MMP2506
 
Reply Tue 9 Mar, 2010 09:30 pm
Personal Identity has become a widely debated topic especially since the rise of modernism, with the term "person" becoming rather exclusive to referring mostly to humanity, but has this always been the case?

I would like to get a wide consensus on what actually entails personhood, and maybe get some different ideas concerning the existence or non-existence of the "self."

What do the terms "person," "individual" and "human being" mean to you, and are they interchangeable?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 6 • Views: 6,377 • Replies: 84
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Fido
 
  0  
Reply Thu 11 Mar, 2010 08:55 pm
@MMP2506,
Who I am is how I feel, and what I am is what I think.
Diogenes phil
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Mar, 2010 09:22 pm
@MMP2506,
I think, therefore I am.
Pythagorean
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Mar, 2010 09:41 pm
@Fido,
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.

- -
MMP2506
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Mar, 2010 09:52 pm
@Fido,
Fido;138819 wrote:
Who I am is how I feel, and what I am is what I think.


Then what are other persons? Can you even know other people?
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 04:53 am
@MMP2506,
MMP2506;138833 wrote:
Then what are other persons? Can you even know other people?

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.
MMP2506
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 11:40 am
@Fido,
Fido;138909 wrote:
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 ----------

Pythagorean;138830 wrote:
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.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 12:31 pm
@MMP2506,
MMP2506;138083 wrote:
Personal Identity has become a widely debated topic especially since the rise of modernism, with the term "person" becoming rather exclusive to referring mostly to humanity, but has this always been the case?

I would like to get a wide consensus on what actually entails personhood, and maybe get some different ideas concerning the existence or non-existence of the "self."

What do the terms "person," "individual" and "human being" mean to you, and are they interchangeable?


It is not what those words mean to me that counts. It is what those words mean. "Human being" is a biological term. It refers to those who have human DNA. "Person" is what John Locke called, a "forensic term". A person has certain rights and duties, both legal and moral. Some human beings are not persons. For instance, the very feeble-minded. A fetus. And, some persons might not be human beings. Mr. Spock of Star Trek was only part human being, but he was a person. Martians (if there are any) might be persons, but not human beings. An "individual" means a particular person.
MMP2506
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 01:03 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;139078 wrote:
It is not what those words mean to me that counts. It is what those words mean. "Human being" is a biological term. It refers to those who have human DNA. "Person" is what John Locke called, a "forensic term". A person has certain rights and duties, both legal and moral. Some human beings are not persons. For instance, the very feeble-minded. A fetus. And, some persons might not be human beings. Mr. Spock of Star Trek was only part human being, but he was a person. Martians (if there are any) might be persons, but not human beings. An "individual" means a particular person.


The meanings for words change over time. Person as a persistently existing entity is a relatively new concept. Which is why God is described as three persons in one. This wasn't an attempt at any forensic explanation for God being three beings in one, this was three different manifestations of God.

Person derives from persona, which also serves a different meaning in language today. Persona derives from the Greek word prosopon, which was a term to describe the face of something, like a mask. So personhood for the Greeks was a manifestation of the soul, and not something that could be objectively studied or observed.

I agree with what you said, but that still leaves questions unanswered such as:

Is a person the same over the course of his life, or does that person change, and if that person changes, should what the person changed into be punished for acts committed prior to that change?
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 01:28 pm
@MMP2506,
MMP2506;139092 wrote:
The meanings for words change over time. Person as a persistently existing entity is a relatively new concept. Which is why God is described as three persons in one. This wasn't an attempt at any forensic explanation for God being three beings in one, this was three different manifestations of God.

Person derives from persona, which also serves a different meaning in language today. Persona derives from the Greek word prosopon, which was a term to describe the face of something, like a mask. So personhood for the Greeks was a manifestation of the soul, and not something that could be objectively studied or observed.

I agree with what you said, but that still leaves questions unanswered such as:



Is a person the same over the course of his life, or does that person change, and if that person changes, should what the person changed into be punished for acts committed prior to that change?



