I noticed recently that Emily Short alias Boegheim has a game running in the comp called “It” and at the same time reviewing other IFComp 2011 games at her blog during the competition. I find that somewhat strange.
Now I may be not familiar with the way things are being handled each year during the competition when you participate as a author, since you know, I never have took part in the IFComp and don’t intend to, because of that “no porn allowed” thing.
And I don’t really want to troll, freak or rant about it or make an issue of it. Whatever. But I just wonder.
So IFComp 2011 authors are allowed to review other IFComp 2011 games during the comp and thus trying to influence their opinions on games to judges?
That’s on a par with the rules, right? Can someone shed light on this?
The statement is based on an assumption that a person may be separated into (at least) two units: One that is easily observed and (the speaker assumes) extrinsic to the person (in this case, Emily Short’s success in the field of putting words together into increasingly complex formations, as well as the legions of fans associated with said success), and one that is hidden, inalienable, the “point of view” that experiences in full detail a given life while insisting on its distinctness from that life.
Emily Boegheim here states a desire that her experiencing “I” be associated, instead of with the experienced “I” she has grown to know all too well over the years, with the experienced “I” that we all know Emily Short is constantly experiencing all the time. This could be accomplished in manners as mundane as your Prince and Pauper setup, or ridiculous as a Freaky Friday scenario, or as disturbing as a Being John Malkovich thing, with a tiny door.
I admit I am putting words in Boegheim’s mouth. It might be that she is already perfectly satisfied with the experienced “I” she’s already got, and just wishes that her last name were Shorter.
But this assumption is, of course, false. No experience is neutral; all experience is shaped by our own history, personality, mood, thoughts, and everything else that constitutes our Self. If I were somehow bodily swapped with Emily, and someone came to me to thank me for writing Alabaster, I certainly would not have the same experience that she would have. (For one thing, I could not possibly be proud of my accomplishment, but would feel acutely ashamed for impersonating someone else.) The Self may (and does) transcend the actual actions and experiences of our life, but it is not independent from them.
Some people would say that there is no parallel universe where Emily Boegheim is Emily Short, because any two things that are identical are necessarily identical, and so any two things that are distinct are necessarily distinct. But even if this is true, it need not make it incoherent to think about what would be the case if Emily Boegheim were Emily Short – we can coherently consider counterfactuals with necessarily false antecedents, such as “If n were the largest prime, one added to the product of all primes less than n would be an even larger prime.” And if we can wonder what would happen if some impossibility were the case, then we can probably wish that it were the case (though I find it hard to imagine wishing that 163 were the largest prime).
But what would it be to wish that one were another person? Well, I suspect that we should think about counterfactuals, not (as almost everyone does) by considering possible worlds in which the antecedent were true, but by drawing inferences about what would happen if it were true, holding relevant parts of the background constant. So when I say (perfectly coherently!), “If I were you, I would not try to lift that,” what I mean might be that, inferring from “I am you” to “I have certain physical characteristics [yours]” and holding constant “I have certain views [the ones I actually hold] about what would happen if someone with such physical characteristics were to try to lift that,” we can draw the conclusion that I would not lift that. So probably what I would mean if I said “I wish I were Emily Short” is that I wish that I had certain of her characteristics – notably having written, through her own efforts, a lot of great IF – but holding constant many of the background characteristics – namely the ones that make me me. Which seems coherent, and not entirely incompatible with self-love, or making jokes at 5 am.
When I saw those first posts, I was trying to think of a Kripke joke, but Kripke just seems so unamusing to me that I failed. (If you can explain to me what the appeal of Kripke is, I would be much obliged. When I read that stuff my mind just goes: “Wait, did you just say ‘essential’? What do you mean, ‘essential’? Wasn’t the whole point of the Scientific Revolution that there are no essences? If not, it certainly is the point of half of the philosophy done in the 20th century.”)
Right, but I would claim that the phrase “If I were you” only has meaning in a context that picks out some relevant properties of me that you are considering yourself to have. So if I ask you for advice about how to deal with a nasty landlord, then your phrase “if I were you” means “if I had such a landlord”. But without context, the phrase seems to indicate not the switching of a few properties, but the switching of identity itself – which is surely incoherent.
Or, to put it another way, identity is, by definition, unique to each individual, which is surely what the Mariner (as that ancient philosopher is known) meant when he proclaimed “I am what I am, and that’s all what I am!”
Isn’t that the appeal? Kripke presents an argument that undermines the assumptions of half the philosophy done in the 20th century, and his arguments are hard to refute. In particular, the arguments against descriptivism seem to me very telling. And isn’t the very short Leibniz’s Law argument for necessity of identity clever? (The arguments about essentiality of origins are much less appealing to me, but I have a colleague who’s really run with them, and I don’t have the greatest counterarguments.)
There’s aaaaaaaalways a context. For instance, in this context it seems clear that Emerald was picking out Emshort’s IF-related properties.
There may always be a context – but that’s at most a necessary truth. And this thread hasn’t really shied even from conterfactuals with necessarily false antecedents.
If I were both Emily Short and Emily Boegheim, I would be able to play my own games without even knowing what would happen in them! (Since, after all, Emily can play Emily’s games whithout knowing that and vice versa.)
One man’s modus ponens is another man’s modus tollens, of course: anything that leads to essentialism is therefore wrong. [emote]:)[/emote] But I’ll review Kripke when I have the time – not having essences is important to me, philosophically speaking.