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1995 Tutorial

© 1997 Henry A. Flynt, Jr.


Part I. The totality as "individual experience" integrated around personal identity and purpose



I. Motivations

II. Person-world analysis as "journalism"

III. Episodes which foreground personalistic subjectivity

IV. From journalistic delineation to perspective-of-totality

V. Roles for, and difficulties of, the premise

VI. Toward a rigorous conception



I developed the material to follow in a tutorial situation in the spring of 1995. (I extracted "Personhood Theory: A Sketch" from it, originally at the beginning of 1996.) So the material is conversational. One of the features of discourse is that only so many disclaimers and qualifications can be packed into each sentence. I am forced to borrow words and change their meanings, to improvise a terminology—and the addressee has to glean the meanings by osmosis, or by referring them directly to personal precedent.

The student(s) were argumentative, and I noted down our exchanges. I am still in transition as to whether I want to retain these disputes. They slow the exposition. At the same time, they furnish object-lessons which are very much of the content and purpose of personhood theory. This material makes its first appearance in (I.iv). After that, capital letters in the text indicate where the material cropped up; the passages are collected as Appendix 1.

When I suppose that the student’s mind-set would generalize to many educated laypeople, I attribute it to EL. When the resistance is specific to these conversations and the student’s biography, I attribute it to S. Because English doesn’t have a legitimate generic pronoun, I am forced to use the plural for the generic.

I have manuscripts on other facets of personhood theory, and bodies of research along complementary lines. There is meta-technology and there is my book-manuscript on psychology. I list these manuscripts as "References," Appendix 2.



I. Motivations

The person-world premise originally arose in discussions held in 1980. The participants were motivated by a sense of crisis in three respects.

i) The priestly custodians of reality—the pure scientists—were telling us in the back room that they know their knowledge is false and they don’t care. What is more, they were denying psychological evidence (illusions, dreaming) which psychology says are concomitants of a healthy nervous system. What is more, they were displaying blind hostility to investigations which legitimately crossed academic boundaries.

They had willfully stunted their faculties.

None of the legitimate sciences can address the "ethics of inquiry and judgment" (to mention the facet of inspiritedness directly involved in intellectual exploration). If we want to talk about inquiry and judgment, we have to begin in unspecialized discourse, natural language and common-sense phenomena.

ii) The intellectual foundations of the civilization were driving inexorably to mechanization, to an assault which treated "humanness" as a despised illusion. What I have called phobia of the psyche is found in every pretentiously rational author—Brouwer, Wittgenstein, Watson, Skinner, Levi-Strauss, Minsky—and in pretentiously modern authors such as Foucault. Most schools of modern philosophy and science are effectively behavioristic. (Whether they readily announce it doesn’t matter.)

It is important to realize that citing the modern authors in an atmosphere of disapproval—as I just have—does not rebut them. If the authors are attacking specific "psychologisms," to quote them with disapproval does not make those psychologisms true.

If there is a manifest case against psychephobia, it is this. Humans have concocted an intellectual foundation which progressively moves toward radical denial of "the human" (including the human process of concocting ideology). As we march out of the swamp of superstition, we learn that the superstition from which we have to be torn is we ourselves. The enemy which has to be eradicated is ourselves.

iii) There was no compelling frame of reference in which to explore e.g. personalistic subjectivity, or private experience, empathetically, for its "phenomenology." The role of alternatives to mechanistic psychology was taken by cult-like doctrines, synthetic religions, with no constraints on ontology or credulity. As for the "ethics of inquiry and judgment" (again), none of the legitimate sciences can address the topic. We have to begin in unspecialized discourse, natural language and common-sense phenomena, if we want to talk about inquiry and judgment.

Additionally, there was no compelling frame of reference which accepted ecstatic states—elevated or preferred states. It’s not just that the reduction of the psychedelic state to Tibetan mythology was hokey, for example. It was that our 1980 group knew preferred states which the cult gurus wouldn’t have cared about because they weren’t scams.

Manifestly, how could the intellectual evolution mentioned in (ii) arrive at empathetic attention to private experience or personalistic subjectivity? How could it acknowledge the ethics of inquiry and judgment presupposed by science?

Another way of summarizing the situation. The prevailing culture establishes drastic disunifications of human life.

On one side, the conceptual medium of ordinary apprehension of the world and ordinary social interaction (common sense); on the other side, science, which builds on common sense but also despises it.

On one side, science which is inhuman; on the other side, "humanities" which are whimsical and frivolous (not to say nefarious, when we are talking about the cults).

One is supposed to be a complete person by bouncing around these four corners like a Ping-pong ball.

iv) Even though we obtained nominal agreement from some educated laypersons (EL) on (i)-(iii), when it became clear that we wanted to spotlight the fault-lines in factual reality—in preparation for drastically reconstituting the world-picture, if you will—the EL told us that we weren’t entitled to do that. We weren’t entitled to take responsibility for our inculcated competences. High above us were the "angels," the Nobel-Prize winners, so high that they couldn’t be seen for the clouds. They had already given all the answers to all the questions, even though the EL didn’t know what those answers were. (But what happened to the circumstance that we were being told in the back room that the scientists knew their knowledge was false and didn’t care? The EL’s assent to our statement of motivation vanished at the slightest test.)