Of course meanings change. But how does that imply that a word does not have the meaning it has at a particular time? The etymology of a word has nothing to do with the word's present meaning. For the reason you just gave. Meanings change through time.

Linguists make a sharp distinction between diachronic and synchronic meaning. Meaning through time, and meaning in the present. You are confusing them.

Persons are the same all through their life, and they change too. If they were not the same, there would be nothing to change. But, how to understand persistence through change is the philosophic task. Aristotle's idea was to distinguish between essential qualities and accidental qualities. But I don't think that works very well because it is difficult to distinguish between the two kind of qualities. Thare are other ideas, though.
MMP2506
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 01:51 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;139097 wrote:
Of course meanings change. But how does that imply that a word does not have the meaning it has at a particular time? The etymology of a word has nothing to do with the word's present meaning. For the reason you just gave. Meanings change through time.

Linguists make a sharp distinction between diachronic and synchronic meaning. Meaning through time, and meaning in the present. You are confusing them.

Persons are the same all through their life, and they change too. If they were not the same, there would be nothing to change. But, how to understand persistence through change is the philosophic task. Aristotle's idea was to distinguish between essential qualities and accidental qualities. But I don't think that works very well because it is difficult to distinguish between the two kind of qualities. Thare are other ideas, though.


I don't think we can only go by what words mean today, because their current meaning is an evolved form of their original meaning. I wouldn't say they are two sharply distinct and separate meanings. They are necessarily related to each other.

Problems also arise when trying to pinpoint "present" meaning, because what is the present very quickly becomes the past. Where does the line exist between past and present meanings? If I am presently using a word in which the meaning will change tomorrow, it will become quite a task to understand my statement tomorrow unless you go back to the previous meaning of the word. We may live in the present, but we rely on the past for much of our knowledge; therefore, I feel the past must be understood in its full context.

Also when looking at historical documents, they can't be understood unless they are looked at within the context they were written. Since meanings change, we can't just read a document circa 150 BC which was subsequently translated from Greek into English unless enough is known about the culture of Greece at the time, and how words translate from Greek into English.

This is done often by people trying to read Aristotle through the scope of today's Modern world-view, but for the reasons I pointed out above, nothing can be learned about Aristotle by studying him this way.
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 03:39 pm
@MMP2506,
We are not looking at historical documents so much as translations and explanations of documents, but from reasing translations of Aristotle and Plato, I think their arguments are pretty cohesive and well laid out with enough explanation to be understood...
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 04:10 pm
@MMP2506,
The 'personal' is highly over-rated in today's world, as Pythagorean said. But one has to be very careful in diagnosing this particular ailment. Personal freedom, freedom of expression, and the freedom to 'be yourself' is, I think, profoundly significant, and something to be protected at all costs. We would not like to sacrifice the individual freedoms that we have in the West.

But the broader issue is, again, the 'spiritual dislocation' of Western society. The whole concept of The Person is to some extent a Western creation. Christianity prized every individual in a way that many other philosophies and religions did not. This attitude is very important, but when it is removed from the broader context of a spiritual philosophy, all that remains is 'the person' as an island of value and meaning in an otherwise dead universe. We loose all sense of connection to each other and the world around us. And it is undoubtedly true that this is the condition of very many people in the world today.

In today's world, the individual is the law, provided he or she acts in accordance with the civil law. This puts the ego at the centre of the universe, which is of course a recipe for disaster. But it must be criticized constructively. The ego has to be transcended, seen through, not suppressed or fought with. A proper spiritual philosophy and practice - a true philosophical yoga - is the only way to do this. This understands the ego as simply the manifestation of the much deeper spiritual principle which animates all living beings. But this is to be seen and freely chosen. By this means, one can discover a larger sense of self which casts your question in a whole new light.:bigsmile:
0 Replies
 
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 04:14 pm
@MMP2506,
MMP2506;139101 wrote:
I don't think we can only go by what words mean today, because their current meaning is an evolved form of their original meaning. I wouldn't say they are two sharply distinct and separate meanings. They are necessarily related to each other.

.


