Re: First Person Frame of Reference

From: George Levy <>
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 2004 22:25:18 -0700

Bruno Marchal wrote:

> GL wrote:
>> A first person perception is a subjective or relative experience.
>> A third person perception is an objective or absolute experience.
> Of course I would say
> A first person perception is a subjective experience, and then an
> absolute one (in the sense that it is not relativizable, if you have a
> headache you cannot relativize the feeling itself, although you could
> relativize the importance of it, ...).
> A third person perception is an objective experience, and then a
> relative one (in the sense that you will need to choose either a
> theory or a set of experimental devices, let us say a frame (?),
> without which the proof or the observation are not defined.
> Here I think we agree with the words "first/third person", and
> "subjective/objective", but apparently we are using "absolute" and
> "relative" in the opposite sense.
We agree on most things except on the terms relative and absolute. How
strange that we should disagree precisely on those terms! This is the
proof that the meaning of these terms is relative to our mental states
and that our frame of reference must be different!

OK let's agree at least that our terminology should be consistent with
Einstein's. For example when Einstein says that length is a relative
quantity he means that two observers occupying inertial frames of
reference in motion relative to each other perceive the length of an
object differently. On the other hand, such observers perceive a charge
as an absolute quantity because in spite of their motion, the charge of
an object appears identical to both observers. A third person in yet
another frame of reference would perceive the charge exactly the same
as those first two obsevers. Hence length is relative and dependent on
the observer's frame of reference, and charge is absolute and
independent on the observer's frame of reference. In the context of
relativity, first person = subjective = relative and third person =
objective = absolute.

Now let's move on to a Q-suicide experiment that parallels Einstein's
scenario: two observers occupy different frames of reference because
their continuing existence is differently contingent on a particular
event (such as winning a lottery ticket). They perceive this particular
event differently. As length in Einstein's relativity, this event is
relative to the observers: its value or occurence depends on the
observers' frame of reference. On the other hand, another event such as
the movement of the moon, that has no effect or an equal effect on the
life of these observers, is perceived to be absolute: like charge in
relativity, the value of this event is the same for both observers or
for a hypothetical third person.

> Are you ready for some definition? (We can abandon for a while the
> "absolute"/"relative" opposite view giving that we agree on the 1/3
> distinction and on the subjective/objective opposition, and that's
> what counts in the interview of the Universal Machine (and its
> Godelian "Guardian Angel").

I still wish to resolve our disagreement of the terms relative and
absolute because it may indicates some roadblocks in narrowing the gap.
Remember, you begin with an absolute formulation but end up with a
relative one and I argued that you had no justification for starting
with the third person (absolute?) formulation. My goal was to (help
you?) achieve the ultimate relativization.

However, yes I am ready for some definitions. :-)

Received on Sat Jun 12 2004 - 01:27:40 PDT

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