We were not entitled to rush in where the angels feared to tread. We were not entitled to become self-conscious about the consensus assembly of factual reality. "You have no right; you aren’t entitled; the angels have answered every question; you should not want self-consciousness; you should not design and realize perceptual illusions which expose the artificiality of the object-gestalt."

While they agreed nominally that the prevailing account of reality was unlivable, they turned into policemen for the status quo when they saw that we meant to do something about it. What they expected us to do, evidently, was to retrieve some inoperative myth and spread it over orthodoxy like a mousse. They were not prepared for our incisions in the prevailing account.

But it was even worse than that. The EL believed in "the angels," but knew nothing about what they said or did. The EL did not know that science makes its own radical critique of common sense—a critique whose particulars I can at times endorse, whose particulars can take us a considerable way in our inquiry. The EL did not understand that science views the common-sense notion of consciousness (not to mention the plurality of minds) with contempt—even though that was one of the motivations for personhood theory which the EL presumably accepted.

But it was even worse than that. Even though the EL worshipped the scientists as angels, and accepted that their theories were incomprehensibly abstruse, the EL assumed, all the same, that those theories substantiated the EL’s casual notions about reality. The EL, who had told us that we had no right to rush in where angels fear to tread, ultimately assumed that the angels simply echoed what the EL wanted to believe. It was the EL who proved to be monumentally arrogant.

They knew that the orthodox answers are less and less satisfactory, but they were so terrified at the prospect of departing from these answers that they demanded that they be affirmed before any inquiry could begin. It is a terribly conflicted impasse. But just to recognize that is the point of personhood theory. We needed a non-intellectual epistemology—an epistemology in which the destination is not separated from permission for the journey, from the subject’s esteem and morale.

• • •

II. Person-world analysis as "journalism"

Person-world theory develops a journalism of the personally relative totality, the personal microcosm. It employs vernacular language to delineate "the self’s cognitive process in acting," in a way which acknowledges the mental (or "psychic") aspects.

The EL tends to demand that the questions of what made the world and what the world is made of be answered "liturgically" before any fundamental inquiry can begin. That brings us to the most difficult feature of the inquiry for the EL. The pat theses about the substance of which phenomena or entities are constituted are going to be suspended. Also, the pat theses about the causes or source of the world are going to be suspended. No cause of the world is identified. While issues of causality will come to the fore later, I cannot treat them before we have conceived the arena in which they are posed. (Our answer, "scrambled causation," is going to be incomparable to the metaphysical dogmas.)

We may start by narrowing the frame to the individual, in the world that he or she knows.

Phenomenologically, I use the words ‘mind’ and ‘mental’ to discriminate a fragment of the totality such as my visualization of a cup with my eyes shut. Such a visualization could be said to be "a piece of my mind." A cup is not mental; and would not be a "piece of my mind" (in the sense in question). Neither would my body (e.g. a limb) be a piece of my mind. Phenomenologically, to say that an object, such as a cup, is "a piece of my mind" would just be false.

Continuing, there are phases of lived experience which are complete "worlds" in a phenomenological sense—such as dreamed episodes. Common-sense judges the latter to be mirages. All the same, the phenomenological distinction between my mentation and "external objects" (and my body) is as pronounced in a dream as in a waking episode. Thus, phenomenologically, a cup in my dream is not "a piece of mentation." (Irrespective of waking common-sense’s retrospective verdict that the whole episode is a mirage. The verdict that one’s mind has manufactured the dream-world.) To insist on suspending the pre-emptive reality-judgments of common sense as we do here is highly non-trivial, of course.

It is palpably false that there is no phenomenological distinction, no qualitative distinction, between mentation (e.g. a visualization) and "external objects."

The common-sense judgment that an entire dream has a different reality-status from an entire waking episode is another matter. Person-world analysis does not divest you of the judgment that a waking episode is more real than a dreamed episode. But it demands that you acknowledge your proximate authorship of this (culturally correlated) judgment. Person-world analysis carefully delineates the role of these judgments of realism—without subscribing to them and pre-empting the inquiry.

What is one’s "cognitive process in acting" when one casually reaches for a cup of coffee? You recognize (!) the cup, reach for it, and expect your fingers to touch something that feels like a cup where you see a cup. In so doing, you sequentially slot your perceptions/expectations/actions into a pre-established theory. (One name for this theory is common sense.) As psychology has long said, the palpable cup is an object-gestalt which is intersensorily correlated.

As will be evident again and again, the individual continually integrates a longitudinal self and a "world" in a habitual and culturally correlated way. The individual engages, in that sense, in a continual "gymnastics." The observation is far from trivial. High-quality illusions have been designed and realized which force you to acknowledge that you apprehend object-gestalts by feeding cues into a pre-existing theory.

To observe that common sense is not pat—that we actively wield a culturally correlated theory just to find a solid world (or whatever term you prefer)—is profound. Beyond that, the common-sense world-model can be shown to be saturated with logical faults. On this basis, personhood theory refrains from pre-empting the inquiry by invoking an external factual world which the present culture is supposed to know with unique assurance. The "factual" world is culturally mutable. Personhood theory’s mission is to get underneath the variability.

