Re: First Person Frame of Reference

From: George Levy <>
Date: Wed, 09 Jun 2004 11:58:15 -0700

Bruno Marchal wrote:

> At 17:50 05/06/04 -0700, George Levy wrote:
>> Let's me see if I can convince you to bridge the gap and maybe take
>> the relative formulation as a starting point. Like Socrates, let me
>> start with one question. How can you possibly know to begin with this
>> particular assumption:
>> >> I take as objective truth arithmetical truth, and as third person
>> objective communicable truth
>> >> the provable arithmetical propositions like "1+1=2", "Prime(17)",
>> or "the machine number i
>> >> (in some enumeration) does not stop on input number j", this +
>> Church Thesis + the "yes doctor"
>> >> act of faith is what I mean by comp.
> Perhaps we have a problem of vocabulary. I generally put objectivity
> and relativity
> on the same par. The third person view. And I consider subjectivity
> and absoluteness
> on the same par: the first person view.

I don't understand. To give you an objective response you force me to
look up the dictionary:

Objectivity: the ability to express or deal with facts or conditions as
perceived without without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices or
interpretationsthe ability to observe independetly of one's own mental

Subjectivity: [the ability to perceive a reality as] related to or
determined by the mind as the subject of experience; the ability to ...
identify by means of one's perception of one's own states and
processes...rather than as independent of mind.

Relativity: the state of being dependent for existence on or determined
in nature, value, or quality by relation to something else.

Absolut[ism]: [the quality of ] being self sufficient and independent
for external references or relationships

Therefore, subjectivity and objectivity are opposite, relativity and
absolutism are opposite.
A first person perception is a subjective or relative experience.
A third person perception is an objective or absolute experience.

> So, as a scientist (by which I mean "someone willing to be understand
> as such"),
> although I know my initial data are all subjective and
> incorrigible---absolute, I can only
> propose "theories" to my fellows on this planet.

You have moved to a meta level: how do you deal with being a scientist.
The paradox is that your research as a scientists should not be
restricted by your need for communicating with other scientists. It's
like Einstein worrying that his communication of the relativity theory
would be corrupted by his relative motion with other scientists. We can
assume for the time being that our frames of reference are sufficiently
close that we can pretend to talk objectively about the first person or
more precisely, that our relative talk about the first person will not
be corrupted by our slightly different frames of reference.

> Now all theories come from and are ultimately addressed to first person.

> So, when I propose an axiom, like "x + 0 = x", I can only hope it
> makes (absolute) sense.

OK here we may have encountered the vocabulary problem. I would say it
makes relative sense. As a proof, suppose my mental states are such that
I interpret + as x. Then it would make sense to me that x+0 = 0.

> But I can only
> communicate such relative objective statements. This is the price of
> science imo.

> Now, could you reassure me: do you agree with proposition like "x + 0
> = 0", or prime(17)?
> I guess and hope so.

As I said, depending on the states of my mind, I may not agree with this
propostion,. I could interpret "or" as "and", and then the proposition
would be false.

> Obviously the "yes doctor" proposition is more demanding, and that is
> why ultimately I eliminate it methodologically by interviewing a
> sound universal Turing
> machine instead of "grandmother", but such an elimination is only
> "strategical". One of my
> goal is to illustrate that although the first person discourse is
> unscientific,

psychologists would not agree with that

> by its very nature,
> we still can, by giving genuine definitions and hypotheses build a
> pure third person discourse,
> which can be scientific (that is: modest relative and uncertain) *on*
> first person discourses and views.

> Does that make sense?

OK the discourse must be third person, we have no choice, but the
content of the discourse must be first person.

> Ah! About the gray hair problem, I think it is always the same
> problem, some lack
> of knowledge in the field of logic. You are not the only one (in the
> list and elsewhere),
> let us think what to do about that.

hair dye?

George Levy
Received on Wed Jun 09 2004 - 15:06:34 PDT

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