Re: Are First Person prime?

From: David Nyman <>
Date: Fri, 04 Aug 2006 11:45:07 -0000

Hi Bruno

I think before commenting on the axioms you present I would want to
place them within something more inclusive along the lines of:

1) FP1 = context = 'subjectivity'
2) TP = content = 'objectivity'
3) FP2 = FP1 + TP


4) If p is knowable then p is TP in context of FP1
5) If k is a knower then k is FP2 in context of FP1
6) If n is known then n is TP in context of FP2

This further implies that:

7) FP2 is knowable
8) FP2 may be known
9) FP1 is not knowable

'FP1' and 'FP2' are used in the senses I have previously given, with
'TP' as 'third person' in the sense of any schema whatsoever for
differentiating the 'directly uttered' FP1 subjective context. The
intention is to present an 'outsideless' approach to reality that
nevertheless allows for the definition of boundaries that delimit
information flow and representation, and consequently 'knowing',
'knowability' and 'knowledge', in the ways characteristic of
'individual first persons'.


Bruno Marchal wrote:

> Hi David (Nyman),
> Let me sum up and conclude (and then we can discuss more details and
> technical stuff elsewhere for example on the everything-list).
> I think we agree on the importance of the first person points of view.
> I think David Deutsch and Everett would agree there.
> Now, and this is a methological remark, I think that if you want to
> make the first person primitive, given that neither you nor me can
> really define it, you will need at least to axiomatize it in some way.
> Here is my question. Do you agree that a first person is a knower, and
> in that case, are you willing to accept the traditional axioms for
> knowing. That is:
> 1) If p is knowable then p is true;
> 2) If p is knowable then it is knowable that p is knowable;
> 3) if it is knowable that p entails q, then if p is knowable then q is
> knowable
> (+ some logical rules).
> In this case or with other axioms, I would be able to make sense of
> your enterprise. Informally, I can understand your feeling to make the
> first person primitive (indeed we address any third person discourse
> eventually from a first person point of view, but from this, you should
> not infer the basic scientific discourse needs to rely on a first
> person discourse, as opposed to some third person presentation of an
> axiomatic describing the notion of first person (like we *do* here and
> now btw).
> Godel knew already that formal provability does not obey to the axiom
> above, so that formal provability cannot be used without nuances for
> modeling a notion of knowledge, but by defining knowledge by
> "provable-and-true", like in Plato's Theaetetus, we *are* led to such a
> knowledge notion which already can explain why it is not definable by
> the machine, justifying your feeling of primtiveness and irreducibility
> feeling about it. More later perhaps because I'm busy this week.
> Bruno
> Le 31-juil.-06, à 19:03, David Nyman a écrit :
> > --- In, Bruno Marchal <marchal@...>
> > wrote:
> >
> >> At this stage you should try to be specific about the reasons why an
> >> hardware independent isomorphism cannot exist, or perhaps you are
> >> just saying that "first person feeling" would not be genuine if they
> >> were not related to some 'physical reality' in which case I could
> >> agree
> >
> > I feel we're getting quite close to any genuine difference between us
> > on these issues, so I'll try my best to clarify. I still believe
> > there are some vocabulary problems, so first I'll have another go at
> > pinning these down (sorry, but please be patient!). One thing that
> > strikes me is that there are (at least) two distinctly different
> > usages of the term `first person':
> >
> > `First person 1' (FP1) is used when I mean to indicate my own internal
> > centred perspective, `looking out', as it were, on the world. It is
> > the word `I' exclusively as used reflexively by a first person about
> > him/ herself. As such, it can't be reported in third person
> > narrative, only directly *uttered* by some FP1-centred individual. I
> > will call it 'FP1-I'.
> >
> > `First person 2' (FP2) is used to describe a point-of-view within a
> > third person narrative. For example:
> >
> > David thought about the problem and realised - "I am confused again!"
> >
> > The narrative contains the *description* of a first person
> > characterised as `David', whose point-of-view we would call a `first
> > person position'. The use of `I' here is understood to be this
> > *narrative* David's reference to himself. As such it's 'FP2-I'
> >
> > Throughout these discussions, when I have used terms such as `first
> > person, `personal, or `presence' to describe the context within which
> > `individual first persons' IMO could arise, I have meant the sense
> > given in FP1. The intuition that I have is that even when you `strip
> > away' the structuring that provides the perceptual mechanism and its
> > experiential content, what remains must be an FP1-type context - the
> > `Big `I', if you like, the `arena' within which all else takes place.
> > And this 'Big I' could only be 'directly uttered' - metaphorically in
> > this case - by a 'Big FP1'. It is *not* an FP2-type description in
> > a third person narrative.
> >
> > The intuition at the heart of this is that if what I'm calling an
> > FP1-type context is the fundamental ontology, then there is no
> > requirement for the 'FP1-I' to suddenly `spring into existence' when
> > FP2-describable points-of-view subsequently emerge as a consequence of
> > third-person structuring. The idea of such an otherwise completely
> > novel ontology `springing into being' in this way has always struck me
> > as fundamentally incoherent.
> >
> >> From this perspective, the discourses of QM, MW, mathematics, comp
> > etc. take place in terms of `third person' structuring of an FP1-type
> > context. Direct FP1-type experience is derived from the global
> > `self-intimacy' of this context with a particular sort of structural