Elaborating, the theory rejects the use of objective foundations posited by science as building blocks. The theory proceeds entirely by unravelling "the obvious" (presumptive cultural competence).

Continuing to explain person-world analysis as a sort of journalism, the subject-matter is required to include personalistic subjectivities. Indeed,

i. centered presence and activation, also called alertness and force of will

ii. control of your fantasies (assuring that they don’t move into the environs and become part of the environs)

iii. "uncertainty": your acts incur consequences but you don’t know what they will be

iv. choice-making at the level which is called "responsibility"

v. vacillation about what you wish or want

vi. preoccupation with your emotional dependence on other people

vii. sense of individual worth

viii. a sequence of moods which affords a revelation about your attitude

These are not segmented abstractions (hope, regret, desire); they are personalistic subjectivities in their "concrete fluidity," and "at high integration or interpretation."

The totality here is self contending with "objectivities." I say that the totality is dimensioned. All the same, dreams are just as dimensioned as waking episodes of consciousness.

I dismiss psychologies which would call the moments or junctures (i)-(viii) "the subjective illusions of an individual located in a material universe outside of psychology." Roughly, I insist on addressing "the individual, in the world that the individual knows" in an epistemological perspective. The inquiry does not subordinate itself to a conjectural objective foundation such as neuroscience.

Moreover, the inquiry’s depictions are introspective, and invite introspective confirmation. (This feature is central and I will return to it.)

Person-world analysis attends to the manifest "transactional" detail of the personal microcosm, integrated as self, in environs.—Without a pre-judgment as to what source manufactures the world. The subject-matter is the self’s ongoing integrations of recognition and action, which invoke or deploy pre-existing theories. Person-world analysis compiles delineations which do not defer to reality-dogmas, whether they come from classic metaphysics or from biochemical science.

An unworthy objection has been made several times to personhood theory. It would devalue the exposition to devote it to reacting to this objection, precisely because it is unworthy. I have moved the balance of my replies to it to Appendix 1.

The objection says first that personhood theory puts it all in your head, has your mind conjuring up the world. (Metaphysical idealism.) And secondly, that personhood theory is merely psychology. The objection is already incoherent, because the two accusations are incompatible. Let me deal with the second accusation first. Nothing which is legitimately called psychology purports to be an account of "the universe," the totality—purports to get underneath astrophysics, for example. But the aim of personhood theory is to envision the totality.

Next, person-world analysis is incomparable to a primitive dogmatism or administrative pronouncement like "it’s all in your head." That should have been clear from distinctions made at the beginning of this section. Moreover, as I mentioned in the Forward, I pursue research along other lines. I have a campaign to break the framework of objectivity with intellectual considerations, without making an issue of the knower’s interests. In Stockholm in 1979 I named this campaign meta-technology. Personhood theory dovetails with meta-technology. A cardinal example is "Superseding Scientific Apprehension of the Inanimate World" (1990), a study of the quantification of nature which began as §E of the 1985 "Studies in the Person-World." Another example was my December 20, 1987 physics lecture. Meta-technology supports the present argument when it locates particular cases of the mutability of facts of observation (culturally correlated perceptual judgment).

No metaphysical benediction has ever marshalled palpable evidence, and sought to reconstitute "the sciences," in this way.


There is an entire aspect of the method which was not an explicit topic in the early years of personhood theory. Journalism? Reportage? Then codes of veracity must be involved. Actually, our code of veracity has several phases. There is testimonial veracity; one who keeps a dream journal must not not fabricate dreams, for example. Then, when I ask whether you recognize yourself in this generic depiction, that is a phase of veracity which will replace the notion of personhood theory as reportage. Then, the distinctions on which the analysis rests need to be upheld reliably; the cup I hold in my hand is not "a piece of my mind."

As for warranting this code of veracity, I need to unfold the person-world premise at considerable length—to find where it goes—before deciding how to locate it in some more ruthless vision.


III. Episodes which foreground personalistic subjectivity

Personhood theory proceeds to [report or] delineate the "transactions detail" of aspects of "your" conscious life.

"Your" — personhood theory is a text which you judge by whether you can recognize yourself in it—as I will expand on below.

a) Individual conscious life is a sequence of remembered, and present, conscious episodes, separated by unconsciousness. You count your past waking episodes, but not your dreams or episodes of psychedelic intoxication, in your thematic identity, your career identity. (Making distinctions of realism between one and another past conscious episode in your life.)

b) There is a cognitive process in doing, in which you sequentially slot your perceptions/expectations/actions into a pre-established theory. It can be noted in simply picking up a cup of coffee, or in any conative moment.

c) If it is asked whether 1988, say, was a leap year, you cannot answer by feeling whether it was a day longer than the other years. You have to look it up in an Almanac or otherwise rely on a precept which is linguistic and arithmetical. (A leap year is a fact of experience which is preserved only through intellectualization.)



Roughly, awareness is always glued to "objectivities" (or environs). Awareness is bonded to objectivities. Awareness not only attends to and addresses, but copes with objectivities. (Acknowledgement of "resistances.")

Physical science—all natural science—typically posits a universe without palpable individuated consciousness. Here that is designated as an incoherent fiction.



Let me leave off the conversation and become more formal for a bit.

