[extropy-chat] Indexical Uncertainty

Jef Allbright jef at jefallbright.net
Mon Oct 16 15:12:46 UTC 2006

Robin Hanson wrote:

> When I ask "Am I Robin?" the "I" in this sentence cannot be 
> by definition equal to Robin, as then the claim would be true 
> by definition.  If I am able to be uncertain about this, it 
> must be that "I" refers to something other than "Robin,"
> so that it can be only a contingent fact about the world that 
> "I" am "Robin."
> If Lee could also have had a dream that confused him about 
> whether he was Lee or Robin, then when he asks "Am I Robin?" 
> the "I" in his question must refer to something different 
> than the "I" when I ask the 
> question.   So if we are
> to be able to represent the uncertainty in both of these 
> questions, I can't see how to escape having things like "Soul 
> #29230041608" in our language.

For these same reasons, I say that the Self is an illusion, albeit a
necessary one for any agent.  So I agree that we must assign such
labels, but I hope that we can also become clearly aware that as with
all labels, even those which refer to our "own self", the map is not the

When more of society has arrived at this higher-level, pragmatic
understanding of self as the referent of agency, then it will become
obvious that the same rules apply to collective agencies as to
individuals, and problems such as Tragedy of the Commons will no longer
appear paradoxical.

- Jef 

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