19
   

Can you ever really know another person?

 
 
djjd62
 
  2  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 07:12 am
Can you ever really know another person?

no, at best, you could only know a person as well as they know themselves*, and even that's a long shot

*and nobody, no matter how hard they try can ever truly know themselves, even if you could imagine how you would react to or think about, every given situation and it's myriad of variables that might happen to you, until it happens, it's all just supposition
aidan
 
  0  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 07:19 am
@djjd62,
Quote:
no, at best, you could only know a person as well as they know themselves*

Why is that? I don't think anyone knows anyone in exactly the same way anyone knows anyone.
Everyone is capable of differing levels of observation and comprehension.

So if someone doesn't know him or herself, but exhibits certain behaviors, all those around him or her can only know him or her, despite their behaviors, to the same extent the person in question knows him or herself?

Do they only know the same things? Or is it possible they may have observed or comprehended different aspects of the person's personality than the person him or herself has observed and comprehended and is knowing of?

Have you never heard anyone say, 'You know me better than I know myself?'

I've felt that about one friend I have who constantly shocks me with very astute observations that I have to admit are true about myself, but only after he's pointed them out to me.

kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 07:22 am
@djjd62,
djjd62 wrote:

Can you ever really know another person?

no, at best, you could only know a person as well as they know themselves*, and even that's a long shot

*and nobody, no matter how hard they try can ever truly know themselves, even if you could imagine how you would react to or think about, every given situation and it's myriad of variables that might happen to you, until it happens, it's all just supposition


Ah, that word, "truly" and "really" keeps popping up. People don't deny that we can know ("understand" is what is meant) others. They just deny that we can truly or really understand others. And everything changes with the introduction of those two adverbs from a yes, to doubtful, or even as in your case, to a definite, no.
0 Replies
 
djjd62
 
  2  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 07:31 am
@aidan,
but observation isn't enough to "know someone", that's just identification, you can never know the true essence of a person, even if they could explain their thoughts or how they might react to anything that might happen to them, it would only be speculation until it happens

for instance, your instincts say, i would do anything to protect to my children, and you tell you tell someone this, so they say, i know how this person thinks or would react to this situation, then a situation arises and you find what you believed about yourself to be untrue, you no longer know yourself, and neither does the other person

if by some chance you could figure out every minute detail about yourself, and guarantee those findings were true, then, and only then could someone else know you if you shared those truths

going back to the observation idea, think about a magic show or someone like ted bundy, simple observation of the facts displayed is not enough
Francis
 
  2  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 07:34 am
@djjd62,
Indeed, let alone personalities too complex for people to understand..
0 Replies
 
Izzie
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 07:47 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.
...

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?



Nah, I don't think you can ever really know someone else, or yourself for that matter.

You can know your every day things, what you believe to be your morals or ethics or whatever, but when a situation arises, or something happens that you have not experienced before - until it actually happens, you don't know how you are going to react, you may think you know how to react to any eventuality - but I don't believe you really do know for sure.

You may react a certain way for the most part e.g. going to work, habits, mannerisms, relationships with folk - but then one day, something happens and everything can change in a split second - you don't know how to react or how to deal with it - so what you thought you knew, you no longer do.

Same goes with other people - the closest person in my world in my best friend who lives a long way away - we are unthinkably close at times and strangely know when something is wrong / good... weirdly so - and then I have another person whom I share similar feelings to...

I think those two people are whom I trust most in the world, the only people I trust implicitly not to let me down on purpose or for their gain....

but that's the crux of it, "knowing" someone (to me) is having that trust in someone that I can be myself, warts and all - so I believe I know them (albeit both from a great distance) in that they will not to try to hurt me in any way - so they have my trust. That doesn't mean that they couldn't hurt me but I believe they "know me" as much as they can, so they wouldn't do it intentionally. I believe I know my best friend more than anyone else does in the world - I'm very blessed to have her in my life.

There are a lot of people I thought I knew, including close family, when really, I didn't know them, or they reacted in a completely different way when the chips were down...

I don't think it's a sad a lonely feeling tho, as you do Dosed - yep, it can make you feel terrible when someone who you thought you knew, is not that person - but you cannot control other peoples thoughts and feelings and actions, so I don't believe there is any way to truly wholly "know" someone else.

Then again, sometimes you can think you know yourself, and yet, you act completely out of character and can end up questioning your whole being. Then, you're up the proverbial creek without a paddle. Eventually, it settles down and you get on with life and hopefully learn from the experience - or not, and repeat the same mistakes over. It can, at times like that, feel lonely and sad, but I think that's more to do with how you feel about yourself and knowing yourself, than anything to do with knowing another human being.

