19
   

Can you ever really know another person?

 
 
Dosed
 
Reply Fri 16 Jul, 2010 11:37 pm
When seeking advice from my friend concerning a failing relationship, he told me that no matter how close you think you are to someone, you can never truly "know" another human being.

What does this mean exactly? At first, it struck me as a sad and lonely truth.

After considering it for a while, this thought will not leave my mind. It seems very simple yet hard to accept. I feel like I "know" my best friend. I feel like I "know" my sister. And I did feel like I "knew" my partner. However, my experience has left me with the thought that perhaps I only had a feel for what kind of person he was, and how he would react to things that were said or done. This does not mean that I "know" him, though.

In other words, I can imagine what it is like to be someone. I can predict their reactions and perhaps even try to understand their perspective, but I can never truly experience their thoughts or feelings in the same way that they do.

So, what do you think? Can you truly "know" another person? And if not, how does that make you feel? Is your response a sad and lonely feeling as mine is? Does it bother you to know that no one can ever know you? Or understand you? To know that you can never know another human being?
 
roger
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Jul, 2010 11:51 pm
@Dosed,
I doubt you can. You could know your husband for years, and know him pretty well. They people he works with have known him just as long, and they know him pretty well, too. You and the people he works with would probably both be very surprised if you got together and talked about him. And there's dozens of other relationships he or you could be in, each with their own way of knowing him.

Did you know, for instance, that he kicks your cat when you're not looking. Your cat thinks he knows him too.

ps Sometimes cats lie.
Render
 
  2  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 12:12 am
@Dosed,
Notice that when you are enjoying an experience with another human being, this whole "not really knowing anybody thing" doesn't matter to you anymore. Try not to get stuck in objective scrutiny and miss out on and forget the actual experience.
0 Replies
 
aidan
 
  -1  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 12:12 am
@Dosed,
Quote:
Can you truly "know" another person?

Only if they want you to.
Quote:
And if not, how does that make you feel?

I think you can if they want you to.
Quote:
Is your response a sad and lonely feeling as mine is?

No, because I do have people in my life that I feel I know. I know I know my mother, I know I know my favorite sister and I know I know my best friend from childhood.
Quote:
Does it bother you to know that no one can ever know you?

I want people to know me - so I do think there are people who know me. It would make me feel too sad and alone to not let anyone really know me.
Quote:
Or understand you?

I do have people who I feel understand me.
Quote:
To know that you can never know another human being?

I don't believe this has to be true.

P.S. - my daughter did a whole art project on your avatar. Interesting choice of avatar give your topic thread...

URL: http://able2know.org/topic/158762-1
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  3  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 01:31 am
Smile
More interesting perhaps is the question "Can you really know yourself ?"
msolga
 
  2  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 01:49 am
@fresco,
You beat me to it, fresco.
I was just about to say: It's hard enough to truly know yourself, say nothing of fully understanding another person.
0 Replies
 
Francis
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 02:01 am
msolga wrote:
It's hard enough to truly know yourself, say nothing of fully understanding another person.

Sadly so, generating high frustration..
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  2  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 02:14 am
Yes. Without wandering too far from the OP, I think both questions amount to equating "know" with "predict".
aidan
 
  0  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 02:52 am
@fresco,
And in terms of dealing with or being able to predict oneself, is the operative word 'know' or 'face'?
In other words, I don't think it's as difficult to 'know' oneself sometimes as it is to 'face' what one knows about oneself.
msolga
 
  2  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 02:59 am
@aidan,
The trouble with getting to know ones self (or anyone else, for that matter) is that we are constantly changing. We hardly notice the changes occurring.
Besides, it isn't possible I truly believe, to pin ones self, or anyone else, down to anything like objective "truths". I think we tend to see what we want to see in ourselves & others.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 03:01 am
@aidan,
Freud started an industry from that !
0 Replies
 
aidan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 03:08 am
@msolga,
Quote:
The trouble with getting to know ones self (or anyone else, for that matter) is that we are constantly changing. We hardly notice the changes occurring.

