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Martha Q
11-08-2005, 11:18 PM
sartre used to say that a man is what he does......his true self is dictated by his actions...and not only his but by acting for himself he acts for the whole of humanity....
is a man defined by his actions? i think not....you?

ThatIndividual
11-08-2005, 11:20 PM
Why, I think so... By what other measure can we define him?

What luck! I see that you are currently online... I shall go to the kitchen and fix myself a drink, and when I reture, perhaps I will find here your answer. I do look forward to turning this one on all sides. Very interesting topic, and I couldn't be more thrilled since you take the stance opposite mine, (and M. Sartre's)

Martha Q
11-08-2005, 11:25 PM
there is so much more......behind an action there are circumstances, thought, culture......so much more happens in ones mind before actions.....and mostly thought and action don't combine........so complicated to explain myself...is it making sense to u?

ThatIndividual
11-08-2005, 11:29 PM
so is man undefinable? My question for you remains, if we can not look to a man's actions to define him, how do we do so? Must we not?

After consideration of this, next consider the question of freedom, as I can see that that is going to be quite relevant to our discourse. Is man free? If so, how free is he? If not, by what is he restricted?

ahhh....must also add this.. You say that thoughts and actions don't combine. By combine, I wonder, do you mean agree ? Do you mean to say that man is self-contradictory, or...? I think I understand what you mean, but I could be entirely mistaken.

Martha Q
11-08-2005, 11:42 PM
i'm extreme......i believe that man musn't define and can't be defined.....there is just too much....i give no solution
as to the very light question (remind u its 11 .35 in themorning here) on freedom....well...my romantic side tells me that nietzsche went mad because he found freedom by completely unmasking himself....long process most probably since he used to say that a person has more layers and masks that he himself could ever imagine......
freedom always concerns the complete aknowledgement of something......like man has no purpose...ha! clichee.....is freedom possible and how? still not able to answer......... if only i was religious...could be early hegel , kierkegaard.....what would u say?

of course man is self-contradictory...thats what makes us so interesting...

ThatIndividual
11-09-2005, 12:11 AM
Your discourse intersts me immensely. You cite all of the philosophers that I love the most. I am totally in agreement that man is undefinable. That's true. However, I believe still, that man defines himself. Not through words though. And we could not relay, one to another, what the definition of any certain man would be. His definition (for lack of a better term) comes about only through his actions, through the choices he makes. So I side with you, and it seems, I side with Sartre. (I suppose what that means is, in true existentialist fashion, I side only with myself. :D )

So therefore, no solution is the only solution. Absurd! Yes, I know. I believe the appropriate face, as chosen from the immediate right on my screen, is thus: :lol: :lol: :lol: The absurd, existential laughter. God bless Soren Kierkegaard.

As far as freedom is concerned, while we're being honest, I suppose I don't know either. I'm not accustomed to honest philosophical debate. Usually, one person states, quite adamantly too, their stance on the given matter. They argue until they're blue in the face. Indeed, they know. They are right. Naturally, I choose my favorite stance and argue for the sake of, well, arguing. But to be perfectly honest, since that's the mood that you have set in our debate, I don't know either. No one knows, I guess...

However, I'm rarely ever in agreement with Sartre on his quite extreme view of absolute human freedom. Hardly ever. Just as rarely though, do I agree with the hard determinist who wishes to explain away metaphysical freedom all together. Hardly ever. So what is my usual stance on the matter? I don't know. I suppose I try not to define (define, there's that word again!) my view with too much rigidity. As soon as I do so, everything that constitutes its being escapes and I'm left with... well...
nothing.

:lol: :lol: :lol:

Martha Q, Madame, your presence is very much welcomed here in our philosophical literature thread, at least by yours truly.

Martha Q
11-09-2005, 12:30 AM
define ourselves?what a burden.....ha!
remember hegel...what we think of ourselves never combines with what other peolple think let alone what really is.....obviously we are discussing if what really is truly exists....but thinking about it....the only type of definition we have of ourselves is given to us by others ....... our existence depends o n the existence of others...no conclusions i'm just thinking "out loud"....

merci beaucoup.....appreciation much appreciated.....and corresponded...

ThatIndividual
11-09-2005, 12:41 AM
But can one really have a definition of oneself? Is the definition itself a foreign object to oneself, or is the definition itself, quite simple, what the self is . Aren't you the only real and accurate definition of what you are, just as I must be the only definition of me? Seems like any definition that others may offer could only be offered in words, and we both know what that leaves us with... words. words words words. Words aren't you or me, they're just words. what do you think?

I fear that I must go ahead and retire for the evening if I desire to be fresh tomorrow. It is nearing midnight in my section of the globe. I shall be very eager to read your response on the morrow, and I do hope you have a lovely afternoon.

Most respectfully, I bid you,

Adieu.

Martha Q
11-09-2005, 03:13 AM
wow, i love just discussing..even thinking out loud with someone else without having to weigh words so delicately.......have to think about it.....cup of tea and notepad this afternoon then i'll give u my answer.................for now it has been a pleasure......
a prestissimo

Psycheinaboat
11-09-2005, 12:22 PM
I have enjoyed this thread immensely. I have wanted to join in, but I feel I am too old. Back in college I loved debates/discussions like this. We could go on for hours about topics that really have no definitive answers. Topics like the true nature of good and evil, and if man could ever truly be either. We discussed freewill until I was sick.

As I have aged, I am more at ease with the fact that we can never know some things for certain, and it seems my patience with such unanswerable questions has thinned out.

I think one of the beautiful things about philosophy is that you never have to come to a conclusion; it is the search that matters.

Martha Q
11-09-2005, 12:37 PM
well said.........i guess philosophy is more about the questions than the answers...

ThatIndividual
11-09-2005, 03:45 PM
Indeed, I agree with the both of you. Furthermore, (and this is what is so humerous about the entire thing) I suspect that if I ever were to come up with a definitive "answer" to one of these questions, I would be horrified by the boredom that would most surely ensue. The search is all that is, and for that I am truly thankful.

