On Jun 17, 2005, at 10:24 AM, Hal Finney wrote:
Does it make sense for Jobs to say, who would I have been if that had
Yes, it makes sense, but only because we know that the phrase "Who
would I have been", uttered by Steve Jobs, is just a convenient way
for expressing a third-person proposition, "What would have happened
to Steve Jobs if...". Which in turn is also a short way of asking
about the whole world, i.e., "What would the world have been like if
Steve Jobs had been adopted by someone else". The part of the world
that's the main target of this question is the part that wears
turtlenecks, makes Apple computers and calls itself Steve - so here
it just gets replaced by "I". But logically, by asking "who would I
have been", Steve's not inquiring into anything that a third-person
observer could not also inquire into.
The apparent problems can be solved by translating these questions
into third-person terms. for example,
So yes, if you can imagine what it would have been like to eat
else for breakfast, then you should be able to imagine what it
been like to be born as someone else.
For breakfast: what would have happened to the world (especially the
Steve Jobs part of the world) if Steve Jobs had had something else
For birth: what would the world be like if Steve Jobs hadn't been
born, but his biological parents had had some other child?
There's no sense in asking "what if I was born as someone else", no
more than there is asking "what would Steve Jobs be like if Steve
Jobs had never been born?" But there is sense in asking what would
be different about the world. The problems here all come from
overzealous emphasis on the "first person perspective". In other
words, I think the mistake is made by asking the question "what would
>it< have been like", instead of the question "what would >the
world< have been like". The thing that the "it" refers to (a first-
person perspective, presumably) is not a thing that exists in the
world framed by the question.