Romeo and Juliet and QS

From: George Levy <>
Date: Fri, 27 Sep 2002 23:53:10 -0700

Here is a thought experiment illustrating a paradox involving the first
and third person point of views.

Romeo and Juliet, being very unhappy with their families, the Montague
and the Capulet, decide to engage in QS. (By QS, I do not mean Quantum
Sex, even though such an activity has intriguing possibilities indeed.
This topic is beyond the subject addressed here so I will postpone it
for a later posting)

After discussing the idea of QS with their dear friend Mercutio, Romeo
and Juliet decide to go ahead with the project. Mercutio design the
machine and under his instruction, Balthasar, Romeo's loyal servant,
builds a QS contraption capable of operating on two persons
simultaneously. The QS machine is specifically designed not to operate
if the feud between the Montague and Capulet families comes to an end.
Otherwise the machine terminates itself with both persons inside it in a
microsecond. Anyone within a radius of 20 feet of the machine is also
terminated. A few days later, after a series of successful tests
demonstrating the non-operation of the machine, (otherwise the tests
would destroy the machine) the device is ready to operate. Tearfully,
Romeo and Juliet say their goodbyes to their dear friends. They kiss
passionately, and slowly step into the machine. Balthasar moves away in
a hurry afraid for his life. Romeo is sitting in front of the command
panel. One last time, he looks at Juliet who gives him a nod. Romeo
pushes the ignition button....

... and nothing happens, Romeo and Juliet step out of the machine, and
full of joy, run to their families to announce thier engagement and
prepare their wedding...
...and a huge exposion shakes the ground... Balthasar is at a safe
distance and is not hurt. However, Mercutio, who could not bear to lose
his friends, had decided at the last minute to share their fate. He had
moved within one foot of the machine when Romeo hit the iginition switch.

Now here are a few questions involving first and third person points of
views :

Q1. What is the first person point of view of Juliet by Balthasar?
A1. He saw the machine explode. No more Juliet.

Q2. What is the first person point of view of Juliet by Romeo?
A2. He sees his dear Juliet alive and well.

Q3. What is the first person point of view of Juliet by Mercutio?
A3. He sees Juliet alive and well.

Q4. What is the first person experience of Juliet by Juliet?
A4 She is happy to be alive and in love with Romeo.

Now here is the trick question
Q5. What is the third person point of view of Juliet?
A5. Balthasar sees Juliet dead, but both Romeo and Mercutio see her
alive and well.

There lies the paradox.

The question should be rephrased as:
1) What is the third person point of view of Juliet by Romeo,
2) What is the third person point of view of Juliet by Mercutio, and
3)What is the third person point of view of Juliet by Balthasar.

This rephrasing however defeats the whole point of having a "third"
objective person.
There is no such a thing as a third person.
The concept of third person should be rephrased in terms of persons
sharing the same experience because they share the same frame of
reference. In this thought experiment, both Romeo and Mercutio share the
same frame of reference and therefore perceive Juliet in the same way.

Received on Sat Sep 28 2002 - 02:53:55 PDT

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