the original beyond the constraints biology creates. Even if, somehow, the clone is an exact biological and experiential replica of the original, the moment it becomes independent, it becomes individual.
I think our preconceptions about things like clones speak to our preconceptions about a lot of life. It’s useful to sometimes take a step back and examine those preconceptions because, sometimes, we discover what we thought isn’t what’s true at all.