The Inside versus the Outside: What You See versus What Other People See

Isn’t it weird that, when you look at someone, you can only see their outside but not their inside? That, when you enter a room filled with people, the only thing you see is a group of faces and bodies moving around? I find this fascinating. And you know what is even more fascinating than that? All of these people – including yourself – experience the way they look at themselves in a manner that is fundamentally different from the manner in which they look at someone else. People never see, unless they look in the mirror of course, the exterior part of themselves; they are forced to always experience what is inside of them, whether they like it or not. “So what?”, you might ask. What are the implications of this obvious observation?

Imagine yourself making a joke in front of your friends and all of them burst into laughter. That means they must have found the joke funny, right? Well, maybe. The fact that you might have found the joke funny doesn’t imply that they found it funny too. They are indeed showing all the signs of someone finding a joke funny, but you will never know whether this was truly the case. Even if you would ask them, and they would say they found your joke funny, you still wouldn’t know for sure. They might be lying, right?

Another example: imagine yourself being engaged in a regular conversation. Are you in this case talking to “the something” – whatever this might be – that is inside of the other person’s body, or are you talking to the body itself? In other words: do you consider there to be a difference between what might be inside of someone’s body – call it “a spirit” – and the person’s body – his outer layer – preventing the spirit from being blown away by the wind?

Personally, I find it fascinating to think about this difference between what you might consider to be the other person, or the picture you might have in your mind of the other person, and what this person might consider him- or herself to be. There is likely to be a tremendous difference between the two. Someone who you might have been looking up to in the past, because of the way he or she looked, spoke, acted etc., might turn out to have the very same beliefs, thoughts and worries that you have. So, you could say that, although you might look differently, you are in fact very much the same kind of person. That’s also why those gossip magazines are so popular, right? People love seeing people they look up to having the same kinds of problems (relationships, weight, etc.) that they have.

One more thing: imagine that, while you are reading this, there are 7 billion other people in the world having the same first-person perspective that you and I are having. We are all, for that matter, playing our own little video game. And you know what is funny? We cannot switch players. We are stuck 24/7 in first-person mode. Unless we are game-over of course, because no-one knows what will happen then.

But what do you think?

Written by Rob Graumans

3 thoughts on “The Inside versus the Outside: What You See versus What Other People See

  1. Pingback: Ontology: A Superfluous Realm | The Young Socrates

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  3. Yes I’ve thought about that, and it has made me freak out a bit one time. Just the idea that every other person is having the same kind of first person experience as you is weird to think about. How they experience their body, their thoughts, and the world.

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