The person-world premise conceives thematic identity relative to personal action, self and objectivities, morale, esteem, and "sanity" as a unified subject-matter. The individuated, continual, motivated, thematic, imaginative integration of a regular self/objectivities configuration. (A process which is introspectively palpable.) This topic strongly requires a reality-hierarchy; but the required reality-hierarchy is incomparably different from those accredited by contemporary rationalism (e.g. the "common objective world"). It takes personalistic subjectivities not only as palpable but as central.

My self counts when it is the longitudinal, thematic unity of my waking episodes. My self is my self. But I comport to "my" objects (this drinking glass in my microcosm) as everyone's objects. I comport to speaking and attending to speech as everyone's language.

Once the analysis of the person-world has begun, I may try to make the person-world serve as a picture of the whole which is ontologically self-contained. If I pursue this approach, then the circumstance that the person-world is a personal microcosm becomes the most unreasonable or refractory feature of the proposal.

After the first round of analysis, one indulges a higher level of credulity, and uses personhood theory's undermining analysis of an "illusory" structure to modulate the common notion of the structure. The goal of the theory cannot be coherence; it is to achieve a more authentically descriptive incoherence.

In lived experience, there is a self-supervision of fleeting sensations and imagery and impulses or tendencies. On awaking from a dream, there is a moment when one grades the memory as a dream. Such examples evince a self-supervision of experience which yields personal identity, etc. This organization is, roughly, hierarchical. Personal identity is "higher" in the scale of self-supervision than sensation, imagery, spasmic movement or action (a sneeze). Pain, thirst, phobic fear are not high-level affections.

Personal identity involves your longitudinal judgment of some of your personas as impostures that don’t pan out. It involves distinctions of your degree of honesty with yourself. It involves subtle evaluations about behaviors which are disapproved by others and behaviors of which your are ashamed. When the self-supervision goes awry, we say that a person is helpless, legally incompetent, out of control, insane.

Affections which presuppose the subject’s hierarchical self-organization are high-level affections. Morale, despair, romantic infuatuation, for example. They will be the topic of Part II.

I have indicated the compass of the person-world for my listeners by invoking their episodes of intoxication. I speak of the importance of letting the trip be itself, "listening" to it. That is because I expect a trip to foreground or amplify the person-world’s features.

The bearing of the psychedelic state on personalistic subjectivity etc. A psychedelic experience comprises, in the first instance, "nongrounded" perceptions (color streaks and twinkling in the air, etc.). Beyond that, temporarily losing the centered activation which defines self (like a fever without the debilitation). Beyond that, hallucinations of people on whom one is emotionally dependent. Beyond that, experiencing a course of moods which comprises a revelation of attitude. The most important thing about psychedelics is not the weird perceptions, but the way in which sense of self, and mood, are amplified or foregrounded. At the same time, the psychedelic experience attenuates the instrumental intention. It steers you to receptivity or self-expression. It makes instrumental cognition seem comical.

What becomes of apperceptive cogency in the psychedelic state?

—Do your fantasies move into the environs and become part of the environs?

—Can you discern the "governor of yourself" from the welter of sensations? (Nobody is in charge, you are a throbbing nerve ending.)

S proposed: In the psychedelic state, you feel in control of the environs but not of yourself.

Unfortunately for this tutorial, S’s experience with psychedelics did not take a favorable course. In 1969, he had a few trips which he considered mild; he saw patterns. Then he took acid contaminated with toxins at Woodstock, and had a waking nightmare in which he was also somatically ill from the toxins. He saw the visions non-stop, whether he had his eyes open or closed. He couldn’t close his eyes; and he feared that he would never come down. That permanently fixed the meaning of psychedelic experience for him as " hell." Thus, to S, "listening to the drug" means being imprisoned in a nightmare.

The usual distinctions between "mental" and "non-mental" and "bodily," in lived experience, were not available for S in "psychedelic hell," or were blurred. All the more motivation for striving to expand our literal vocabulary for perceptions, to report perceptions literally—instead of lapsing into hyperbole. And all the more motivation for personhood theory’s respect for the experience. S had complained that personhood thery did not honor the categorical dichotomy of internal and external. Then he recounted an experience in which no such distinction was available to him.

• • •

IV. From journalistic delineation to perspective-of-totality

The person-world premise initially gets spelled out like journalism—appealing to and refining vernacular discourse. That’s not a mistake; because person-world analysis intends to address "human" issues for which common sense and the vernacular are the only received ontology and vocabulary. The content of the person-world is the ostensible realm consisting of: self ("as psyche") addressing environs and objects, mediated by the body (wishes realized via the body). Co-constitutivity: It’s the "dimensionality" of self bonded to objectivities, coping with objectivities.

Other people are in the environs—are "beings" in the/my person-world. They have a different "ontological status" or "epistemology" from me, because I am required to ascribe thoughts and wishes to them, but I cannot experience or have their minds.

(My) self is a component in a situation with many non-psychic constituents.

It’s the configuration of a longitudinal thematic self bonded to objectivities, in environs, "suffering" the body and realizing urges via the body; etc. etc. It’s the configuration, the dimensionality of this "totality."

It would be odd if one could not understand the realm called the person-world, because who can leave the person-world? Journalistically, it ought to be urgently familiar. What makes it difficult is confusion over how to align it with one’s learned reality-dogmas.