Maybe not try to "know" everything about someone else - because you surely never will - accept them for who you see them to be and what they are to you - their knowledge of themself is theirs - how they are with you and react to you - that's all that's important.

If you think you know someone - you expect/predict them to act / be a certain way - sometimes, unfortunately, but not surprisingly - your expectations will not be met. Expect only the best from yourself and just accept others as they are and what they wish to share with you. Enjoy life as much as possible with the only expectation that no-body is perfect.

There are many people in the world with whom to have friendship and feel love towards - accept them into your life and try to never take them for granted - you'll count your true friends probably on one hand or if you are very fortunate, on two hands. Be your best with them and if they see your worst too, and are still there for you, then you've made a good judgement on knowing that they are good in your life.

Real life versus not in real life - well, I have people who know me pretty well and whom I feel I know pretty well, love them too, yet I haven't met, but I believe in my judgement of them until I'm shown otherwise. Occasionally I find out I am oh so wrong - but that's life.

Know your inner self more than trying to know the inner self of others.
eoe
 
  2  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 08:06 am
@roger,
roger wrote:

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.


This is so very true.
0 Replies
 
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 08:39 am
@Izzie,
Izzie wrote:

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.
...

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?



Nah, I don't think you can ever really know someone else, or yourself for that matter.

You can know your every day things, what you believe to be your morals or ethics or whatever, but when a situation arises, or something happens that you have not experienced before - until it actually happens, you don't know how you are going to react, you may think you know how to react to any eventuality - but I don't believe you really do know for sure.

You may react a certain way for the most part e.g. going to work, habits, mannerisms, relationships with folk - but then one day, something happens and everything can change in a split second - you don't know how to react or how to deal with it - so what you thought you knew, you no longer do.

Same goes with other people - the closest person in my world in my best friend who lives a long way away - we are unthinkably close at times and strangely know when something is wrong / good... weirdly so - and then I have another person whom I share similar feelings to...

I think those two people are whom I trust most in the world, the only people I trust implicitly not to let me down on purpose or for their gain....

but that's the crux of it, "knowing" someone (to me) is having that trust in someone that I can be myself, warts and all - so I believe I know them (albeit both from a great distance) in that they will not to try to hurt me in any way - so they have my trust. That doesn't mean that they couldn't hurt me but I believe they "know me" as much as they can, so they wouldn't do it intentionally. I believe I know my best friend more than anyone else does in the world - I'm very blessed to have her in my life.

There are a lot of people I thought I knew, including close family, when really, I didn't know them, or they reacted in a completely different way when the chips were down...

I don't think it's a sad a lonely feeling tho, as you do Dosed - yep, it can make you feel terrible when someone who you thought you knew, is not that person - but you cannot control other peoples thoughts and feelings and actions, so I don't believe there is any way to truly wholly "know" someone else.

Then again, sometimes you can think you know yourself, and yet, you act completely out of character and can end up questioning your whole being. Then, you're up the proverbial creek without a paddle. Eventually, it settles down and you get on with life and hopefully learn from the experience - or not, and repeat the same mistakes over. It can, at times like that, feel lonely and sad, but I think that's more to do with how you feel about yourself and knowing yourself, than anything to do with knowing another human being.

Maybe not try to "know" everything about someone else - because you surely never will - accept them for who you see them to be and what they are to you - their knowledge of themself is theirs - how they are with you and react to you - that's all that's important.

If you think you know someone - you expect/predict them to act / be a certain way - sometimes, unfortunately, but not surprisingly - your expectations will not be met. Expect only the best from yourself and just accept others as they are and what they wish to share with you. Enjoy life as much as possible with the only expectation that no-body is perfect.

There are many people in the world with whom to have friendship and feel love towards - accept them into your life and try to never take them for granted - you'll count your true friends probably on one hand or if you are very fortunate, on two hands. Be your best with them and if they see your worst too, and are still there for you, then you've made a good judgement on knowing that they are good in your life.

Real life versus not in real life - well, I have people who know me pretty well and whom I feel I know pretty well, love them too, yet I haven't met, but I believe in my judgement of them until I'm shown otherwise. Occasionally I find out I am oh so wrong - but that's life.

Know your inner self more than trying to know the inner self of others.


