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Are people defined by their actions?

  1. Sep 20, 2005 #1
    What would you consider makes a person who they are? Their actions? Or some more internal sense of 'self'? Or something else?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 21, 2005 #2
    I think that what makes someone what they are, in other words, what gives them their identity, is their mind. What (and if!)someone thinks is the most important part of that person. Actions just show what someone is thinking.
  4. Sep 22, 2005 #3
    You are talking about two different concepts, both important, and you are trying to choose which one to assign the term 'person' to.

    One of these concepts, the body which acts, is important in our daily lives. We must deal with "persons" of this kind in order to get on with living.

    The other one, the thinker, is important to anyone who thinks.

    Rather than choose one arbitrarily, how about adopting a convention where we capitalize any word which refers to the thinker and use lower case for any word which refers to the physical body?

    That way, the Person is the thinker, but the person is the actor. Similarly, i am typing this response at the moment, but I gave it a little thought before i did.

  5. Sep 22, 2005 #4
    The interaction of genetics + environment makes each person "who and what they are".
  6. Sep 22, 2005 #5
    I would say actions thoughts both play strong roles though really you could probably simplify this to just thoughts considering that almost all actions originate in thought. One way or another intentions are incredibly important to actions and you lose them if you only regard the actions and not their origins.
  7. Sep 23, 2005 #6
    if you made no actions at all, you would still learn by others' actions & your inputs. look at someone disabled from birth, there is more to them & their personality than their actions
  8. Sep 26, 2005 #7
    I hope not. "The road to hell is paved with good intentions"... i hate that quote... cause basically its saying that no matter how you felt or wanted or though, you do something wicked and go to hell, no matter if your thoughts were well intended and pure...

    i think people are "defined" already, and our actions are just the reflection of our inner workings interacting with the world around us.
  9. Sep 27, 2005 #8
    I think a person becomes a whole from a couple of things. Each persons DNA has some very strict programming. It does not entirely define a person, but it is kind of like the framework for a building. Once the person is exposed to an environment they begin to learn the environments values.

    There is a lot of controversy regarding how much impact an environment has on a person. Some people seem to think everything about a person derives from an environment. I find this hard to believe due to the fact that different people under the same circumstances make different decisions. However I could be wrong. People make decisions based on past experiences. If there is not past experience to relate to, all the person can do is guess. Different thought processes will occur between different people because each person has a unique perspective on the environment. They might all see the same objects, but each person will have thier own feelings and ideas about the environment.

    I would say environmental programming defines a person more than DNA. DNA however holds pieces to the big puzzle. It defines who has the most potential to become an alcoholic for instance. Despite the fact that DNA might indicate this, it does not guarantee a persons character will not overcome this.

    What truly defines a person is their ability to show strength beyond what has been forced upon them.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2005
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