Re: Are First Person prime?

From: David Nyman <>
Date: Sat, 05 Aug 2006 08:03:39 -0700

Hi Bruno

I think you're right about the complexity. It's because at this stage
I'm just trying to discover whether this is a distinction that any of
us think is true or useful, so I'm deliberately (but perhaps not always
helpfully alas) using a variety of terms in the attempt to get my
meaning across (you will recall the difficulties this caused in the FOR
group). However, even 'vaguely' is a start, so I'll count it as a

To make my own summary, I think my key points are:

1) I take some sort of 'first person', in the direct sense I've termed
'FP1', to be primitive because IMO this establishes our 'manifest'
ontology (i.e. that given to us in direct experience) without either
dualism, or 'emergence' from the third person (which IMO is
incoherent). This amounts to saying that any situation or context
which is able to manifest the direct experience of 'I' is in some
fundamental sense 'I all the way down'.

2) However, I don't by this token believe that such a 'global I' (FP1g)
is a 'person' with individual experiential content. The reason is that
FP1g is undifferentiated, and such differentiation is what IMO
demarcates 'perceivers' and their 'perceptual models'. A conceptual
model might be a network where 'persons' are nodes that co-vary, by
sharing information, with other parts of the network to which they are
energetically connected. These nodes are then what I have termed FP1i.

3) About the details of differentiation schemas (comp, physics,
whatever) I'm deliberately agnostic, because my key point is simply to
propose the emergence of 'persons' from the contrast between a seamless
'context' and its differentiated 'content'. I take such persons to
have a 'dyadic' structure ('perceiver' + 'perceptual model') that is
directly experienced, and elements of such direct experience are also
what we call 'third person' when 'read' as information. I do, as you
know, hold certain opinions about the equivalence properties of
experience, but they are not IMO critical in establishing this more
fundamental point.

4) A consequence of the foregoing is that such experiential content can
be 'experienced' (or *is* experience) but not 'known', in the sense of
'if p is true'. This is because experience is 'incorrigible', and
consequently is not open to falsification. 'Knowing' is then an
emergent aspect of the 'third' person - experience read as information.
A key point is that this applies equally to the 'self' as it does to
others, since both are in the same position vis-a-vis the 'shareable
knowledge base' (SKB) that IMO is the basis of 'consensual reality'.
My point here is that the relation of both 'self' and 'others' to
'knowledge' consists of indicating and manipulating parts of the SKB.
'Experience' is the 'means whereby' we grasp this communicable base,
and is consequently itself not communicable.

5) Finally, I think that many conceptual problems come from confusing
the SKB with the referents from which it derives. In 'everyday life'
we tend to act from the belief that the world *itself* is 'third
person' - because its analogs in the SKB are read in that way.

I think this summarises the distinctions I'm trying to make, in a non
rigorous way. If you or George feel inclined to take it further that
would be great, but I guess it would depend on whether, as I've said,
this seems to add anything useful to the enterprise. I could certainly
use some help in any attempt to axiomatise the above.


Bruno Marchal wrote:
> Hi David,
> I think I see, albeit vaguely, what you mean by your distinction, but
> it seems to me more and more complex and based on many non trivial
> notion "objective", "context", "boudaries" . It would be interesting if
> George and you were able to converge to a "sharable" notion of first
> person. I am interested because the first person notion plays a key
> role, both in the UDA reasoning (the first part of my thesis which
> shows that comp forces a reversal between physics and the
> "bio/psych/theology of numbers") and in the beginning of the partial
> but "explicit" part of (propositional) physics we can already extract
> (and compare with quantum logic) when we translate the UDA in purely
> number-theoretical tools (the second part of my thesis).
> To be sure, David, there are too many implicit assumptions, in your
> person distinction in your last posts, which, even in the case you
> would make them clear, would still be too precise so that I cannot
> currently make the comparison. I will say more in the roadmap asap.
> Bruno
> Le 05-août-06, à 02:21, David Nyman a écrit :
> >
> > Hi Bruno
> >
> > I think before commenting on the axioms you present I would want to
> > place them within something more inclusive along the following lines:
> >
> > ('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'.)
> >
> > 1) Global FP1 (FP1g) = 'subjective context'
> > 2) TP = 'objective content'
> > 3) Individual FP1 (FP1i) : perceiver/ model = FP1g + TP
> > 4) FP2 : shareable model of FP1i = FP1g + TP
> >
> > Then:
> >
> > 5) If p is knowable then p is TP in context of FP1g
> > 6) If k1 is a knower then k1 is FP1i in context of FP1g
> > 7) If p is known then p is TP in context of FP1i
> > 8) If k2 is knowable then k2 is FP2 in context of FP1g
> > 9) If k2 is known then k2 is FP2 in context of FP1i
> > 10) If k2 is shared then k2 is FP2 in context of more than one FP1i
> >
> > This further implies that:
> >
> > 11) FP1g is not knowable
> > 12) FP1i is knowable but not shareable
> > 13) FP2 is knowable and shareable
> > 14) FP2 may in fact be known and in fact be shared
> >
> > In consequence of the foregoing, third person discourse relating to
> > 'first person' necessarily takes place in terms of FP2, but in the
> > context of a community of FP1i 'knowers'. The content of FP1i is
> > indescribable but 'shareable' - on the analogy of a shareable
> > distribution - 'downloadable'. As directly uttered or manifested,
> > it's sui generis, not 'like anything'. As FP1i, 'I' can narrate my
> > 'experience' - including my own 'self-reporting' - only in
> > ostensive TP terms that map to the 'shareable distribution'. Hence,
> > for example, 'red' is indicated by 'pointing' to 'that' - both
> > for 'me' and in my report to 'you' via the shareable
> > distribution. In this way we can jointly develop common mappings and
> > organising schemas within 'shared reality'. This symmetry of
> > limitation puts us on an equal footing within a community of shareable
> > discourse.
> >
> > David
> >
> >
> > >
> >

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Received on Sat Aug 05 2006 - 11:05:48 PDT

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