Yep - some people don't allow for change - in themselves or others.
Others are observant and not only recognize, but expect and welcome change in themselves or others. So I think everyone experiences knowledge of themselves and others based on their own specific tendency in terms of that.

Quote:
I think we tend to see what we want to see in ourselves & others.

Only if you enjoy delusion or illusion instead of reality.
I think expectations of perfection might lead someone to do that. Someone who can accept that they're not perfect and so understands that no one else is doesn't really need to engage in that sort of perception through rose-tinted glasses.
fresco
 
  3  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 03:11 am
@msolga,
Quote:
One of man’s important mistakes, one which must be remembered, is his illusion in regard to his I.
Man such as we know him, the 'man-machine,' the man who cannot 'do,' and with whom and through whom everything 'happens,’ cannot have a permanent and single I. His I changes as quickly as his thoughts, feelings and moods, and he makes a profound mistake in considering himself always one and the same person; in reality he is always a different person, not the one he was a moment ago.
Man has no permanent and unchangeable I. Every thought, every mood, every desire, every sensation, says "I".
Man has no individual I. But there are, instead, hundreds and thousands of separate small "I"s, very often entirely unknown to one another, never coming into contact, or, on the contrary, hostile to each other, mutually exclusive and incompatible. Each minute, each moment, man is saying or thinking, "I". And each time his I is different. Just now it was a thought, now it is a desire, now a sensation, now another thought, and so on, endlessly. Man is a plurality. Man's name is legion.
Ouspensky "In Search of the Miraculous"
msolga
 
  2  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 03:21 am
@fresco,
Quote:
... Each minute, each moment, man is saying or thinking, "I". And each time his I is different. Just now it was a thought, now it is a desire, now a sensation, now another thought, and so on, endlessly. Man is a plurality. Man's name is legion.


That makes perfect sense to me, fresco.
0 Replies
 
Mame
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 05:04 am
I think it's possible to know the essence of someone, the spirit of them, for sure. And how much does one need to know of the other person? The thing is, with actions and speech, they're telling you something about themselves - whatever they think you want to see, whatever they feel like sharing at that moment. But how honest is that? You can't know for sure, but you can feel their essence and get a pretty good sense of who and what they are, over time.
Francis
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 05:08 am
@Mame,
I don't think so..
0 Replies
 
melonkali
 
  2  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 06:21 am
@aidan,
aidan wrote:


Quote:
I think we tend to see what we want to see in ourselves & others.

Only if you enjoy delusion or illusion instead of reality.
I think expectations of perfection might lead someone to do that. Someone who can accept that they're not perfect and so understands that no one else is doesn't really need to engage in that sort of perception through rose-tinted glasses.



"Unrealistic optimism" may well be the "norm", at least in the U.S. Studies have shown a considerable difference between a subject's self-image and others' evaluations of him; a considerable difference between how a subject believes others perceive him and how they actually do perceive him; a considerable gap between a subject's future expectations and others' evaluations of his future prospects; a considerable gap between a subject's future expectations for a defined period of time or a particular situation, and his actual life situation at the end of that time, or the outcome of that situation.

However, similar studies applied to people diagnosed with mild to moderate depression evidenced that these subjects' self-image and future expectations correlated closer with others' evaluations, predictions and actual outcomes. This phenomenon has been labeled "depressive realism".

The last time I read about depressive realism, a few years back, studies were beginning to focus on, "Is some degree of unrealistic optimism necessary to function normally or optimally?" -- and comparing different societies and cultures in this regard.

Kind of reminds me of school and driver's license photos -- how many people have looked at their own photo and exclaimed, "Oh, that's such a horrible picture of me!", while others were probably thinking, "No it's not -- you really look like that."

rebecca

0 Replies
 
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 06:45 am
@Dosed,
Dosed wrote:

When seeking advice from my friend concerning a failing relationship, he told me that no matter how close you think you are to someone, you can never truly "know" another human being.

What does this mean exactly? At first, it struck me as a sad and lonely truth.