By the way, Psyche, please do join in if you feel so inclined. I, for one, welcome, and would even thank you for, any input.

Psycheinaboat
11-09-2005, 03:53 PM
With age I have grown mundane. How to make the diaper hamper less stinky is the most pressing life question I most often face. :)

And besides that, I have forgotten so much of what I learned in philosophy classes... but I will probably join in from time to time.

I do not mean to sound like such as old grouch, it is actually very important to me that I never stop learning and never stop questioning, and that would be my advice to anyone.

starrwriter
11-09-2005, 04:24 PM
sartre used to say that a man is what he does......his true self is dictated by his actions...and not only his but by acting for himself he acts for the whole of humanity....is a man defined by his actions? i think not....you?
I think so because a man's actions are the result of the choices he makes. And character is fate since choice is a matter of character.

XXdarkclarityXX
11-09-2005, 08:26 PM
I must disagree. A man's actions are the result of the society and circumstances which he is a part of, not his choices. A homeless person's primary action is not to pursue morality, but to persue the next meal or dollar on the ground. If it means stealing, that may not be his character or his choice, but it is his actions.

ThatIndividual
11-09-2005, 08:29 PM
Indeed, that's the truth. We're influenced more than we realized. Perhaps even compelled. But are we not then defined by those actions? (I don't mean defined by others.... I don't mean defined by words... I mean, don't our actions make us what we are?)

starrwriter
11-09-2005, 10:14 PM
I must disagree. A man's actions are the result of the society and circumstances which he is a part of, not his choices.
Our faults are not in our circumstances, but in us.
--Willie Shakespeare

bugmasta
11-10-2005, 12:44 AM
I donít think it makes any difference weather or not a manís actions are influenced by his environment. His actions define him. His environment influences the man himself. His environment has an effect on his development and what he becomes. Therefore, if he commits an action as a result of his environment, his environment has effected the definition of the man in a way that caused the manís action. To use darkclarityís example of a homeless man, a homeless man who does not believe theft is right and commits theft to feed him or his family is still a thief. Regardless of his environment, his actions still define him.

Martha Q
11-10-2005, 01:29 AM
but man is so much more.....we limit him in so many ways by saying that he is his actions.....maybe we simply cannot define man....most actions are just a superficial manifestation of ones own existence......but existing is more than "acting", its whys and hows......there has to be more in the pre than in the action itself....

subterranean
11-10-2005, 08:12 PM
The thread brings me back the memories of attending the Sociology Theory class which was held every Friday morning, from 8 to 10 am, and I was not even a Sociology student.

smilingtearz
11-15-2005, 12:34 PM
there is so much more......behind an action there are circumstances, thought, culture......so much more happens in ones mind before actions.....and mostly thought and action don't combine........so complicated to explain myself...is it making sense to u?

The question u asked was an intriguing one...but what u later replied to ThatIndividual...which is quoted here...is exactly where i find an answer...u see Man has lot of limitations while dciding to act in a particular way...but these limitations only lessen the number of choices he has...they don't finish the choices altogether...u can always chose to do something..
right or wrong
sane or insane
sensible or insensible
required or unrequired
and if yet you think that before doing a thing you don't have a choice...think again...u can always chose to do a thing or not do it...
what actually defines a person is the way he "choses" to act.

DTrent
11-15-2005, 03:31 PM
I think a man is what he says, does & is.
Look at his way of life. Look at what he talks about. His word should be his bond...

Themis
11-15-2005, 08:11 PM
I think a man is defined only by his actions. After all, it's the only thing we can actually see. His thoughts are his own, so we can do nothing about them.
Circumstance don't define men. One man who grows up in a slum may become a murderer and another a police man, for example. It's always up to that particular man what he makes of himself.

Martha Q
11-15-2005, 08:37 PM
so themis you are saying that a man is defined by the people that surround him based on what they see?

Union Jack
11-15-2005, 10:49 PM
To ask by what a man is defined, one must first clarify who is doing the defining...

Themis
11-16-2005, 08:28 AM
so themis you are saying that a man is defined by the people that surround him based on what they see?


Eventually, yes.

@Union Jack: The legal system probably.

Outlander
11-16-2005, 09:07 AM
Floating around are bits and pieces of exchanged thoughts staying primarily in the realm of outside influences - what about interior?

Originally posted by: Themis
One man who grows up in a slum may become a murderer and another a police man, for example. It's always up to that particular man what he makes of himself.
Not so.

I speak to you as one of the Intelluctually chalanged :p
Not everyone is born with the ability to learn and retain at the same level.
When you look at the Murder / Policeman Example. I see problems with that.

The murderer may have struggled with school, friends, acceptance
- not only creating but also perpetuating low self esteem.
A personality formed at such a young age is almost impossible to alter.
(drugs - from doctors and dealers, are bound to happen)

The Policeman- Thats a job that takes confidence. Most likely, one who is a policeman was popular in school, had good grades and developed a more positive outlook towards life.

I'm not saying all with less cooperative synapses are going to turn into murders. It just makes it a bit more likely - Lesser brain function created an unhappy individual, so he strikes out at humanity.

Also I'm not saying that all with higher functioning brains will go onto higher education and live wealthy and fulfilling lives.

I know of a woman with a frightningly quick mind, who has worked the cashregister at the salvation army for over ten years now.
(she has an unusal look about her, never made friends as a child, never developed confidence, so also never developed ambition)

* so it seem Physical apperance also plays into what would drive a person to do something with life.

So saying:
It's always up to that particular man what he makes of himself

Is a very narrow minded view of what compels a persons actions.

We were not all delt the same hand.
We were not all born into neuturing familys
We were not all born into wealthy familys
We were not all born with minds capable of obtaining Scholarships
We were not all born with equal physical beauty (makes a difference)

We were not all born with the same options before us.

Look to the past to understand the actions of today.

Themis
11-16-2005, 10:41 AM
So saying:
It's always up to that particular man what he makes of himself

Is a very narrow minded view of what compels a persons actions.


Why thank you! I never thought of myself as "narrow minded".

