Volume 10 · Number 2 · Pages 227–237
What Can the Global Observer Know?

Diana Gasparyan

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Context: The detection of objective reality, truth, and lies are still heated topics in epistemology. When discussing these topics, philosophers often resort to certain thought experiments, engaging an important concept that can be broadly identified as “the global observer.” It relates to Putnam’s God’s Eye, Davidson’s Omniscient Interpreter, and the ultimate observer in quantum physics, among others. Problem: The article explores the notion of the global observer as the guarantor of the determinability and configuration of events in the world. It analyzes the consistency of the notion “global observer” from the standpoint of logic and philosophy, and discusses why application of this notion in some contexts poses challenges and appears to be paradoxical. Method: The paper uses conceptual methods of argumentation, such as logical (deduction) and philosophical (phenomenology) kinds of proof. Its key approach is the engagement of thought experiments. Results: The notion of a global observer is incoherent: “being global” and “being an observer” appear to be incompatible features. It is claimed that from the standpoint of global observation, there are no events occurring in the world. Furthermore, the indefiniteness of the world as a whole is asserted, which is related to the uninformedness of the global observer regarding the “true state of affairs.” “Global observation” turns out to be incompatible with the concept of the observer, blocking, as a result, the opportunity for a determinable configuration of events. It only makes sense to discuss local observations, which are limited to mutual observation or introspections, and not to assume the existence of some absolute truth, reality, or the state of affairs beyond the local observations. Constructivist content: The article emphasizes the role of the observer and observation. It opens up some problematic consequences of the core philosophical assumptions of globally observing existence. Referring to von Foerster’s and Luhmann’s idea that we can only speak reasonably about local observations, the paper argues that reality is neither external to nor independent of the observer. Implications: The paper could be productive for epistemic theories, theories of quantum physics, and theories of non-classical logic.

Key words: Global observer, ultimate observer, omniscient observer, ideal observer, omniscient interpreter, local observer, limited observer, event, truth.


Gasparyan D. (2015) What can the global observer know? Constructivist Foundations 10(2): 227–237. http://constructivist.info/10/2/227

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