Signal privilege vs representation privilege in introspection
(Lightly edited conversation with Suspended Reason)
Hazard : I think most of the tension between “people can obviously introspect, duh” and “people seem to be getting themselves wrong all the fucking time” can be talked about in terms of the Representation and Uncertainty stuff @collin_lysford has been writing about.
Example: thinking about “resonance”. I (and “most” people*) have the ability to tap into some kind of “that feels right, that feels connected to what I care about, this is something I want more of”. You can put something in front of me and I can give a read on that.
The meaning of that signal though, depends a ton on representation!
I remember in middle school my church had a sermon on not half-assing being a christian, and it hella resonated with me! I was like “this is the shit! This really connects with what is important to me, I want to act on this” and spent time thinking what it would look like to take christiantiy more seriously. Even after deconverting I can think about how that sermon resonated with me, and I think what actually connected was the general idea of not half-assing stuff. If a friend at school had gone off about how “people are half-assing learning!” I would have been equally “fuck yeah!”
Like, it’s the wiggle room provided by the word “this” in “ooo, this resonantes”. Well what is “this”, exactly? Unless you really poke at different aspects of the thing that just resonated, and try different frames, a default seems to take your prior representation of what “this” is, and say that “that” is what resonates. (“this” is a sermon on taking christianity more seriously).
An easier example is food. You can get incredibly reliable “I like this” and “I don’t like this”, but what you don’t get for free is “what is ‘this’ actually?” Is it “burgers” in general you like? Is it the way they seasoned it? Is it cooked better than you’ve had before? Representing “this” falls under “general hypothesis forming and testing” (which you can get better and faster at) which has the same guarantees and obstacles it always has.
@suspended_reason the above is an expansion on what you mentioned the other day. I’m trying to figure out how I want to word this.
A term that other people have used is “epistemic privilege” but I don’t like it. I want to say something like “you have privileged access to various information channels” (others aren’t plugged into your nervous system the way you are, I can thinking of a number and I know it and you don’t, blah blah blah) but you don’t have “representational privilege”. Maybe we call this signal privilege vs representation privilege?
This also gets at when you’d expect you vs others to “see” you better. Like, it’s almost always the case that you have waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more access (or potential access) to info about your history and what is going on inside you during any given moment. But you can also just… not be making use of it, and you might also be stuck in a bad representation.
Like, you can be so estranged from your proprioceptive sense of touch that, even though you could know more about how your body is feeling, someone with training can be like “hey, looks like your XYZ is hurting a lot and this and that is tight” and they can be right. You aren’t using all your info channels + they are much better trained at accurately representing stuff from said info channel, even when they have to read it “second hand” through looking at your body.
Suspended Reason : I think “The introspector has extra information as well as extra motivation to distort his theories, and these can ~balance out in many situations unless care is taken” feels like the right compression to me