Why do we have names?

  • Thread starter kyle_soule
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  • #1
kyle_soule
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I was just wondering the other day, why do we have names? Why are we not simply numbered? I know this is far from an original thought but I agree with the philosophy.

If one was simply a number we would have know way of associating a certain name with a position in the classes (middle, upper, lower). It, I think, would make progress in the destruction of classes, which I believe is a good thing.

Interesting, I thought, that we have names when more often than not we ARE just a number. Kind of like a illusion of significants I suppose.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Can you imagine the battle that would ensue to acquire 'Number One'. Boy, would that be a pissing contest. Are there any takers for "Number Two' out there.
 
  • #3
Ivan Seeking
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Originally posted by kyle_soule
I was just wondering the other day, why do we have names? Why are we not simply numbered? I know this is far from an original thought but I agree with the philosophy.

If one was simply a number we would have know way of associating a certain name with a position in the classes (middle, upper, lower). It, I think, would make progress in the destruction of classes, which I believe is a good thing.

Interesting, I thought, that we have names when more often than not we ARE just a number. Kind of like a illusion of significants I suppose.

A long tradition going back to the first differentiated ugh and egh.
 
  • #4
FZ+
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For the first million years of human existence, most people can't count over 1... let alone 6 billion whatever...
 
  • #5
kyle_soule
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Originally posted by FZ+
For the first million years of human existence, most people can't count over 1... let alone 6 billion whatever...

Do you have 6 billion acquaintances? It would simply be your SS# in place of your name.

Also, there would be no number one, because, as just said, it would be a 9 digit number. You also would not NAME yourself, that would do away with the point of numbering in the first place:smile:. There would be a 000-00-0000 and a 000-00-0001 but that would have no correlation to their position in society. Of course they may go around saying they are "Number 1" but nobody would care, just as if I went around saying I was number one because my name was "One".
 
  • #6
zoobyshoe
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I'm very confused. How can you
tell what class someone is from
by their name? Did the whole
world adopt the Indian Caste
system when I wasn't looking?
 
  • #7
kyle_soule
240
1
Originally posted by zoobyshoe
I'm very confused. How can you
tell what class someone is from
by their name? Did the whole
world adopt the Indian Caste
system when I wasn't looking?

On a large scale, such as the entire United States, you are unable to tell, the majority, by their names. On a local scale, however, you will find that by ones last name 'people' know how 'well-off' they are. You know the ones that are wealthy simply by their name, and their children are then put into a 'category' and often receive special treatment simply because of their name.

Let's use a simply example, sports. Let's say a certain name, X, is very well off in the town, and another family, Y, is not well off. X and Y both go out for basketball, regardless of their skills, child X will receive special treatment simply because his father is very wealthy. Child Y will, often times, not even be considered for the team. This is, of course, an example primarily directed towards local community, but the same system will apply for larger.

To answer your question, you will not destroy the actual classes, because as you implied, money has nothing to do with ones name; what you will eliminate, IMHO, is the perception of superiority DUE to ones name.

EDIT: Basically, I don't understand the reason for naming people. Perhaps someone could enlighten me as to why humans persist on naming things, ie. pets, cars, favorite items, etc.
 
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  • #8
Ivan Seeking
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You can always legally change your name. For example 470 [may I call you 470?], you could make your name a number.

Edit: I think your other answer is personification. We like to assign human qualities to inanimate objects. But why? Hmmm. Perhaps this results from parental instincts? For example, many people refer to things like their car, stereo, or surf board as “their baby”, “girl”, or “boy”. .
 
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  • #9
kyle_soule
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Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
You can always legally change your name. For example 470 [may I call you 470?], you could make your name a number.

A grand example indeed! 470 is sufficient in notifying the reader of the intended subject, kyle_soule is no more sufficient, simply over kill. There could also be a kyle_soul_e or a kylesoule, etc which could cause confusion!:smile: There will never be another 470 though.

Edit: I think your other answer is personification. We like to assign human qualities to inanimate objects. But why? Hmmm. Perhaps this results from parental instincts? For example, many people refer to things like their car, stereo, or surf board as “their baby”, “girl”, or “boy”. .

This certainly does seem to be the case, usually they assign the opposite gender to the object. I, a male, for example, would call my car my girl. Perhaps this has some sexual implications [ol' Freudian thinking?]. I think it is an interesting question nonetheless and I think it is worthy of discussion.
 