Yes. As in most other matters, perfection is unattainable. So if , "truly know" or "really know" means "perfectly know" then I suppose that no one can truly or really know another. Of course, that leaves wide open the question of what (even if we cannot achieve it) it would be perfectly to know another (or even oneself). If the answer to that is left perfectly vague, then that would be a good reason for thinking that question is perfectly unanswerable. Many philosophical question are unanswerable because they are too vague to answer, not for any other reason. And this question appears to be one of those. So, the first step to getting an answer would be to do a little tightening up of the question. An example: suppose I ask you the question, "What is it like (or truly like) to eat mashed potatoes?". I wonder what you would answer to that question. The trouble with that question is not that it asks for a profound philosophical reply. The trouble with that question is that, as the philosopher, J.L. Austin once put it, it commits the fallacy of asking about nothing in particular. It is simply too vague since it does not specify what sort of answer the questioner expects. Not because it is too deep to answer. I suspect that the question, "can you really (truly) ever know another person?"-or for that matter, "can you really (truly) ever know yourself?" suffers from committing the fallacy of asking about nothing in particular. In other words, it is too vague to be given anything but a deservedly vague (and unsatisfying) reply. I imagine that is why many questions called, "the perennial questions of philosophy" are so "perennial". They are perennially vague. (And, of course, the adverbs "truly" and "really" don't help. They exacerbate the vagueness). But it has to be admitted that for many people, the vaguer the question, and thus the more unanswerable it is, the more intriguing it becomes. It is almost as if they thought that confusion is a merit in philosophy.
Izzie
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 08:50 am
@kennethamy,
Oh, I don't know - I thought it was quite a good question actually.

Most people (I believe) go through life thinking they "know" other people - then something occurs that you didn't think was possible and all of a sudden you question yourself and your judgements, which can throw you into a spin.

"how on earth did I get that so wrong, I thought I knew him/her"

it is something you question, it's a reality, more for some people than others, depending on how much you place your trust in folk I suppose / or your naivety - whichever...

it really isn't at all vague when that question is in your head!

then you realise you had put an expectation on that person, not necessarily an expectation of perfection, it could be any simple reasonable expectation ... if they react in a way that is hurtful or just disagreeable to what you had predicted/expected, or you plain don't understand the actions/reactions - then the question of "can you ever really know another person?" flashes up in front of you.

As life goes on, I would say "no" - I don't think you can ever really know another person - you can know things about them, but you won't ever really be able to predict how someone is going to act, or how they feel or what they will do. With friends and those you love, you trust that their friendship and love will not be misplaced.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 09:02 am
@Izzie,
Izzie wrote:

Oh, I don't know - I thought it was quite a good question actually.

Most people (I believe) go through life thinking they "know" other people - then something occurs that you didn't think was possible and all of a sudden you question yourself and your judgements, which can throw you into a spin.

"how on earth did I get that so wrong, I thought I knew him/her"

it is something you question, it's a reality, more for some people than others, depending on how much you place your trust in folk I suppose / or your naivety - whichever...

it really isn't at all vague when that question is in your head!

then you realise you had put an expectation on that person, not necessarily an expectation of perfection, it could be any simple reasonable expectation ... if they react in a way that is hurtful or just disagreeable to what you had predicted/expected, or you plain don't understand the actions/reactions - then the question of "can you ever really know another person?" flashes up in front of you.

As life goes on, I would say "no" - I don't think you can ever really know another person - you can know things about them, but you won't ever really be able to predict how someone is going to act, or how they feel or what they will do. With friends and those you love, you trust that their friendship and love will not be misplaced.


I didn't say it was not a good question, whatever that comes to. I agree that it might stir up a lot of interesting discussion, and if that, by itself, makes it a good question then fine. It is. What I was saying is that it is too vague a question to expect to have any kind of definite or satisfying reply which most people can agree on. Perhaps you don't care about that kind of thing. Anyway, what a good question is, is another issue. And it certainly would have to do with what the purpose of a question is, since presumably, a good question would be one that satisfies the purpose of questions. But, as I just said, that is a different matter. However, your view of the purpose of questions, or, at least, the purpose of philosophical questions, I expect, is somewhat different from mine.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 09:10 am
@djjd62,
djjd62 wrote:

but observation isn't enough to "know someone", that's just identification, you can never know the true essence of a person, even if they could explain their thoughts or how they might react to anything that might happen to them, it would only be speculation until it happens

for instance, your instincts say, i would do anything to protect to my children, and you tell you tell someone this, so they say, i know how this person thinks or would react to this situation, then a situation arises and you find what you believed about yourself to be untrue, you no longer know yourself, and neither does the other person

if by some chance you could figure out every minute detail about yourself, and guarantee those findings were true, then, and only then could someone else know you if you shared those truths

going back to the observation idea, think about a magic show or someone like ted bundy, simple observation of the facts displayed is not enough


What kind of thing is "the essence of a person" which you say cannot be known? I need to know what that would be to think about whether what you say is right. Let alone "the true essence" of a person. But let's start with just "essence", and then we can work up from there.
msolga
 
  2  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 09:33 am
@kennethamy,
Quote:
What I was saying is that it is too vague a question to expect to have any kind of definite or satisfying reply which most people can agree on.