Scheherazade
11-16-2005, 10:49 AM
Please do not personalise your comments; it is the ideas that we discuss, not the people.

Outlander
11-16-2005, 10:51 AM
oh - Nevermind

I just found the use of the word "always" to imply,
that all are dealt an equal hand.
I found it personaly offensive.

An implication that all those who have not obtained some high status in life have only somehow "Failed".

Forgive the offense of my use of the words "Narrow minded".
None was intended. - "Limited view", may have been more appropriate.

As I'm sure your implication of "Always" -an absolute-
was also an unintended offense.

Peace

Countess
11-16-2005, 11:08 AM
>is a man defined by his actions?

The first question is who is doing the defining? If it is God, he sees all and can define a man based on everything that comprises him. (God sees the heart.)

If it is man, then we must regress to a subjective evaluation, that is, each person has their own set of standards/rules/beliefs, and each individual looks upon another individual through those standards/rules/beliefs. We are fundamentally unable to take off our perspective glasses; ie: we cannot see clearly anyone.

>sartre used to say that a man is what he does

Batman said this recently too. (--: The premise of Sartre's statement, I believe, is the presupposition that man acts in accordance with himself at all times under all conditions. This is simply not true, in my estimation. Man is a layered creature with various components:physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, psychological, social, ethical, etc.

With so many aspects to his personality, there is bound to be conflict between levels and between components. This is why I always say "Everyone is a hypocrite to a greater or lesser extent."

You are who you are; your behavior is simply a manifestation of some core component in your personality.

For example, there are many people in society who act altruisitcally but for the wrong reasons. A wealthy man may donate a large sum of money to a charity, but the reason behind the donation may have nothing to do with his good-will and everything to do with his status in the community, or support for his own endeavors. Do you consider him a "good man"? I do not. It is called marketing - he is a skilled businessman with good salesmanship skills, but internally he thinks only of himself.

So, he is a hypocrite to a great extent.

Countess

Themis
11-16-2005, 11:18 AM
As I'm sure your implication of "Always" -an absolute-
was also an unintended offense.


:confused: How did I manage to offend you by using the word "always"? I merely stated my opinion.
Still, I'll try to use another word.

Outlander
11-16-2005, 11:30 AM
If we go over this here we'll be highjacking the thred.
PM on it's way.

Bmblbee
11-20-2005, 10:49 PM
Definition implies separation, and so, if a man externalizes his thoughts and feelings, he is indeed separated from some and conjoined with others and thus defined. On a deeper level, our thoughts separate our shadow from our persona, and so at times we are divided even from ourselves. Perhaps the best short I can offer on this is "Borges on Borges."

rachel
01-07-2006, 06:41 PM
Because we all do so many strange and irrational things over the course of our lives, things that come from fatigue or hurt or pain or hunger...
I don't believe a person is defined actually by what he/she does.
I do believe however a person is known by the things he or she does.

fzeko
01-07-2006, 08:09 PM
very interesting discussion guys but are we allowed to contribute to elaboration of the question or is this primary a discussion between you too?

Logos
01-07-2006, 08:11 PM
very interesting discussion guys but are we allowed to contribute to elaboration of the question or is this primary a discussion between you too?

Welcome to the forums :)

Feel free to just jump on in anywhere! everybody else does :D

fzeko
01-07-2006, 08:30 PM
Oops, I did not realize that they were more entries. I guess that's what happens when you try to read and write about philosophy after a long day at work.

I believe that you are posing a very philosophical question Martha Q and as it goes with philosophical questions there are not definite answers. Somehow I beleive that our actions define us even though I tend to doubt that at times. In the movie "Hellboy" the last lines are "What defines a man is not his origins or where he comes from but his actions and the way that he decides to end things". I don't remember the words by hard completely but that's how they kind of go.

Genetics, the way we are raised, and society formulate us as personalities and characters but sometimes the only way that we come to understand ourselves and who we are is by looking closely at our actions and decisions.

CLAREn
02-06-2006, 09:14 AM
Hi I have just started posting threads and am new to this so if I make any faux pas please let me know!!

I think that M. Satre was trying to encapsulate an ideology based on psychology and his own perceptions of life around him and may possibly be a basis for his own philosophy on life .
We are who we are by our actions the only way one can define a human being is by those actions and outcomes. I don't think he literally meant any single person. What we do as a collective will have an outcome on humanity, therefore as M. Satre states that in doing so he (man)acts for all of humanity be that positive or negative . I read M.Satres' quote as meaning that we are all important and our actions in this life singly and collectively have a baring on humanity.

Fontainhas
02-18-2006, 12:38 PM
I'd say you're right, although there are alot more things to it than that.

Deeds, not words.

Evergreenleaf
02-21-2006, 12:42 AM
To others, people are defined by what they do, because no one else can understand what is in a person's mind. To themselves, people are defined by what they think, their motives, etc.

Which definition is more important--the person's own definition of him or herself, or others' definition? There's a weighty question.

kolob55
02-22-2006, 12:01 AM
A man or woman is defined more by their thoughts, which can be seen in their actions, which determines their character.

armanfaruqui
07-17-2007, 10:58 PM
A man or a woman can not be defined by their thoughts. They may do exactly opposite of what their thoughts were. A woman on telephone may accept an invitation by her collegue for a cup of tea very cheerfully but before that she could and should have whispered in her own ear "my foot".

Midas
07-18-2007, 07:45 PM
There are far too many influencing factors interacting to answer such a question simply. Every effect of a cause, becomes in itself, by interaction, a cause producing an effect.

Thought ALWAYS precedes action, sometimes it is subconscious thought. Our actions, which include reactions, constitute our behaviour.

But how did we form our behaviour? It is formed from nature and nurture. Some of our basic behaviour is inherited. This is easily identified in the rest of the animal kingdom. A bird would know how to build a nest without being shown. A dog will often walk in a circle before bedding down from the habit inherited from its early ancestry as living in the wild. Cats have a natural liking for milk. All animals, including we humans, have a strong, inherited, survival instinct.