> > content (what I have termed `perceiver/ percept' dyads). Why
> > `self'-intimacy? To eliminate any notion of `observers'. By
> > `self-intimacy I mean to say that such knowledge is an immediate
> > apprehension by the context of its own content, which is why I've
> > termed it an `equivalence', not a `property'. Consequently, individual
> > FP1-type content (`experience') is the direct, immediate acquaintance
> > of demarcated perceivers with aspects of their own structure.
> >
> > `Third person' is then just a narrative or description of this same
> > structure. The world outside the individual, containing other first
> > persons and all manner of additional paraphernalia, is likewise `third
> > person' when read as narrative by first persons (including, of course,
> > their individual representations of shared interpersonal discourse).
> > Notwithstanding this, all of it exists fundamentally `in its own
> > right' as FP1-type context+content (i.e. not just the regions of it
> > that happen to be demarcated `first persons').
> >
> > I think I'm also able to clarify here why I believe that a certain
> > kind of `structural isomorphism' is the underlying basis of our own
> > phenomenal experience. Since the FP1-type context is, as it were, a
> > superposition of all activity (including that activity read as
> > `experience' by perceivers), we must hypothesise within it organising
> > schemas that demarcate different functional levels. It seems clear
> > that within the `physical' domain, such schemas are supported by the
> > physical `laws of form'. Consequently, IMO, such `laws of form' must
> > be established (and within the comp hypothesis, this could be by
> > `physical substrate emulation') to establish the structural
> > relationships which are read by the `perceiver' component of the
> > structure as `experiential content'. By contrast, if the behaviour of
> > the `substrate' at this level is unconstrained (e.g. because the
> > `code' can be run on an arbitrary set of hardwares conforming to a
> > common syntactical rule-set), the `semantic coherence' at this level
> > of the FP1-type context would IMO be undefined.
> >
> >> I am not sure. Feel free to dig in that direction, but it seems to
> >> me it is easier to accept some sharable part of 3-mathematics and
> >> build from that. Especially when we have an unavoidable
> >> self-reference for a vast class of machines. Thanks to Turing & Co.
> >> we can see, like Godel already saw in 1933, that godelian
> >> self-reference cannot describe a knower, but then, using some math
> >> trick we can define a knower in term of self-reference+ truth which
> >> provides a good candidate for a notion of first person (even
> >> unameable by the machine). Somehow a "physical reality" is what
> >> Number-Nature needs for entangling closely enough the many possible
> >> independent computations, so as to made first person stable and
> >> partially sharable. *many*-worlds prevent such approaches against
> >> solipsism. Perhaps I agree that the context in which particular
> >> personhood arises is first person (plural), but the context in which
> >> personhood per se arise is eventually "reducible" to the behavior of
> >> the roots of a universal diophantine polynomial (or choose your
> >> favorite turing universal systems).
> >
> > We appear to be more or less agreeing here, especially what you say
> > about '"physical reality" is what Number-Nature needs for entangling
> > closely enough the many possible independent computations, so as to
> > made first person stable and partially sharable' - which is more or
> > less what I meant by 'organising schemas' necessary for 'semantic
> > coherence' above. However, again based on my 'FP1-type' idea above, I
> > would have to say that 'the behavior of the roots of a universal
> > diophantine polynomial' would be an aspect of a fundamentally
> > FP1-type context - perhaps what you so delightfully term
> > 'Number-Nature' - the 'ultimate FP1'.
> >
> >> That eventually there is a duality making it possible to choose the
> >> first person point of view as the most basic one cannot yet be
> >> entirely ruled out for sure, but comp and the quantum without
> >> collapse makes it as unlikely imo.
> >
> > Do you still feel this notwithstanding my FP1/ FP2 distinction? We
> > would be saying that whatever we take to be basic must be an 'FP1-type
> > context', for the reasons I argue above.
> >
> >> OK, but do you see this moves invite you to provide a definition of
> >> "first person" in third person term. Comp succeeds partially, but
> >> then justified completely why its success cannot be but partial.
> >> Indeed eventually the physical appearances emerges from the never
> >> completely specifiable border of the person. The platonic number
> >> does not emerge, and I agree they are mysterious, but here too we
> >> can understand that we cannot infer our beliefs in them from any
> >> weaker beliefs.
> >
> > I agree that 'first person' (i.e. FP2 according to my schema) can be
> > defined in third person terms. However IMO FP1 cannot be so 'defined'
> > but only 'directly uttered'. This means that the manifest existence
> > of FP1 entails that we assign primacy to something that is capable of
> > such 'direct utterance'. I agree that (per comp) the Platonic number
> > 'does not emerge' - i.e. has primacy - and that consequently its basic
> > ontology in my terms must be FP1.
> >
> >> If this is wishful thinking, then this an example of recursion. But
> >> then that's not wishful thinking, so it is not an example of
> >> recursion. But then it is wishful thinking ... ... and then it is
> >> certainly an example of meta-recursion
> >
> > Mmmm..
> >
> >> ... (I will stop here ;)
> >
> > Ah! Does this prove you're not a TM?
> >
> > David
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
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> >
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Received on Fri Aug 04 2006 - 07:47:10 PDT

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