After considering it for a while, this thought will not leave my mind. It seems very simple yet hard to accept. I feel like I "know" my best friend. I feel like I "know" my sister. And I did feel like I "knew" my partner. However, my experience has left me with the thought that perhaps I only had a feel for what kind of person he was, and how he would react to things that were said or done. This does not mean that I "know" him, though.

In other words, I can imagine what it is like to be someone. I can predict their reactions and perhaps even try to understand their perspective, but I can never truly experience their thoughts or feelings in the same way that they do.

So, what do you think? Can you truly "know" another person? And if not, how does that make you feel? Is your response a sad and lonely feeling as mine is? Does it bother you to know that no one can ever know you? Or understand you? To know that you can never know another human being?


The question would depend on the difference between just "know" and, "really know". A customary function of the term "really" (as in, "really X") is to raise the bar of X-ing so that it is impossible to X. So the question would ultimately depend on what the questioner thought would be a case of not only knowing another person, but of really knowing another person. Of course, if the questioner (as I expect) cannot offer such a case, it is probable that she has raised the bar of knowing another person so high that it is impossible to satisfy it. And, in that case, of course, it would be impossible to "really know" another person because the questioner has made it so. So, what you should ask the questioner is, "what do you think would be a case of really knowing someone? For example, what would it be to really know your mother (husband, child, best friend, etc.)? Then see what she replies? As in so many of these philosophical questions, there is no hope of answering them unless you know what is being asked.

Let me add that it often happens that such a question is not a genuine question at all, but a rhetorical question which contains its own answer. The person who asked it might (for instance) have just been disappointed by someone from whom she had expectations. For instance a person whom she trusted who betrayed her. As it seems to be in this case. Then the question is not a genuine question at all. It is, rather, an expression of disappointment and even disgust that people should act as they do. It is how a sentence functions that counts, and a sentence that has the grammatical form of a question may not function as a question at all, but in quite a different way. As seems to be this case.
aidan
 
  0  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 06:58 am
@kennethamy,
Is it not legitimate for the questioned to insert their definition of 'really' in terms of really knowing someone, if the questioner hasn't elaborated fully on what s/he means by 'really'?

I interpreted 'really' knowing someone to be knowing them as they are 'in reality'.

Granted, there are far more people I don't 'really' know than I do, but yes there are people I feel I know as they are 'in reality' and who, in fact have assured me that I know them by saying to me, 'You KNOW me'.

And I don't think they're liars or lying.

But all of that aside, my answer is still 'Yes'. If someone wants you to know him or her and you listen, watch, observe and experience them - you can 'really' know another person- yes.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 07:12 am
@aidan,
aidan wrote:

Is it not legitimate for the questioned to insert their definition of 'really' in terms of really knowing someone, if the questioner hasn't elaborated fully on what s/he means by 'really'?

I interpreted 'really' knowing someone to be knowing them as they are 'in reality'.

Granted, there are far more people I don't 'really' know than I do, but yes there are people I feel I know as they are 'in reality' and who, in fact have assured me that I know them by saying to me, 'You KNOW me'.

And I don't think they're liars or lying.

But all of that aside, my answer is still 'Yes'. If someone wants you to know him or her and you listen, watch, observe and experience them - you can 'really' know another person- yes.


I never said it was not legitimate. I said that the use of the term
"really know" usually indicates that the questioner has already decided that there cannot be a case of "really knowing" (as contrasted with just plain knowing) and that this would become clear when you asked the questioner for a case of "really knowing". Besides, as I pointed out, in the particular case offered, the question, "Can you ever really know someone?" is rhetorical, and the implicit answer is, no. Certainly if, as suggested in the op, really knowing someone else implies "looking into his mind" in the sense of having the thoughts and feelings of the other person, the answer is resoundingly, no. If only for the reason that if you had the thoughts of another, they would be your thoughts and not those of the other.

But, I agree with you. I think I know some people very well (meaning that I am quite able to predict as accurately as one can do such thing) the kind of things they will do or say under given circumstances. Of course, this is a matter of degree. And I know some people better than others.
0 Replies
 
 

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