A person can be programmed under hypnosis to behave in a certain way, but the trick is to convince them while under hypnosis that they want to act this way. In other words it is by accessing their subconscious and temporarily blocking their conscious mind. This requires skill.

You can reprogram your own 'self' by self hypnosis. This way you can get rid of bad habits. Why don't more people do this? Because they don't believe they can. A computer, in many ways is similar to the brain.

How are we defined? We are defined by how we relate to the one, or those, doing the defining. Whilst this is subjective, a general character is built up according to the number who 'see' (define) us a particular way. We define ourselves by how we see ourselves. The two are often at variance.

All our actions (behaviour) comes directly from the mind - our unconscious actions are still from the mind - the subconscious. What we say is all part of behaviour, as is our body language.

Sometimes, a person who feels misjudged, disliked, and/or misunderstood, in the community, or nation, in which he/she was born and lives, goes to another country and finds just the opposite. The reason for this is understandable - their culture may have a different set of values, and, when you are from another country, or culture, you are unique, and interesting, especially if the nation, or culture you represent is viewed favourably by the new one.

Being received warmly, helps us to react accordingly, and the two interact. This can often result in us becoming a more agreeable person, because we don't have to resort to the defensive and behave negatively. Our mind starts to think differently which in turn alters our actions and body language.

Our thoughts are transmitted outside ourselves, which is intensified by emotion. Our mind is a transmitter as well as a receiver. We have lost much of the 'power' to use this as we have developed language to communicate. Most animals still retain this power as it is more necessary for their survival instinct.

Why do we like, or dislike some people, the moment we are introduced? We are picking up thoughts, we sometimes call 'chemistry,' that we think we can hide behind a smile, and a perfunctory greeting. As we get to know them, we can change because more information permits better evaluation which alters our thought process.

It's a big subject. It's far too big to explain fully here - I for one have not the time. But the more we understand the process, the more it is possible for us to handle situations and perhaps 'win a few more friends and influence people' a la Dale Carnegie. Perhaps also, as Burns wrote:- 'to see ourselves as others see us' .

This is not intended to explain everything fully, just to put a few thoughts in the pot

ampoule
07-18-2007, 08:24 PM
sartre used to say that a man is what he does......his true self is dictated by his actions...and not only his but by acting for himself he acts for the whole of humanity....
is a man defined by his actions? i think not....you?

I think yes and so is a woman.
An even truer statement might be (and this is probably someone's quote), a person is defined by what is done in the dark when no one is looking.

PrinceMyshkin
07-18-2007, 08:56 PM
I think yes and so is a woman.
An even truer statement might be (and this is probably someone's quote), a person is defined by what is done in the dark when no one is looking.

Excuse me but would that not be like the question of whether a tree falling in the forest makes a sound if there is no one there to hear it?

MaryLupin
07-18-2007, 09:12 PM
Thought ALWAYS precedes action, sometimes it is subconscious thought. Our actions, which include reactions, constitute our behaviour.

Actually, no. There was an experiment by Benjamin Libet (http://www.americanscientist.org/template/AssetDetail/assetid/34008/page/2;jsessionid=baa9...) that shows that our perception of thought before action is just that--a perception. To quote the relevant text from the linked article above: "the actual neural preparation to move (RP) preceded conscious awareness of the intention to move (W) by 300 to 500 milliseconds. Put simply, the brain prepared a movement before a subject consciously decided to move! This result suggests that a person's feeling of intention may be an effect of motor preparatory activity in the brain rather than a cause." In other words our perception of our choice or free will maybe a function of our neural activity and not a matter of fact. (Italics mine)

Midas
07-18-2007, 09:59 PM
Mary Lupin: Thanks for your comment. However, where this subject is concerned, and this applies to psychology in general - unfortunately nothing can be proved scientifically, that is empirically.

Also, let us look at this quote:


"the actual neural preparation to move (RP) preceded conscious awareness of the intention to move (W) by 300 to 500 milliseconds. Put simply, the brain prepared a movement before a subject consciously decided to move![/U] This result suggests that a person's feeling of intention may be an effect of motor preparatory activity in the brain rather than a cause." In other words our perception of our choice or free will maybe a function of our neural activity and not a matter of fact.

(The underlines are mine)

I put forward in my post that there are two thought processes - conscious, and subconscious. We are, by its definition, not aware of our subconscious process - the same one that instructs our heart to beat even though we are asleep, or 'unconscious' as in a coma, or knocked out by a blow.

Note also, in the reference to the experiment by Libet the use of 'suggest'
and 'may'.

Our knowledge of the mind is still immature. Academia classifies the study of
psychology (which is the study of human behaviour) as a science, however,
unlike physics, in psychology we are dealing with the intangible - the mind,
not the physical structure of the brain. So, it is not really a science. You can carry out many experiments on behaviour, and you can get many varied results.

We have to consider all 'findings' and suggestions, apply our own common sense and experiences from being aware, and follow our own conclusions.

Thanks again. It is an interesting subject, and is a lifelong study.

MaryLupin
07-18-2007, 10:23 PM
I put forward in my post that there are two thought processes - conscious, and subconscious. We are, by its definition, not aware of our subconscious process - the same one that instructs our heart to beat even though we are asleep, or 'unconscious' as in a coma, or knocked out by a blow.

The world for the nervous system that keeps the heart beating is "autonomic." It is quite distinct from what Freud and Jung meant by the unconscious.


Note also, in the reference to the experiment by Libet the use of 'suggest' and 'may'.

Of course it does, it is a theory...and at this point the best explanation of all the available data.


we are dealing with the intangible - the mind, not the physical structure of the brain.

The mind is a result of brain function and is therefore intimately related to the physical structures of the brain. Otherwise things like lobotomies and chemical substances wouldn't effect the mind, and of course, they do.


We have to consider all 'findings' and suggestions, apply our own common sense and experiences from being aware, and follow our own conclusions.

The problem that Libet's experiments establish is that what we know as common sense may in fact be an illusion created by the workings of the brain. Historical study can show that what is considered common sense in fact is often just enculturation. I mean it used to be common sense that the earth was still and flat...after all, some used to say, if it was round and we were hurtling through space then we would fly off. Common sense is really what it says, the sense of things held by the in common by the people. It does not translate as true. In other words, something may seem totally obvious and be totally wrong.