Person-world theory’s answer to contemporary neuroscience is as follows. We don’t have to arrive at mind as the most remote and obscure epiphenomenon. We never left it. How could somebody find it skull-cracking to entertain the notion of consciousness as co-constitutive of "the totality"? Presumably consciousness is always a palpable constituent of the palpable totality. (Never do you apprehend without "apprehending consciousness"—setting aside the conjecture of unconscious perception.)

If I "mindlessly" pour myself a glass of water, my experience of self is of a self in the moment: my (career) thematic identity is way in the "background." Personal episodic memory is in the background.

In contrast, if my life is put on the spot by a crisis, my (career) thematic identity comes to the foreground. ("Persona") I apprehend this identity, "my persona," as memories, for example. (Longitudinal thematic identity is "career" thematic identity.)

Personhood theory acknowledges resistances, and insists on them (as was said earlier). When you are assaulted from the environment, your longitudinal thematic identity is challenged, and you are challenged to cope—highlighting the dimensionality. It’s the ostensible-to-you environs which delivers this assault. The person-world premise is meant to address the common hostility of one’s "surroundings" (if I find myself in a war zone, for example)—and even more, the contraction of one’s faculties of thought attendant on being under assault. So "resistances" are a motivation for the person-world premise.

All the same, the environments of dreams can be as fraught as those of waking episodes.

None of this pertains to the question of what makes the totality or what the totality is made of; that question is held in abeyance.

"Self" can be given numerous vernacular meanings. Mentation and feeling versus my body. Self-at-the-moment versus longitudinal thematic self.

Body. Well-known belief-systems make the self an autonomous psychic substance which owns the lump of lard called the body.


"One’s microcosm" is each person, and is "the whole of reality." A "solipsism" which is generic. The person-world orientation has to untangle what, taken uniformly, would be an absurdity—via a lot of epistemological gear-shifting.


It is time to address the disarray of the prevailing culture’s conception of other minds. Let us settle the most important point first. The EL’s picture of other minds comes from common sense. But science and "scientific philosophy" have no place whatever for the common-sense picture of mind. Didn’t I say that in (I)? The EL is likely not to know that science has its own radical critique of common sense, that it is radically counter-intuitive. I showed S some scientific accounts of consciousness, to point out how pathetic they are, and he said, "Oh, I’m sure they have better answers than that now." But the answers I was showing him were recent ones. S is prepared to give the scientists credit for answering all the questions, even though he doesn’t know what their answers are. What happened to our agreement on the motivations of (I)?

I refuse to let the common-sense picture of persons as minds-in-bodies on a physical earth enjoy the reputation of being reasonable. The common-sense picture has us as lumps of lard walking around on a physical earth, each with a psychic self in his or her head, the psychic self not existing anywhere that is physical, and observable only to itself. All of these non-physical vertices of awareness—which are observable only by themselves. No matter how much this picture is belabored, it never becomes any more sensible.

We have the personal pronoun "I," which can mean "my psyche." "I think, I feel." What is your common-sense explanation of the role of the word ‘I’? Each person successively claims ‘I’ as the name of his or her inaccessible-to-others mind. I name my mind "I" and you name your mind with the same word. You do that all the time; why don’t you find it skull-cracking?

Let us bring in professional philosophy. The minds of other people become, in the common-sense view, transcendentales. Another person’s mind is a reality in my environment which the other person knows intimately but which I absolutely cannot know. The transcendentale is the most important epistemological mode in common sense, but it is impossible to make it reasonable. If the reality is an absolute other which it is impossible for me to know, why isn’t it an empty box?

Common sense cannot defend its notion of the psyche as an nonphysical substance connected to the head by an unclassifiable bond.


Common sense posits that I exist in the midst of other minds which I cannot observe—other minds which are attached to bodies in a manner I cannot explain or even define. Meanwhile, most schools of modern philosophy and science are effectively behaviorist. (Didn’t I already say that?) Modern science gives no recognition to counterpart sentiences and no recognition to my sentience. Modern philosophy and science do not give romantic affection anywhere to live, for example. (Didn’t I already say that?)

One may insist, from life-experience, not only that there are other minds, but that some of the other minds have the advantage of me. Personhood theory doesn’t avoid that consideration; it returns to it again and again—especially in connection with romantic affection, wherein the other arrives like a miracle. But person-world theory has to approach the question about the other who has the advantage of me in its own way. A subtle, circuitous methodology will take shape.

If the case of "the other" who has the advantage of me is cited to prove the truth of conformism, we haven’t even been told which conformism is being proved true. How many times do I have to say that science, so far from endorsing common sense, despises it?

Personhood theory is mindful not only of my interactions with other people, but of my encounters of other people as antagonists. And another "disparity" between people has to be acknowledged. Some people are mentally retarded (or whatever the latest euphemism is). Personhood theory has to decide where to put that disparity. (The common-sense appraisal of the existence of the retarded gets treated as a hypothesis tacked onto the basic incoherence of the tenet of other minds.)


We begin to sort out "generic solipsism" and "counterpart sentiences." The explanation will not be complete until (VI).

(°1) Person-world theory is like an anonymous book in the library which each person individually checks out.