  • #10
i might be wrong but i think legally you can't use numbers in your name, you can be called 'one' but not '1'

i think that's the case, sorry 'four seventy' :smile:
 
  • #11
kyle_soule
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Originally posted by steppenwolf
i might be wrong but i think legally you can't use numbers in your name, you can be called 'one' but not '1'

i think that's the case, sorry 'four seventy' :smile:

Yes:smile: I know. Which in itself is a-whole-nother discussion, laws prohibiting the use of distinctive identification!?
 
  • #12
wuliheron
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Stephen Wolf has it right, you can't use numbers in your name, the social security office data base won't accept numbers. "What is so special about Harvard men, nothing."
Kurt Vonnegut Jr
 
  • #13
I have a hard enough time remembering names, names are easier to remember perhaps because we use words so frequently and in so many combinations that associations are more automatic rather than associations of numbers that hold no meaning except for what they are attached to unlike words except for mathematicians. There will always be inequality, the practice of looking up or down on others of lesser or greater social position is usually a trap for the practicioner and a way of detrimentally self inflating the ego to the point of Newton's arrogance or in seeking guidance and escaping the need for effort, both seem to be often used to escape effort.
 
  • #14
Ivan Seeking
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Originally posted by wuliheron
Stephen Wolf has it right, you can't use numbers in your name, the social security office data base won't accept numbers.

When it comes to numbers as names, there will always be those who are irrational!
 
  • #15
kyle_soule
240
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Originally posted by jammieg
I have a hard enough time remembering names, names are easier to remember perhaps because we use words so frequently and in so many combinations that associations are more automatic rather than associations of numbers that hold no meaning except for what they are attached to unlike words except for mathematicians.

It is common practice to use words for names, so naturally it would be hard to think of remembering so many numbers, but nicknames would be formed, such as an abreviated number, etc. Respect would be using the full number rather than Mr. or Mrs. Of course no transition could ever be achieved, as you point out, naming is too engraved in our mind, perhaps intrinsically?.

There will always be inequality, the practice of looking up or down on others of lesser or greater social position is usually a trap for the practicioner and a way of detrimentally self inflating the ego to the point of Newton's arrogance or in seeking guidance and escaping the need for effort, both seem to be often used to escape effort.

It would eliminate inequality do to ones name though. Simply because ones father had money and did well would no longer be reason to think of the son as better.
 
  • #16
wuliheron
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Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
When it comes to numbers as names, there will always be those who are irrational!

I'm sure if anyone wants to they can name their kid, "Irrational Number." The reason why people traditionally have names rather than numbers is that our names originally reflected something about who we were and where we lived. Thus, you knew automatically that Rob Brooks referred to the robber who lived by the brook. Much easier to keep up with conceptually than mere numbers and much more descriptive.
 
  • #17
Ivan Seeking
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Originally posted by wuliheron
I'm sure if anyone wants to they can name their kid, "Irrational Number." The reason why people traditionally have names rather than numbers is that our names originally reflected something about who we were and where we lived. Thus, you knew automatically that Rob Brooks referred to the robber who lived by the brook. Much easier to keep up with conceptually than mere numbers and much more descriptive.

So if we were to exchange names for numbers, we could as well do the whole language. I vote for ASCII!

081 069 068.
 
  • #18
kyle_soule
240
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Originally posted by wuliheron
I'm sure if anyone wants to they can name their kid, "Irrational Number." The reason why people traditionally have names rather than numbers is that our names originally reflected something about who we were and where we lived. Thus, you knew automatically that Rob Brooks referred to the robber who lived by the brook. Much easier to keep up with conceptually than mere numbers and much more descriptive.

I don't know how accurate this is. In your example it would mean that Rob was named Rob after he became a robber, what was his name when he simply lived by the brook? Rob could have been the SON of the robber who lived by the brook, which supports my reasoning, why should Rob be chastised for being the SON of a robber? If his father was 135124674 and his name was 126432845 nobody would make the connection between Rob and his thieving father:smile:.
 
