Speaking From 1st Person

When I speak as and from 1st person, it is more true to my own experience, and sounds more true to those hearing it as well. I do not pretend to speak for others, and that helps the recipient relax and listen more openly, with less need for defensiveness.

When I speak from 2nd or 3rd person, it does not ring true to my own nor to other’s experience. I am overgeneralizing, I am taking my experience and pretend that it is also the experience of others. In this case, the listener is bound to think of thousands of instances which does not fit with what I just said, and there will be a good deal of resistance, defensiveness and even hostility coming up.

I the first case, I can say “in my experience”, “for me” and so on. In the second case, I say “when you” as a generalization, or “it is” with an air of an objective statement true for all cases.

This is played out in western science as well. In its previous modern and positivistic phase, they believed in absolute objectivity and keeping personal preferences – and indeed anything human – out of the picture. The official language of science was completely devoid of any reference to an observer or interpreter, or acknowledgement of being filtered through a particular view. It was a completely third person language, with an air of objectivity.

Now, in the post-modern era, we know that there is no such thing as objectivity. Our experiences of the world comes through innumerable filters – including how this particular universe is set up, the characteristics of this particular solar system and planet, the evolution of the Earth, the evolution of our own species, our culture and subcultures, our history as individuals and much more. And we also know that as soon as we observe anything, the act of observing influences the overall situation including that which is observed. It is all one intimate system and we cannot exclude ourselves – as observers or researchers – from it. And from this recognition comes a language which is more first person, more true to our own experience and what is really going on. It is more human again.

Of course, the integration of the two is to still seek findings that holds true “objectively” while fully acknowledging our subjectivity and biases. They enrich rather than exclude each other.

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