Yes, you're probably right about that, kennethamy. A definitive position (which all or most can agree on) may not be possible. However the process of discussion might assist an individual to clarify their own response to the question. And to some people it might well be a valid question.
aidan
 
  0  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 09:47 am
@kennethamy,
Quote:
What kind of thing is "the essence of a person" which you say cannot be known? I need to know what that would be to think about whether what you say is right. Let alone "the true essence" of a person. But let's start with just "essence", and then we can work up from there.


See, I think the 'essence' of a person is exactly what CAN be known. You may not know what they will DO in any situation, especially a situation that hasn't arisen for them before, but I think you can know them well enough to know what they'd tend to do or want to do or how they'd feel if they couldn't do what they had felt themselves called upon to do.

I don't think 'really' knowing someone means you know every little thing about them. I think it means that you are aware of who, overall, they are 'in reality'.

And if someone allows you to know them, unless you're not interested in learning, you can know them.

I know I know my mother. I know I do...and I know she knows me - the true essence of me.

And I think it is a 'good' or interesting question, because I find myself asking the same thing the original poster asked- how do people cope in the world when they feel that they don't or can't truly know anyone? Are you always looking over your shoulder?
And worse, how do people feel when they feel they aren't 'really' known by anyone else?
I should think that would feel very isolating.
0 Replies
 
kennethamy
 
  0  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 09:49 am
@msolga,
msolga wrote:

Quote:
What I was saying is that it is too vague a question to expect to have any kind of definite or satisfying reply which most people can agree on.


Yes, you're probably right about that, kennethamy. A definitive position (which all or most can agree on) may not be possible. However the process of discussion might assist an individual to clarify their own response to the question. And to some people it might well be a valid question.


Yes, it would be nice if we began with this vague question, and during the discussion, we tightened things up so that we might arrive at something that was answerable. That is the kind of thing Socrates would do in his dialogues, so that even if at the end we did not arrive at a definite answer, we at least could say that some progress had been made. And that often happened in the early dialogues of Plato. Unfortunately, that is not how thing usually happen on this forum. I won't speculate about the causes here. But instead, the discussion usually trails off into various irrelevancies only slightly (if at all) connected to the original post. Some of these question certainly have the potentiality of being what you call "valid questions", or what I would say are questions that admit of a sensible answer. But they nearly never end up that way. The trouble is that for some people, that is just what they think philosophy should be like. Vague questions with even vaguer answers. It is as if they think that the natural state of philosophical discussion is, free fall.
0 Replies
 
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 10:12 am
@fresco,
You can never predict a human female as they are all born with a state of the art random number generator that control their behaviors.
aidan
 
  0  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 10:14 am
@BillRM,
But can you know them? I don't think 'know' means ' able to predict'.
And I think the agreed upon definition of 'to know' is more to the point or crux of the matter than the agreed upon definition of 'really'.
kennethamy
 
  2  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 10:17 am
@aidan,
aidan wrote:

But can you know them? I don't think 'know' means 'predict'.


But if predictability is not the criterion of knowing another person, then what is? Anyone who denies that you can know another person should, I think, have some criterion in mind for what it would be to know another person. Otherwise, what would he be complaining about? What would he be saying we do not have which if we did have would be knowing another person?
aidan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 10:20 am
@kennethamy,
Know means to have knowledge of - you might know someone enough to know that they're unpredictable. Just because you can't predict what they'll do doesn't mean that you don't know them.
By saying that you know someone enough to predict what they'll do (if it's an unpredictable person) you could be proving that you don't 'know' them at all.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 10:22 am
@aidan,
aidan wrote:

Know means to have knowledge of - you might know someone enough to know that they're unpredictable. Just because you can't predict what they'll do doesn't mean that you don't know them.
By saying that you know someone enough to predict what they'll do (if it's an unpredictable person) you could be proving that you don't 'know' them at all.


O.K. So it isn't predictability. Not even predictable unpredictability. Then what is it?
aidan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jul, 2010 10:24 am
@kennethamy,
An accurately informed view.
0 Replies
 
 

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