Re: the scientific status of psychology...that depends on how you define things like "psychology," "science" and "mind."

motherhubbard
07-18-2007, 10:57 PM
sartre used to say that a man is what he does......his true self is dictated by his actions...and not only his but by acting for himself he acts for the whole of humanity....
is a man defined by his actions? i think not....you?


This question makes me think of this poem. Surely the sum of this man was more than his actions.

The Unknown Citizen

(To JS/07/M/378 This Marble Monument Is Erected by the State)

He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to be
One against whom there was no official complaint,
And all the reports on his conduct agree
That, in the modern sense of an old-fashioned word, he was a saint,
For in everything he did he served the Greater Community.
Except for the War till the day he retired
He worked in a factory and never got fired,
But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc.
Yet he wasn't a scab or odd in his views,
For his Union reports that he paid his dues,
(Our report on his Union shows it was sound)
And our Social Psychology workers found
That he was popular with his mates and liked a drink.
The Press are convinced that he bought a paper every day
And that his reactions to advertisements were normal in every way.
Policies taken out in his name prove that he was fully insured,
And his Health-card shows he was once in hospital but left it cured.
Both Producers Research and High-Grade Living declare
He was fully sensible to the advantages of the Installment Plan
And had everything necessary to the Modern Man,
A phonograph, a radio, a car and a frigidaire.
Our researchers into Public Opinion are content
That he held the proper opinions for he time of year;
When there was peace, he was for peace; when there was war, he went.
He was married and added five children to the population,
Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his generation.
And our teachers report that he never interfered with their education.
Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:
Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.

-- W. H. Auden

Midas
07-19-2007, 06:34 AM
The world for the nervous system that keeps the heart beating is "autonomic." It is quite distinct from what Freud and Jung meant by the unconscious.

There are many explanations, and names applied for what is not truly known, and, as we progress, there will be more. Meanwhile, we take our pick, and apply, until we ourselves in our small part of life, but which to us, is all there is, change, or fine tune, our thoughts on the matter.



Of course it does, it is a theory...and at this point the best explanation of all the available data.

That is exactly the point I was making. As to it being the best explanation, that is your personal opinion to accept Libet's theory, and should not be presented as an undisputed fact, or even 'the best there is'.



The mind is a result of brain function and is therefore intimately related to the physical structures of the brain. Otherwise things like lobotomies and chemical substances wouldn't effect the mind, and of course, they do.

Of course there is a 'relationship.' If you read the whole of my post in context, you would see I even open with the importance, and influence, of interaction. I mention this a number of times.

In all our history, we still do not really know which came first, the hen, or the egg. We have only theory. Millions of people, many highly educated, handle their life in the full belief that we all originate from two people
who inhabited the original 'Eden project.' We can believe, or have our own opinions on the matter, that is our choice.

I cannot quote, as a reasonably rational, and unbiased human being with an open mind, a particular theory on the subject and claim that, that is the best we have.

The computer relies on its software, and the software relies on the computer, there is a relationship. Many outside influences exist and interact on both without altering the significance, of both.

Also, is the 'software' the plastic disc we insert, or what is contained on the disc? One is tangible, the other intangible.


The problem that Libet's experiments establish is that what we know as common sense may in fact be an illusion created by the workings of the brain. Historical study can show that what is considered common sense in fact is often just enculturation. I mean it used to be common sense that the earth was still and flat...after all, some used to say, if it was round and we were hurtling through space then we would fly off. Common sense is really what it says, the sense of things held by the in common by the people. It does not translate as true. In other words, something may seem totally obvious and be totally wrong.

Re: the scientific status of psychology...that depends on how you define things like "psychology," "science" and "mind."

Some believe that all life is an illusion. Is our reality, merely a virtual reality? These, to me, are all school yard topics among young thinkers, and often carried through life and later regurgitated in thought provoking outlets like books, and magazines.

All words originate from our need to communicate. For effective communication there needs to be a common understanding of the word in the language it is written. It is therefore 'defined,' at least as a jumping off point for those who like to argue 'meaning,' in a book we decided to name a 'dictionary.' Through use, or contrasting opinions of the erudite, there is often more than one meaning, and these are usually stated. An extension to the dictionary is the thesaurus which delves further into the relationship of the meanings.

I have found that, generally, it facilitates communication if I use the more widely accepted meaning as defined in an accepted dictionary. If I venture outside this parameter, then I attempt to make that clear.

To come back to the word 'common sense', it is a word that, certainly through use, it is understood to mean that mental ability we all have (as opposed to a physical ability) where we apply our accrued knowledge, our
basic senses, instincts, logic, and reason to arrive at an understanding of something requiring our understanding.

The fact that we all have something, does not mean that it is equally used or developed. We all have muscles, but they are not equally developed. So, 'common-sense' is derived from an acceptance of a common standard existing at a given period and shared by the majority.

At least, that is how I can put it as simply as possible, within the confines of such a thread where, from experience I have learned that the average 'attention span' is strictly limited.

Like so many of the intangibles relating to 'mind' it can be argued 'till the cows come home' by the argumentative with lots of time on their hands, and the need to milk a cow.

However, thank you for your comments. It offers an opportunity to stimulate, and retest my own thoughts. I hope for others it does likewise.

We are NOT what we EAT, but what we THINK. Or, to put it another way - 'As a man thinketh, so is he'. (and that applies to 'she')

MaryLupin
07-19-2007, 09:00 PM
To go back to the beginning for a moment…what I was responding to was the following:


Thought ALWAYS precedes action, sometimes it is subconscious thought. Our actions, which include reactions, constitute our behaviour.

You made a categorical statement which says that thought always precedes action. It is a statement you use to support you contention that human identity is fundamentally one of thought. You seem to be arguing that what is essentially human is the capacity for thought. In order to support this hypothesis you bring forward some evidence. This evidence is that “thought always precedes action.”

