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Person is a person through other persons

  1. Apr 27, 2006 #1
    This statement above was the critical lens for english regents some years ago. We're doing regents prep, and so my teacher asked "what do you think it means" Nobody ever participates, and just to don't spoil teacher's day, I rose my hand. I lied. I didn't say what I think but what I heard from another teacher a couple of months ago. Actually no, I lied only partially. Maybe I think the same way? Just to explain the statement, I began with the question to whole class, "What makes you, you?" I continued, "Everyone is defined by his/her unique personality. Personality is part of yourself, and without it you'd be nobody. Just to make it easier, we may derive the statement, "Personality is a personality through other personalities." Now since, almost every object passing through something is modified by the object passed through, the statement would actually mean, "Our personality is modified or influenced by other personalities" or the way we are is shaped upon the way others are." Is it really true? That people's personality is influenced by the surrounding? But what about the people who don't have friends, and live the way they want to, not the way friends want to? Is their personality still influenced by other people? I don't know.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 29, 2006 #2
    i see what you mean, but i dont think thats what the statement is referring to. i believe that statement refers to a person's meaning, not a person's volatility to his surroundings. a person has meaning to himself, a person has meaning to other persons, and a person has meaning to the universe as a volatile system. by nature, a person has no meaning to himself/herself unless he/she has meaning to another person. also by nature, our meaning to the universe as a pile of organic matter just doesn't feel significant to us to see ourselves as a person. by nature, a person would feel significant if someone, somewhere believes that he/she is. basically, you aren't a person unless you know someone believes you are - in more of a philosphical sense than a physical sense. its just an image we create in our minds, by nature.

    hope that helps...
  4. Apr 30, 2006 #3
    Very good explanation projectmayhem, do you mind if I quote you in my essay?

    Actually it would be easier to write an essay (which has to be based on 2 books) based on explanation stated by me. It's pretty easy to write paragraphs how character's friends had influenced him than how he's a person just because others notice him as a person. Anyway, do you have any ideas how can I prove the explanation given by you with 2 books?

    By the way, welcome to PF!
  5. May 1, 2006 #4
    Wow, I've been just arguing with my english teacher in the middle of the class for 30 minutes. I can hardly remember full conversation but I'll just give you a notion of it. I tried to defend your explanation but finally was defeated. She asked again for valid explanation of the statement, I raised my hand, spoke for 5 minutes and classmates came to the conclusion that they have no idea what I'm talking about. I was invited to the middle of the class and to speak again. From then on, I've spoken several times because not a person including a teacher could understand that "You're a person because other see you as a person." I said, :I had a conversation on forum and then did a google search.. blablabla...." "and The Archbishop didn't mean by this statement that our personality is influenced by others, but that our personality is because others think of it." "You have values because other people recognize your values" Then my teacher responded, "It's right.... blablabla, but I don't agree with your explanation, I don't need anyone to tell me who I am. I have some qualities that cannot be noticed by others although they are in me." I asked, "Can you give some examples of this unnoticed qualities" She, "What do you mean?"
    I asked again without hearing the answer, again. But she said, Almost all people believed that Newton was wrong with the theory of gravity, but he knew his right and he didn't need anybody to tell him it's right.... whatever." In this case I may as well agree with her, if the humans' values were given to you with the day of creation, then you don't need anyone to tell you who you are. You don't need anyone to point out flows and highs in personality becaue with time you'll start noticing what's wrong yourself. What do you think?
  6. May 1, 2006 #5


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    Suppose a hermit lives in an oasis in the middle of the desert and has not seen another person for 20 years. Are you asserting either that he is NOT a person or that he has no personality?
  7. May 1, 2006 #6


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    If you think how we become persons, that is, how we pass from being infants to say, five year old children (I think they are persons, indeed I think two year olds are persons, though some might argue), then it is clear that this process critically requires access to other persons. For one thing, you can't learn a language without hearing it, or if you are deaf seeing it signed. I always come back to the case of Helen Keller here, for she was the extreme case that tests the theory. Isolated by her sensory deficits until her governess succeeded in reaching her, she blossomed once that happened.
  8. May 1, 2006 #7
    hrmmm to be know as a person others must see u as a person... to have morals religions, ideas, concepts, they must be labled as so by other people, with out other people these things have no purpose... or maybe im just not thinking str8
  9. May 1, 2006 #8
    JenadaeX, you're right on the button. These things are, no offense to anyone, meaningless unless someone can acknowledge or refute it. heartless, when your teacher was talking about people having thought Newton was wrong, it's not because he needed someone to tell him he was right. He needed someone to tell him "something". You are a person because you can state an opinion. Did you feel like a person when your teacher said you were incorrect? Probably. Would you have felt like a person if you stood up and walked to the front of the room but no one would have allowed you to speak? Doubt it. In that situation, I would think,"They're treating me like an animal." If a person's needs and opinions are not cared for by anyone, the person's self-image fades. If your teacher made a statement and you blurted out that no one cares, she would look at you funny, and then you could ask her if she feels like a person now. It's all about "image".

    Oh, thanks for the welcome :)
  10. May 1, 2006 #9
    In my view, this is just a little subset of much higher interpretation of a "person". She felt like a person while speaking with me, but she learned to speak and argue from others. It's one example but of an influence on another's mind. She feels like a person because she lives in a society of persons which share common traits. Person is a person though other persons, I am who I am because of others, - influence. It's also true that you can be person to yourself, but to be the person to the world, you need to have a part in other people who would recognize you and treat you like a person. Since the author of the statemant was as far as I know African, he could as well refer to His people and how are they treated by others, like animals and possessions. He could say that they won't be persons as long as other people won't recognize them as persons, of course they would be persons to themselves, but we're one world therefore person to all other persons. On the other hand, it doesn't cover aspects of one's personality, because like she said, you don't need anyone to tell you that you're nice or strong, with time you'll start having a notion f it yourself.
  11. May 1, 2006 #10
    Now that you put it that way, yes. The image is made from influences. But if you do cut off all sources of influence, meaning a person in a room with no outside contact that never sees anyone or hears anyone yet has nutrition and necessary facilities, the person would have no image. The person would revert to his/her instincts and nothing more once the person lost hope.

    Also, what about yourself would you know if you couldn't compare to anyone? How would you know you are right or wrong about anything?
    Last edited: May 1, 2006
  12. May 1, 2006 #11
    Therefore influence as well as recognition both play significant roles in existance of a 'person'.
  13. May 17, 2006 #12
    The hell is other people.
    by Sartre
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