What you "check out of the library" is not you, or your world, but a text (a paradigm), person-world theory, which presumably will earn your respect by providing generic delineations which you can interpret into yourself—by delineating dimensionalities or configurations which you can interpret into yourself.

Anybody checks the same book out: in no way is this a tenet that "everybody is one in substance." To repeat, we don’t deal in pat theses about substance.


It is as with the word ‘I’. Each of us is allowed to claim the first-person pronoun; that is not a tenet that everybody is one in substance. Nor is everyone claimed to have the same autobiographical particulars or temperament. Rather, there can be a generic characterization which each person can interpret into him or herself.

So there is a text or paradigm which each person individually interprets into him or herself. The text is generic, as I already said—and offers itself to you to recognize yourself in it.

Person-world theory proposes to "everybody"—better, to you the reader—the configuration or dimensionality which I began to sketch above.

The individual’s changing moods are a motivation for personhood theory, because personhood theory wants to talk explicitly about the heterogeneity of the longitudinal self. The dramatic case is the case of having a different persona altogether in a dream. But commonly, changing moods means: the disjunction of moods or personas in my longitudinally integrated waking self.

The normative demand is for your successive waking episodes be united as a reality, overriding your dreams, "psychedelic hallucinations," etc. That is a hegemonic construct. The common-sense norm of reality is punitive toward palpable evidence; it eradicates palpable evidence.

I call our subject-matter "configurations of an ostensible realm." If you want common sense to be the real reality, then you have to treat many of the personas in the career of your person-world as illusions needing to be expunged. Person-world theory insists that your longitudinal self is heterogeneous.

Person-world analysis is an anonymous text which "you the reader" are to interpret into yourself. If you cannot recognize yourself in the theory’s generic delineation of the configuration, then the text is a failure. (That’s no more weird than the role of the pronoun ‘I’.)

Again, I call our subject-matter "configurations of an ostensible realm." I am not making a of the dimensionality, or of the usual configuration, which gets called "personhood." On the contrary: eventually I will expose ordinary personhood as "attachment." Ultimately the analysis will open a route to personhood’s self-cancellation.

But at first, our task is to outline what is usual.

• • •

V. Roles for, and difficulties of, the premise

Personhood theory wants to take on the following roles, or to supply the following solutions: concurrently—or from the same core.

(1) a perspective-of-totality

(2) a human self-image

(3) a non-intellectual epistemology

Given one’s personal adaptation relative to the doctrinal precepts or content one defends — known as occupation or vocation — what sort of realm do we have to recognize to allow such a personal adaptation to exist?

Cultural linkage of matters of fact and rationality to morale and esteem.

(4) the totality is "generic solipsism"

A generic solipsism of thematic self bonded to its environs is extracted from the portrayal of the personal microcosm.

But I don’t deny that generic solipsism is an oxymoron. The conversations showed that this oxymoron is liable to misunderstandings.

(5) a longitudinally thematic self bonded to environs

Bonded to "the exterior."



As was said, the person-world is an ostensible totality. Admittedly: the longitudinal thematic self is ostensible, because an individual’s self shifts discontinuously in dream/waking junctures. At an "integrated level" of the experience-world there is a single, waking integration of the individual that discounts heterogeneous dream-personas.

My radical-empiricist essays noted that the prolonged thematic self can be a mirage of the moment. Asking whether the prolonged thematic self is real is like asking whether the environs are real.


Where does the person-world premise line up relative to the "empiricist" stances I have propounded: radical empiricism; the experience-world? The matter needs a full examination, here I only note it for the record.

Radical empiricism would acknowledge the affections of the self, such as anxiety. But not the longitudinal thematic integration and not the thematic centered presence. Radical empiricism balks at the thesis that "my personal history is real." The person-world premise harbors myth in these respects.

Husserl’s phenomenology is a dogma that "experience" is irrevocably split and directed as an arrow from self to object. Absolute dualism in experience; absolute directedness.

One can hold a dowel vertically in the near center of one’s visual field. Then, depending on one’s focus, one sees one dowel or two identical ones. I took this case as an opportunity to ponder Husserl’s claims. Again, one can achieve two ranges of visual focus—and one can effect the change of focus. Husserl would invoke these phenomena to prove the reality of the arrow of intentionality and of the self-object duality. He finds this rigid duality in the personal microcosm. The phenomena are said to prove the arrow of intentionality from self to object, the absolute directed dualism in "experience."

I don’t endorse the absoluteness or metaphysical conclusiveness of this proof. As to the person-world, the dimensionality which characterizes it, whether or not it is analogous to Husserl’s intentionality, is not propounded as an absolute.

All that is a single philosophical remark. Beyond that, to be brief, Husserl purported to erect a proof of conformist reality on intentionality. Husserl was in a culture of metaphysics (there is no other word for it) which makes him irrelevant here. I don’t want to have to deal with the transcendental ego, Husserl’s use of Erfahrung, etc.


A screaming objection to the person-world premise. It elevates my own ignorance as the norm, the criterion, of the universe. I hear people talking in Chinese and the person-world orientation does not allow me to conclude that I am hearing a language of which I am simply ignorant. "Chinese is not a language because I don’t understand it." This can be accused of infantile egoism.