What I did is show that at least in one instance (Libet’s research and those who set up further experiments to test his findings and found exactly the same thing) thought does not precede action, rather action precedes thought.

All that is required to destroy a categorical statement is one piece of evidence that shows its falsity. Let me give you an example: I can say “All cats are purple.” All that is necessary to destroy the truth of this is to show at least one cat that is not purple. I would have to amend the statement to say “Some cats are purple.” Then the rules of evidence would be different. I could be shown hundreds and hundreds of non-purple cat and still hold onto my belief that “some cats are purple.” At this point, unless I have some compelling reason (evidence) to show why I hold on to such a belief then I have almost certainly crossed the line from reasoned thinking (allowing evidence) to faith (certainty that does not require or admit evidence).


As to it being the best explanation, that is your personal opinion to accept Libet's theory, and should not be presented as an undisputed fact, or even 'the best there is'.

If evidence is not a criteria for truth value of a statement then all beliefs are equal. Without rules of evidence the belief “all cats are purple” has the same weight as “the apple will drop because of gravity” has the same weight as “the apple will drop because god told it to.” Only in that sense (i.e. without the acceptance of rules of evidence) is the truth of Libet’s research only “my belief.”

And if we are talking without even the most basic common ground of an acceptance of the importance of evidence then we are not talking just producing clacking noises on a keyboard.

So, is there any evidence you will accept that will challenge you basic position? If not, then it is a position of faith and this is pointless to argue. In other words, how many brown, orange, black and white cats do you need to see before you accept that there are no purple cats?

Midas
07-20-2007, 06:09 AM
Mary Lupin: First let me say that I deliberately underlined ALWAYS and phrased my comment in what could be construed (out of context) as a statement of fact, deliberately to evoke a challenge from anyone who thought otherwise.

I love to learn other opinions on this, to me, very interesting subject.

However, I included sufficient other comment, if all was read in context, to indicate that so far nothing can be conclusively proved where mind, per se, is concerned. I closed by stating that we should consider all findings, or thoughts on the matter, then decide for ourselves.

One advantage of this subject is that everything we need for any experiment or observation is always at hand - we all have a mind and carry it with us all the time. Whilst we are awake we are constantly aware of its functioning. It is therefore much easier for us to arrive at our own conclusions, than in, say, Newton's 'Laws of Motion' or 'Gravity' or Pythagoras' theorem.



What I did is show that at least in one instance (Libetís research and those who set up further experiments to test his findings and found exactly the same thing) thought does not precede action, rather action precedes thought.

Actually you did not show this, and neither did Libet. With his experiment, Libet claims that some action may be unconscious, and not conscious.
The subconscious could be a form of unconscious, as so little is known.

Our body language often tells much about us, and this we are not 'conscious' of until someone points it out. We have to be often reminded of a bad 'habit' in the form of an action, which if we were conscious of we would not do, or when it is brought to our attention (our concsiousness} we stop - until we forget, and our 'unconscience' takes over.


I also said the same thing, and make this most clear, even in my follow-up posts, although perhaps arriving at this conclusion from a different direction, and using subconscious instead of unconscious. Libet's objective was to attempt to show that all action may not be the result of actual conscious thought. However, his experiments were far from conclusive even on this score.

We are all aware also of 'involuntary' movement in the body, even after death, caused by muscle spasm, or wind in the body, or whatever. I have witnessed this myself. It has also been found that a severed head can still retain signs of life for some seconds. But this has nothing whatever to do with the subject of the thread which I was addressing.

I don't want to get into nit picking on words for the purpose of peripheral argument. I assumed that in the thread title the word 'actions' here is synonymous with behaviour. I think 'behaviour is a little more encompassing than 'actions' from which to judge, or if it is preferred, 'define' a person,

In one of my posts I used an analogy with a computer. However, the mind is far more complex than any computer, and, I believe, its potential far more under used even by the most intelligent amongst us. For one thing, thoughts
evoke emotion, in a computer there is no emotion (yet. Tomorrow, who knows)


To avoid lengthy argument, and to answer the thread's question as succinctly as possible, it is my belief that we are defined by others, from our behaviour. I believe our behaviour stems from what is in our mind (our thoughts) What is up there is not always clear cut, in most of us it is a mishmash of clutter, some surface, some buried deep.

We often confuse ourselves as to what we really think as a result. Some thoughts can be buried so deep - like lost files in a cluttered Victorian office, and can only be accessed by hypnosis - and even then, only after much effort, and expertise.

To answer, 'Who are we?' (another form of the question) We are what we THINK. We are mind with a body, not body with a mind. I will stand by that through thick and thin.

You (anyone) don't believe, or have doubt?

Ok, how about this. You have a very close loving relative, or friend. He/she is involved in an accident and is badly disfigured and seriously, physically, injured for life and the face terribly disfigured.

It means many visits to the hospital, or bedside to have contact. However, the brain is undamaged and you could converse recalling happier times and discussions about present and future - even playing chess, or discussing a book. There are jokes, and laughter, though the disfigurement was a lot to overcome, and accept. This happens constantly. We are thankful to have them still with us.

Now change the scenario, the friend or relative escaped outward injury, in fact he/she looked just as before. However, the brain has been permanently damaged, nothing can ever change that. There is no memory, no recognition, and never will be.

The Drs advise the life support system to be switched off or it would mean a lifetime in this condition - just an otherwise perfect body lying there like a vegetable. This also happens constantly, and, eventually, the life support system is switched off.

My posts here are merely 'food for thought', I do not claim to have the definitive answer.


In other words, how many brown, orange, black and white cats do you need to see before you accept that there are no purple cats?

Sorry, couldn't let this one go as you appear to require me to answer

My answer: I could not accept, and state conclusively, there were no purple cats until I had seen, or reached everyone who had a cat who told me none were purple.

If I had feed back on a large number, I may say that 'it appears' there are possibly no purple cats. (Actually, I don't think I have seen an orange one - ginger yes, orange no, but there may be some, or one.)

Incidentally Mary T, I made a quick search of the internet, and surprise, surprise, it appears there are 'purple' cats.