That's like saying that we cannot know what kind of animal a horse is today, because it is an evolved form of the original animal is evolved from.
MMP2506
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 04:29 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;139147 wrote:
That's like saying that we cannot know what kind of animal a horse is today, because it is an evolved form of the original animal is evolved from.


Have we not learned more about the horse by understanding the evolution of the horse?

I would argue that we can never truly know the horse, but our understanding of the horse today is greater because the information learned by studying the evolution of the horse.

Everything in the present has traces of the past in it, so by studying the past of a thing, you will learn more about its preset. There are things that can be learned by studying the past of a thing that cannot be learned by studying a thing's present alone.
Pepijn Sweep
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 04:30 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;139147 wrote:
That's like saying that we cannot know what kind of animal a horse is today, because it is an evolved form of the original animal is evolved from.


Shetland pony; Black Frisian horse; arabs; etcetera.:whoa-dude:

Mustang:lol:
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 04:38 pm
@MMP2506,
MMP2506;139150 wrote:
Have we not learned more about the horse by understanding the evolution of the horse?

I would argue that we can never truly know the horse, but our understanding of the horse today is greater because the information learned by studying the evolution of the horse.

Everything in the present has traces of the past in it, so by studying the past of a thing, you will learn more about its preset. There are things that can be learned by studying the past of a thing that cannot be learned by studying a thing's present alone.


But the horse today is different from what it evolved from. That we can learn more about the horse today by knowing how it evolved is certainly true. Nevertheless, they are not the same. The same is true of words. For instance, we are often told that "philosophy" means, "the love of wisdom" because that is its ancient Greek etymology. But, (1) It does not follow that because that is what it used to mean in ancient Greek, that is what it means today. And (2) in fact, that is not what it means today. And (1) follows from (2).
0 Replies
 
MMP2506
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 04:41 pm
@Fido,
Fido;139129 wrote:
We are not looking at historical documents so much as translations and explanations of documents, but from reasing translations of Aristotle and Plato, I think their arguments are pretty cohesive and well laid out with enough explanation to be understood...


Take the word soul for example. Aristotle and Plato both frequently used the word soul to describe a person's basic desires, virtues, and reason. Much like the word personality would be used today.

The word soul today is mainly used within a religious framework and really only comes into play when discussing life after death, not life itself. Western tradition has turned the soul into something that cannot be studied, but for Plato, the soul was easily observable.

If one attempts to read Plato's theory of soul, without any knowledge of what the word soul meant to Plato, then one would assume the current definition of soul and infer Plato is discussing religion. In reality he is just talking about the basic structure of Man within what we could consider a psychological framework.

---------- Post added 03-12-2010 at 04:49 PM ----------

kennethamy;139154 wrote:
But the horse today is different from what it evolved from. That we can learn more about the horse today by knowing how it evolved is certainly true. Nevertheless, they are not the same. The same is true of words. For instance, we are often told that "philosophy" means, "the love of wisdom" because that is its ancient Greek etymology. But, (1) It does not follow that because that is what it used to mean in ancient Greek, that is what it means today. And (2) in fact, that is not what it means today. And (1) follows from (2).


The fact that two things may be different, doesn't imply that they are disconnected. I agree that the horse is different today from what it evolved from, but without what it evolved from, it wouldn't be what it is today.

The world is constantly changing, so the now is not possible to study because the now becomes the then before you can even realize it is the now. All we ever study is the past of things because by the time we realize somethings current state it immediately becomes a past state. By understanding a thing farther into its past, you will understand more about it as a whole, and not just from a singular present standpoint.

We can learn tendencies associated with the horse, but because the world is currently evolving, those tendencies may change, but that doesn't mean the knowledge we gained from these tendencies will not be helpful down the road.
0 Replies
 
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 05:26 pm
@Pepijn Sweep,
Pepijn Sweep;139152 wrote:
Shetland pony; Black Frisian horse; arabs; etcetera.:whoa-dude:

Mustang:lol:

Donkeys and zebras
0 Replies
 
William
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 05:39 pm
@MMP2506,
There is no self without the other. We are just another of the other and that is all we are.

william
 

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