Here's the scenario: create a list view and apply it to a web part (let's say it's called "View1"), then edit the web part view by selecting, "Edit the current view". Question, does editing the current view forever change View1 or do the edits only affect that web part on that page?

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Editing the web part by selecting "Edit the current view", will only apply to that web part on particular page. It will not affect your list's view.

After editing your web part, you can see the Current view instead of "list view name" in selected view dropdown of the Edit Web Part pane.

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