'.....This log is dedicated to the many cats of the Miller household. And, in particular, the "purple" cat Bully.......' (smile)



As for 'evidence, and rules thereof, you make valid points that anyone woulld be foolish to challenge. However, here they are misapplied in support of your argument.

The only 'evidence' is that Libet carried out some experiments (but which did not purport to find what you stated). They related to consciouness and
action but did not exclude the unconscious, which could be within the realms of subconscious of which little is known) However, none were conclusive.

One final comment on your cat analogy. We can see, and touch a cat. We cannot see, or touch the mind. The mind responds differently in different
subjects even in the same conditions. Therefore, it is impossible to subject
it to empirical experiment and arrive at conclusive evidence that can apply to all minds.

MaryLupin
07-20-2007, 10:32 PM
One final comment on your cat analogy. We can see, and touch a cat. We cannot see, or touch the mind. The mind responds differently in different subjects even in the same conditions.

What evidence can you give to support this statement? Experimentation or supposition?


Therefore, it is impossible to subject it to empirical experiment and arrive at conclusive evidence that can apply to all minds.

If it is the first then one can make empirical statements about the mind. If it is the second it is another categorical statement or a statement of belief/faith without evidence. If it is the second then it is a meaningless statement with respect to a shared conversation.



To answer, 'Who are we?' (another form of the question) We are what we THINK. We are mind with a body, not body with a mind.

I would say more that we are a body/mind or more precisely, we are a conscious body. Radical change in the body changes the patterns of mind. Consciousness studies seems to be pointing toward the idea that the mind is an emergent property of the brain.


I will stand by that through thick and thin.

And if this is true then your stance, however arrived, has become an article of faith and not of reason.

Midas
07-22-2007, 05:48 AM
Mary Lupin: This argument, I fear, is being dragged away from the main issue of the thread, and is becoming one of semantics.

From your comments, you are still picking on bits of the whole and ignoring the rest of my post which would qualify the statements you pick on and make clear the intended meaning. I pointed this out before.

There are experiments, and experiments. All experiment findings do not end up as what have been termed in science as 'laws'. A scientific experiment performed under the required empirical criterion and findings accepted as producing conclusive evidence can be termed a theory and a law.
Usually, the difference being that the core part of the theory (the law) can be presented as a mathematical equation.

Now I am not a scientist, or a mathematician, nor should one need to be if a little common sense is used in the understanding of a point being made on the thread subject. This is a thread on a website forum, not a term paper. We should be ever conscious of dragging other readers into a peripheral argument.

I assume a mind cannot be seen, or touched because no one, as far as I know, in the history of man has ever seen, or physically touched, a mind (brain yes, mind no)

If you, or anyone, can prove me wrong on this, please feel free.

I personally have seen, and touched a cat.

Newton's experiments on gravity, or motion, applied to all things physical, that means of matter or having 'mass'.

The core findings are termed 'laws', but you may also see them referred to as 'theories', and, taken in general terms, they are, and can be added to, as Einstein did. They would not apply to the mind. The mind is not physical. (They would apply to a cat - even a purple or orange cat, or even the human body, or physical part thereof)

The only 'experiments' carried out on 'minds' and behaviour, and in the course of my life I have carried out many experiments on behaviour and read the findings of others, appear to show fairly conclusively that human behaviour is fickle. Certainly nothing could be presented as a mathematical equation or having universal acceptance.

We may conclude that faced with a threat a person (or animal) will fight, or take flight - a theory first suggested in 1927 by Walter Cannon. But then, that is not so. An animal, or human could 'freeze' - that is neither run, nor fight - and many do.

It is not possible to predict the same reaction to a set of identical circumstances between two or more individuals, and what is more, not in the same person if repeated. One day in a trench and under attack a soldier may stand and fight, the next day, later, under similar circumstances he may run - or lie down and pretend to be dead.

I did make perfectly clear that in this area, that means where this thread is concerned, we can only take the findings of others, and/or our own experiences, and observation, and make up our own minds.

Nowhere do I say, I am right, believe me. This should qualify any personal comment in my post that may be construed (where it should not) as 'factual evidence' or accepted law arrived at under scientific empirical conditions.

You say:

I would say more that we are a body/mind or more precisely, we are a conscious body. Radical change in the body changes the patterns of mind. Consciousness studies seems to be pointing toward the idea that the mind is an emergent property of the brain.

If that is what you believe, then I accept that as your belief. If someone wishes to believe we are all programmed, and have no such thing as a mind of our own, then that is their belief. Nothing has ever been conclusively proved otherwise.

I concluded my last posting with an example to support my hypotheses concerning the importance of mind, over the physical body in determining who we really are. Of course, the physical, ie., the brain, is necessary as the transmitter and receiver unit, just as the computer is for the software, or the TV for the programs. The body is also necessary to house the brain.

But you can have two identical computers and feed one with a rubbish piece of software, and the other with a quality piece. What makes the difference between the two? Which would you choose? Would you define the difference by the computer (there isn't any), or the difference from its 'actions' (behaviour, ability, afforded by its software)

The same adage applies to the mind - garbage in, garbage out.

If once again, you feel like taking this away from the core issue, and arguing semantics, or whatever, I am happy to do this by 'private' message - unless there are sufficient readers who find it of interest and are happy to sit this out.

MaryLupin
07-22-2007, 08:56 AM
Two comments and then I am happy to leave this be:


But you can have two identical computers and feed one with a rubbish piece of software, and the other with a quality piece. What makes the difference between the two? Which would you choose? Would you define the difference by the computer (there isn't any), or the difference from its 'actions' (behaviour, ability, afforded by its software)

The same adage applies to the mind - garbage in, garbage out.

The problem with your analogy is that unlike a computer, which has a mind (its software) that comes from somewhere else (gives deus ex machina a more precisely correct meaning?), our computer (brain) writes its own. And of course, although there are deep structural identities, no two brains are precisely alike. Discussing the mind without reference to the brain is more like discussing the odd fluctuating patterns in a heat cloud over a toaster without discussing the odd fluctuating breaks in the electric coils within the body of the toaster.


being dragged away from the main issue of the thread, and is becoming one of semantics.