But to argue the external reality of the Chinese language, as common sense would, makes the existence of Chinese into a transcendental postulate in Schelling’s sense. "I know the reality of a world which, at present, is rigorously inaccessible to me." Common sense is committed to transcendental postulates about: objectivities surrounding me which are knowable hypothetically but of which I am individually ignorant.


Hennix contributed a point to be taken into consideration. Ecstasy—one cannot reach this by intellectual analysis in the banal state of consciousness.

Referring to the aforementioned meta-technology, how do person-world theory and meta-technological creativity react on each other? Person-world theory can seek to discern the self in meta-technological creativity. What it finds: highly intentional, and elevated, centered activation.

Meta-technological discourse cannot itself say that: because as originally conceived it does not see the self with its environs as an integrated phenomenon or totality. So meta-technology has a personal precondition which it cannot understand.

We learn that the acknowledgement of elevated or preferred states is another motivation for personhood theory.


Let me expand a little on the non-intellectual epistemology.

We wish to conceive a realm which allows one’s personal adaptation relative to one’s asserted doctrinal precepts or content to subsist.

We are interested, philosophically, if you will, in where the determination of reality comes from. The official line is that the Pythagoreans came to the incommensurability of 1 and [square root]2 because it is simply true. That Einstein came to Relativity Theory simply by transcribing reality. The cases under scrutiny are officially pictured as cases in which the great minds simply detect, or report, reality aright.

But what of all the times they told us that they know their knowledge is false and they don’t care? We find a systematic meretriciousness in scientific cognizing: which instills standard "delusions," and truncates personal affections, including perception, in standard ways.

This exercise is meant to show where what the EL venerates as reality comes from. Devotion to reason, transcription of reality, is not how mathematicians obtain the tenet that 1 and [square root]2 are incommensurable.

The non-intellectual epistemology has a subsidiary investigation which analyzes the state of morale of the nondescript person, the person who is not an intellectual or philosophical leader.

• • •

VI. Toward a rigorous conception

a. Formal person-world methodology

"The person-world is obviously not an obvious and unarguable immediate."

The person-world orientation is a paradoxical and undermining dynamic. It does not have to yield a creed to serve its purpose. If the pursuit of the analysis has the effect of unraveling conventional reality, that is an acceptable outcome.

Person-world analysis is addressed to "you the reader." The analysis begins in the culture to which the reader claims to belong already. It invokes the circumstance that "you the reader" ostensibly know a language. In this discourse, the word "I" is interconvertible with you the reader and is to be claimed conjecturally by the reader.

The person-world exposition is a text whose source is in principle unimportant. The text invokes the presumed shared culture in which you are competent. The analysis appeals to "world"-conceptions which must be ordinarily familiar to a reader in this culture with conventional competences: the ordinary way in which I conceive myself as I cope. The analysis stipulatively selects a subject-matter from familiar conceptions: the individuated "conscious world" as it is integrated in action (or passivity or submission as the case may be).

The text addresses "you the reader" and engages you: so that you "encounter meaning in it."

But this portion of familiar conceptions is highly indeterminate and inconsistent. The analysis immediately selects certain tenets in the familiar conception to be taken literally and rigorously, to the extent of causing other tenets to be downgraded or suspended. In other words, certain tenets are posited literally and rigorously (and thus as rationally prior or elementary). The familiar conception is then scrutinized from this standpoint.

(°2) Person-world theory proposes that when the totality is conceived as disjoined from, and excluding, individuated palpable consciousness [my awareness], the conception-of-totality amounts to incoherent self-estrangement. It is an incoherent reductionist fiction.

Since my environs and my body, along with my awareness, are constituents of the person-world, whatever claims the theory makes are made for the personal microcosm—not for "my mind."

To repeat, the totality is taken as palpably conscious. In line with the above, every proposition of the analysis has to have some confirmation from introspection. Validation of the analysis always involves a component of introspection.

The result is to utilize the chimerical commonality to unravel itself. Person-world analysis has a devolutional posture toward the purported shared culture.

So there is attained an analysis of "my microcosm" or "my encounter of my world." One of the shared notions is that of other people as counterpart sentiences. (Symmetry of people’s claims to the pronoun "I.") The person-world exposition, in the course of analyzing "you the reader" as a personally relative totality, exposes your mental model of counterpart sentiences as being incoherent.

After acquiring the analysis, you may step to a higher level of credulity and inject the person-world portrayal into the common notion of counterpart sentiences. (That is, take person-world analysis as a portrayal of other people’s person-worlds.)

Again: At a higher level of credulity, this analysis can be bent to explain other people’s mentalities. In other words, it can be bent to become one of the hypotheses in the imaginative synthesis through which I respond to the world. At the same time, the incoherence of addressing other people’s mentalities has been spelled out and remains explicit. It never stops being incoherent.

b. Difficulties of the person-word premise

1.i. The very form of language presupposes that many people can claim the personal pronoun; and that "my world" is not a totality, but is counterposed to something else. Indeed, for common sense it is obvious that I am only a "particle," surrounded by nature, other people, manufactured environments, etc. It is obvious that I did not originate my own cultural medium, the native language, routine skills, my garments and the "choice" to wear clothes; etc. It is obvious that I am only a particle in, and did not originate, that juncture of nature, people, and culture called "the economy."

