Random thoughts on random topics

La Vieille, Finistère

Imagine this

This is the situation: I observe something happening and I imagine that I tell someone about it, in all details, i.e., including the fact that I imagine that I tell someone about it, in all details, i.e., including the fact that I imagine that I imagine that I tell someone about it, in all details, i.e., …

What does this show? That I can simply create an impossible situation from a contingent one. I observe something happening and I intend to tell someone about it: that is contingent. I also intend to tell someone about this intention: that, too, is contingent. Now I intend to tell everything, i.e., including this intention: that is impossible. To put it differently, the content of my intention (‘And then I will say: I saw something happening …, and then I thought, I should tell someone about it …’) cannot contain the intention itself: if the intention becomes part of the content, it is part of the content of another intention created by that.

The source of the impossibility seems to be self-reflection, in much the same way as self-reference forms the root of the Liar paradox. What can be concluded from this? A parallel that suggests itself is that with regressing awareness. I can be aware of my environment, myself, my actions, my thoughts, … I can also be aware of the fact that I am aware of my environment, myself, … But being aware of everything, including my awareness of that awareness is impossible: content and awareness can never coincide.

Martin Stokhof
from: Aantekeningen/Notes
date: 13/02/1992

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