We can only think we know others, since people are infinites and beyond true knowledge... And if we could know them there would be no reason for a relationship...If we know someone well enough to dislike them, we avoid them...As we give and grow, we want others with us who can give and grow, and in a good relationship growth and change are taken for granted.
So by "know" you mean a complete grasping of that person in its entirety?
I would agree we cannot know anyone as such, as I don't see any person existing in that way. I also very much agree that the very relationship itself between two people is a very important learning process that teaches us more than just about that particular person. That point was well said.
I do feel, however, it is possible to come to know people, as in become closer to understanding them, which may be congruent with what you put as "give and grow," but never truly grasp what a person is in its entirety. Modern paradigms are the only ones that seem to claim this is possible, and the claim comes from the notion that a person is nothing more than a human being, when I think previous to modernism, the term personhood meant much more than just a human being, although a person could manifest out of a human being.
Still problems exist within judiciary situations, such as when to punish a person. If we can never know another person, how can we punish them? Also how do groups become people, such as corporations do when they achieve legal personhood?
---------- Post added 03-12-2010 at 11:45 AM ----------
The self is over-rated today. To the point of hubris. The self is a criminal or an obscene evil power, according to experts on the self like Doestoevsky and Nietzsche.
According to the modern self human nature is irrational, unintelligible or even non-existent. The self without natural teleology or divinity as a guide, is the mere expression of nihilism. If there is no 'mankind' to speak of anymore, then the individual, as individual, escapes the grasp of reason and falls into a pit.
This self is an underground basement/rat-hole phenomenon breeding cynicism, neuroses and spiritual home-sickness. And if the disease weren't so widespread it would be laughable.
Only a return to great politics, the advent of Ceasarism, a hollow-cost, environmental catastrophe, civil war, nuclear armageddon etc., could save them from the little mocking joke that has become their selves.
Right, the self/consciousness cannot exist out of the context in which it is existing. I think the self is distinguishable, but only to a certain degree, and only within a state of affairs. As far as human behavior goes, the line between where the personality of the person ends and the situation the person is engaged in is often rather vague; however; psychologists often try to study one or the other by themselves, out of context.
Nietzsche I think hit this problem right on the head, as I feel he sees the person as only existing out of that tension between "consciousness" and the "environment," and to try to pinpoint the exact location of the "person" is impossible because persons don't necessarily exist within a given space or time.