1.ii. To posit the individuated ostensible totality as an Absolute would be liable to objections even more formidable than the common-sense objection (1.a).

2.i. When I close my eyes, "my world" undergoes a drastic qualitative alteration. Would this be claimed to be a real alteration (in an external world)? (An ancillary thought. The person-world has "furniture," objects—tables, chairs, etc. Yet the usual apprehension of this furniture as objectivities cannot be justified from within the person-world. When we narrow the frame, the result is a configuration without a justification.)

2.ii. The person-world framework cannot treat other people symmetrically with myself. There is no place in my "self-world relationship" to put another person’s "self-world relationship." Yet our personal pronouns presuppose symmetry of egos.

2.iii. How does the person-world approach deal with the phenomenon of foreign languages? What is the explanation of the immediacy of my relation to my native language, which immediate relation I do not enjoy relative to foreign languages?

3.i. To insist that the totality have individuated palpable consciousness as constituent poses various difficulties. What to do with "other minds" (which are presumably constitutive to themselves but absolutely inaccessible to me)? What to do with the interruption of my own longitudinal existence by periods of unconsciousness?

3.ii. The accusation that the tenet of the material substrate of Being, and the tenet that the universe embodies an abstract pattern, are foolishly disdained by personhood theory.


We may summarize seven snags for the person-world premise.

—If I close my eyes, is that a qualitative alteration of the world?

—Do periods of dreamless sleep amount to non-existence of the world?

—Other minds.

—Mentally retarded people, nonparity of egos.

—The Chinese language: even though I don’t understand it, it’s so obviously a code, transcending my microcosm.

—Are my birth and death the endpoints of time?

—Alteration of the palpable by hypnosis; psychological manipulation and the erasure of features of the environs from perception.


To address some of the points. The person-world premise proposes that it is better to approach my own existence when unconscious, and other inaccessibles which common sense demands, as hypothecations—than it is to begin with a dead universe [an erratic machine] and treat palpable consciousness as a hypothecation or fiction.

A short answer to (2.i)-(2.iii) is that they are refractory for any proposed complete, rigorous world-account. (2.i)-(2.iii) are the reefs on which any world-account founders if it tries to be complete and rigorous.

—the egocentric predicament; the many-minds problem

—comprehension of language in thought

Physics doesn’t really attempt to be a complete picture: even though the triumphal literature of science contains many unchallenged bluffs that "mind" has been explained scientifically. (What they don’t claim is that physics can explain its own ethics of inquiry and judgment.) A second quick preliminary answer is that I repudiate any attempt to make the individuated ostensible world an Absolute. To the contrary, person-world theory avowedly starts from a mythified subject-matter.

Let me give a broader reply to the common-sense objection (1.i). If one starts by accepting the facts of nature, the facts of culture, the facts of economics: as externally established premises from which individual experience has to be deduced, one ends with: an artificially pedestrian reality, a (demonstrably) crippled praxis, a view of individual fate which makes the individual a pawn and a dupe implicitly. (Indeed, a world-view like that of the late and unlamented Soviet Union.) I take such ideology to be manifestly inadequate.

It is possible to be much more severe with these objections, to remark that they are an insult to our intelligence. For example, (3.ii). Matter, and a pattern that may be ascribed to it, would be of opposing reality-types; the two realities invoked by the objection are incongruous. What is more, there aren’t any public intellectuals today who are materialists; which is to say that there aren’t any public intellectuals who have not "gone back to religion." To hurl materialist catch-phrases today is insultingly insincere.

c. from "The Person-World Premise, IV"

The person-world orientation begins with a personally relative totality; that totality is non-trivial. By that, I mean that constituents such as

a.i) factual reality, or

a.ii) cognition—and its aspects

a.iii) factual perception

a.iv) operative epistemology

a.v) operative logic

are viewed on a par with constituents such as

b.i) choice-making (realized choices)

b.ii) ostensible coherence of "lived experience" and in particular the self

b.iii) modally different states (waking, dreaming, hypnagogic, fever, psychedelic, "morning amnesia")

b.iv) thematic personal identity

b.v) morale loyalties

b.vii) introspectively discernable self-deception

b.viii) introspectively discernable autosuggestive delusion

b.ix) overt self-degradation

(all conceived as culturally correlated and not merely idiosyncratic)

Two constituents listed in (b) require comment.

ii: "Lived experience" typically has coherence, with the self as presence and centered activation, etc. This coherence may become overtly variable or may vanish—particularly in states other than the alert waking state.

iii: Modally different states of the person-world. Not "altered states of consciousness": this psychological catchphrase perpetuates the scientific reality-assumptions which need to be overcome.

An orientation is needed which elucidates the interactions or interdependencies between such constituents as a.i-a.v and b.i-b.ix: at the palpable, introspectively discernable and confirmable level. (If the notion of causal relation is appropriate at all, then causation would be circular or scrambled here.)

The analysis does not find an inert or stable person-world. It doesn’t find a single "condition" of the person-world. Rather, beginning with the condition called the ordinary person-world, it finds that this ordinary person-world is pervaded with rational incoherences, and that it requires active dishonesty and (introspectively recoverable) repression to be sustained. The "juggling" that upholds the ordinary person-world is habitual and works by being unwitting; that is why its elucidation can be surprising.