From your comments, you are still picking on bits of the whole and ignoring the rest of my post

If you structure a wonderfully intricate equation but in it there is a phrase 1+1=3, the only thing that matters is that error. The rest will live or die by this "semantic" particular. Your categorical statement (the one bit I picked on) was this error.

Midas
07-22-2007, 11:45 AM
You say:

Two comments and then I am happy to leave this be:

Here we go again. (I don't really mind, if no one else does)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Midas
'.......But you can have two identical computers and feed one with a rubbish piece of software, and the other with a quality piece. What makes the difference between the two? Which would you choose? Would you define the difference by the computer (there isn't any), or the difference from its 'actions' (behaviour, ability) afforded by its software.

The same adage applies to the mind - garbage in, garbage out............'

You respond:


The problem with your analogy is that unlike a computer, which has a mind (its software) that comes from somewhere else (gives deus ex machina a more precisely correct meaning?), our computer (brain) writes its own. And of course, although there are deep structural identities, no two brains are precisely alike. Discussing the mind without reference to the brain is more like discussing the odd fluctuating patterns in a heat cloud over a toaster without discussing the odd fluctuating breaks in the electric coils within the body of the toaster.

The dictionary (Oxford) meaning of analogy is 'partial likeness of a thing compared.' So, I would never claim any analogy I use to be exact. I would also expect anyone with whom I was presenting argument to understand that, without myself having to express it.

Your comment:
unlike a computer, which has a mind (its software) that comes from somewhere else (gives deus ex machina a more precisely correct meaning?), our computer (brain).

It can only be an opinion you are expressing that our brain writes its own software.
It cannot be a statement of fact for reasons we have already discussed. It cannot be proved how the mind is formulated.

For instance, to me, the brain is merely the processor. The 'software', however, unlike the computer does not down load from a single disc because man is not a machine. It is continuously being updated, and imputed via the senses into the processor (brain).

Nowhere have I stated that the brain is, or should be, separated from mind. In the same way I would not separate the computer from the software. I referred to the interrelationship of all parts.

We often talk of cause and effect as though they are single, stand alone, actions, or events. But, when looked at with a broad view, every effect becomes the cause of another effect. To me life is merely a long chain of interacting 'causes and effects'. This is where the teaching of history goes astray. The way it is taught is so often in dibs and dabs of events - often jumping all over the place. There is no cohesion.

Why you are 'hooking' on this is beyond me. I have merely commented, and given analogies why, in responding to the theme of this thread, I rate 'the mind' (assuming an acceptance that there is 'a mind') is the source and channel for our behaviour, and that, to me, it is from our behaviour (used here in its broad sense) we are defined by others.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Midas
'....being dragged away from the main issue of the thread, and is becoming one of semantics.

From your comments, you are still picking on bits of the whole and ignoring the rest of my post ......'

Your response:

If you structure a wonderfully intricate equation but in it there is a phrase 1+1=3, the only thing that matters is that error. The rest will live or die by this "semantic" particular. Your categorical statement (the one bit I picked on) was this error.__________________

Mathematics is precise. This is why in Science when a theory can be presented in a mathematical equation which can be used by anyone, it is referred to as a universal law, and is elevated above theory.

Language, on the other hand, is not precise. This is why, English, a language used by so many eminent writers, even international ones, developed such a wide range of words of similar meaning in order for the writer to attempt to get as close a meaning as possible to that which he/she wished to convey.

Get a word wrong, or perhaps not quite close, or misspelled, and usually (depending on the seriousness of the error) the writing can be understood. Get one figure wrong in an equation.........well..need I explain further.

NikolaiI
07-23-2007, 04:58 PM
I think we are defined by our actions, but it would be better to say "people are defined by their actions." There's no reason to exclude women and children from this debate, I think it's a philisophical one about what a subject is, and applies to any subject, er.. let's say humans.

There was a book released in 1968 that claimed there was no such thing as personality, that people did things based on their environment, and a good person would do a bad thing or vice versa, and it depended on the circumstances. I think this is more or less true, but since then the debate has gone back and forth until I think the community decided it was a mixture of personality and environment.

There is such thing as personality, however, we should keep into account that people can be unreliable or unpredictable. Just because someone has behaved a certain way in the past doesn't mean they will do it again. People are unpredictable.

But it seems generally accepted that the answer is yes. We are legally held accountable for our actions and in some religions, divinely so, too.

Midas
07-24-2007, 03:40 AM
"people are defined by their actions."

Not just people - all of the animal kingdom. But this, I'm sure, is generally understood.

A couple of well worn cliches on the subject, but, to me, are most valid

'Actions speak louder than words'

'When all is said and done, there is always more said than done'

But it is my firm belief that mind controls our actions - sometimes our conscious mind, and sometimes our subconcious (or non conscious - as in embedded in our 'hard drive')

Hence: 'As a man thinketh, so is he' and that applies to all sexes - male, female, and 'not quite sure'.

Do animals think? I believe they do, though I had a number of arguments with my professor on this.

gothic
08-01-2007, 12:01 PM
man is mainly influenced by two factors-by his own characteristics,some of which he is born with and some created by the inevitable influence of his surroundings and atmosphere.
great and noble men most of the times are observed to born with another thing,that is to cut out the dark layer of the negative influence of his environment over his innate potential.
from this we could conclude that man can't be judged by his activities or circumstances alone,both could be influenced perpetually by each other-sometimes person by circumstances,sometimes circumstances are shadowed by the very self of a person.

blazeofglory
05-13-2008, 09:12 PM
sartre used to say that a man is what he does......his true self is dictated by his actions...and not only his but by acting for himself he acts for the whole of humanity....
is a man defined by his actions? i think not....you?

MAN CAN NOT BE DEFINED BY ANYTHING, AND IT IS OUR ENDLESS TO DISCOVER MAN. WE HAVE EXPLORED INTO MANY NEW REALMS BUT NOT OURSELVES.