  • #19
wuliheron
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Originally posted by kyle_soule
I don't know how accurate this is. In your example it would mean that Rob was named Rob after he became a robber, what was his name when he simply lived by the brook? Rob could have been the SON of the robber who lived by the brook, which supports my reasoning, why should Rob be chastised for being the SON of a robber? If his father was 135124674 and his name was 126432845 nobody would make the connection between Rob and his thieving father:smile:.

People to this day change names all the time and have nic names. Everyone but my mother calls me Wu Li, but that is not my given name. Having more than one name is common as well.

Robinson means literally, "son of rob". Many prefixes and suffixes of names mean the same thing. That's also why Junior can be used as both a name and a suffix. Similarly, people in the past have often associated the crimes of one member of a family with all the others. Familly businesses were the norm including criminal ones.

There is an old joke about native american names. A son asks his father how he decided to name his kids. The father says he named them all after the first thing he saw when they were born. Then he asked his son, "But tell me two dogs f**king, why do you ask?"

If our names were just numbers, the range of jokes would be severely limited.
 
  • #20
What do we do about nicknames? If a persons name begins with a One, could we give that person the nickname Point Five.
 
  • #21
Sonty
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My personal numerical code is 1820908340445. All the people in my country have such numbers. I guess that's my name as far as the authorities are concerned. The first 1 says I'm a male, the next 6 tell my date of birth and I have no idea what the other 6 mean. It's pretty hard to remember such a number, don't you think? The good thing is that everyone would have to know my birthday. Lucky for me I'm a guy. I don't care about everyone knowing my age. Besides being hard to remember it's also long and it takes a lot of time to pronounce so we would all have stronger tongue muscles. that's why we use this sort of DNS (domain name service) of names. So the same as one can buy a domain name like say idiot.com and make a lot of machine names like www.idiot.com,[/URL] mail.idiot.com, crazymoron.idiot.com, etc. so do we use Jim Smith.
 
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  • #22
names

Sonty, since there's no way in Hell I can remember your full numeric name, may I refer to you by nickname. How about Point-five, One-Half, or the more formal One-Point-Eight-Two-Times-Ten-to-the- Twelfth.
 
  • #23
Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
When it comes to numbers as names, there will always be those who are irrational!

...

haha! i get it, oh the frivolity
 
  • #24
Tsu
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Originally posted by wuliheron
I'm sure if anyone wants to they can name their kid, "Irrational Number." The reason why people traditionally have names rather than numbers is that our names originally reflected something about who we were and where we lived. Thus, you knew automatically that Rob Brooks referred to the robber who lived by the brook. Much easier to keep up with conceptually than mere numbers and much more descriptive.

I always thought that this system was last name only. Like Miller (works in a mill), Baker (enuf said), Kaufman (merchant-or something like it), etc. First names were given to honor a family ancestor. No?
 
  • #25
wuliheron
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Originally posted by Tsunami
I always thought that this system was last name only. Like Miller (works in a mill), Baker (enuf said), Kaufman (merchant-or something like it), etc. First names were given to honor a family ancestor. No?

It varies quite a bit and changes over time. What remains the same is that the names are always more or less descriptive of the individual. For example, I live on a commune and just about everyone I've ever know who lives on a commune has a unique nic name they adopt. Having twelve Davids just doesn't cut it, but we are small enough that we also don't have to learn everyone's full name. However, all of our nic names still say something about us as individuals.
 
  • #26
Chemicalsuperfreak
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Originally posted by zoobyshoe
I'm very confused. How can you
tell what class someone is from
by their name? Did the whole
world adopt the Indian Caste
system when I wasn't looking?

A recent study looked into racism in the workplace. They sent identical resumes to various jobs with the only difference being the names. It was found that black sounding names such as LaWanda Jenkins or Tyrone Freeman received far fewer call backs that identical resumes with white sounding names.
 
  • #27
kyle_soule
240
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Originally posted by Chemicalsuperfreak
A recent study looked into racism in the workplace. They sent identical resumes to various jobs with the only difference being the names. It was found that black sounding names such as LaWanda Jenkins or Tyrone Freeman received far fewer call backs that identical resumes with white sounding names.

Interesting. Not surprising.

Would you happen to have a link for the study?
 
  • #28
Mentat
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I can't believe that no one has touched on the point of family lines (though they might have, I kind of skimmed a few of the posts). A person's family connections are very important, not just because they limit the amount of people you can invite the the family reunion, but they also limit the amount of people you can marry (no, I don't mean the "amount of people you can marry", I mean the amount of people in the world that are available to you as a potential spouse).
 
