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Why do we have names?

  1. Aug 30, 2003 #1
    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.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 30, 2003 #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.
  4. Aug 30, 2003 #3

    Ivan Seeking

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    A long tradition going back to the first differentiated ugh and egh.
  5. Aug 30, 2003 #4


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    For the first million years of human existence, most people can't count over 1... let alone 6 billion whatever...
  6. Aug 30, 2003 #5
    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".
  7. Aug 30, 2003 #6
    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?
  8. Aug 30, 2003 #7
    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 recieve 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 recieve 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.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2003
  9. Aug 30, 2003 #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”. .
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2003
  10. Aug 30, 2003 #9
    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.

    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.
  11. Aug 30, 2003 #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:
  12. Aug 30, 2003 #11
    Yes:smile: I know. Which in itself is a-whole-nother discussion, laws prohibiting the use of distinctive identification!?
  13. Aug 30, 2003 #12
    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
  14. Aug 31, 2003 #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.
  15. Aug 31, 2003 #14

    Ivan Seeking

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    When it comes to numbers as names, there will always be those who are irrational!
  16. Aug 31, 2003 #15
    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?.

    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.
  17. Aug 31, 2003 #16
    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.
  18. Aug 31, 2003 #17

    Ivan Seeking

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

    081 069 068.
  19. Aug 31, 2003 #18
    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:.
  20. Aug 31, 2003 #19
    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.
  21. Aug 31, 2003 #20
    What do we do about nicknames? If a persons name begins with a One, could we give that person the nickname Point Five.
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