  • #29
Mentat
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I should probably complete my thought. You see, people haven't always had last names, so the family line point didn't really apply (people just added the "son of John, the third Earl of Warwick" to the end of their name, and called it good). However, the first name is now useful to further limit the person that you are talking about (if I just gave you the last name, I would have limited it to a certain few families, but if I give you the first name I will limit it to a precious few (hopefully, unless it's something like "John Smith")).
 
  • #30
Steppenwolf, I find this subject inane and disturbing. Disturbing in that a numeric name dehumanizes the individual. It provides the individual with no clue to his/her family's past. It leaves the individual with nothing. The Jews thrown into Nazi concentration camps can attest to this with their tatooed forearms. Now consider being at a social gathering, where you have to introduce six people to six other people all with nine digit numeric names. Or in a court room setting involving numerous witness for both the defense and prosecution. Or a classroom where the teacher poses a question to five different kids. Is this sounding more and more like a Marx Brothers movie to you. Numeric identification works fine when it's used for individual accounts or for keeping vital statistics on an individual, and that's about it.
 
  • #31
I agree. First it is dehumanizing. I think it's a horrible idea.

Also, I could never ever learn people's names if they were numbers. As it is, the only way I can call people is to get the number out of my cell phone. That's just a 7 digit phone number the first 3 digits which I already know.

By the way, you REALLY should read the book We by Zamyatin. I think you would find it very relevent.
 
  • #32
kyle_soule
240
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Originally posted by Mentat
I should probably complete my thought. You see, people haven't always had last names, so the family line point didn't really apply (people just added the "son of John, the third Earl of Warwick" to the end of their name, and called it good). However, the first name is now useful to further limit the person that you are talking about (if I just gave you the last name, I would have limited it to a certain few families, but if I give you the first name I will limit it to a precious few (hopefully, unless it's something like "John Smith")).

This only applies when you share the same last name, which many family members do not. It would require either local government or Federal Government involvement much more, perhaps. When I go to a family dinner I don't need to know peoples names, if I see someone from that family dinner on the street I would not make a pass at them. I don't think this really applies, one would simply have to have local government verify they are not related if they were to marry. The same thing would apply if I was to try to marry my second cousin; I would not know they were my cousin if their last name was Pritchard and mine is Soule. Also, I am not related to any of the numerous Soule's in my home-town. Basically, last names are not an accurate way to figure out marriage potentials. There are under 100 people from the billions, chances are you aren't going to run into one of them to marry even if your name was a numerical value.

Again, if we were to have 9 digit names they could be shortened. If your name was 231-45-6184, in class, for example, the teacher would call you by 231, or something of the sort. If this was the system we would have no problem memorizing many different names just as we have no problem with names now.
 
  • #33
Honestly, this idea is really starting to frighten me. Why on Earth do you want the government to control so much?

When I have a child I look forward to giving him a name. For example, I am the IV. I have my father's name and his father before him and his father before him. I enjoy this fact. On the other hand, we aren't rich, we aren’t politicians, royalty, etc. I'm not using my name to put down people. I simply like that I can trace my name directly back for three generations. When I have a son, I look forward to deciding what I'm going to name him. I'm not sure right now, but it's a privilege that I'm glad I have.
 
  • #34
Integral
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I do not see how this number for name idea would accomplish the intended end. I can here it now, "OH, those 10,000s think they are sooo.. good. They are no better then the 9000s just an extra digit. What differnce does that make?"

Snobbery, after all, is in human nature, not in what you are named. Simply exchanging numbers for names will change nothing, and will add the difficulties mentioned by many.


Guess, if the numering were done right, it would be easier to recognize an irrational person. "Watch out for PI he is always going in circles!"
 
  • #35
kyle_soule
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Originally posted by Integral
I do not see how this number for name idea would accomplish the intended end. I can here it now, "OH, those 10,000s think they are sooo.. good. They are no better then the 9000s just an extra digit. What differnce does that make?"

I suppose people could say that, but why? the 10,000 would be a group of people spread throughout the world, no generalization could possibly be made that extends past 1 or 2 individuals.
 

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