Tuesday, March 28, 2006

multiply disordered personalities

one's reaction to a given phenomena says more about oneself than it says about that to which one responds.

take a man, named joe for example, and ask what kind of person this is. if you look at the person strictly as a biological entity, you may define this person as a set of digestive disorders, muscle pains, and patterns of neurological firing that may or may not make more or less sense. but you also have to look at what a person says and what a person does, because, as observers, this is the only information we have about who joe really is.

the motivations an observer, jane for example, ascribes to joe is a product of what jane has heard or seen from joe. the associations jane's mind forms between joe's statements and behaviors become the basis of joe's personality - which, in this sense is really something in jane's mind.

for jane to ascribe a motivation to joe is for jane to formulate a hypotheisis relating jane's model of joe's psychology to how joe, as a biological entity, will respond to a given stimulus.

personality is an empirical thing, but any number of people trying to evaluate joe will identify as significant different utterances and behaviors; and in virtue of each person's own experiences, any observer might form different types of associations between these actions and phrases. in a sense, joe has as many personalities as people who are acquainted with him.

and while this may sound like a sort of solipsism, if all my friends are really just constructs in my mind, what it really means is that personality, if it is a single thing, is a kaleidoscope. and it may sound frightening, to think of things this way, but really it underscores the role of trusting one's own sense and intuition about things.

personality may be a kaleidoscope; and it may be difficult, looking through a kaleidoscope, to figure out which way is up...

but personality is nevertheless an empirical thing, and those who touch and turn the kaleidoscope through which they view the world may have trust in what they are feeling

1 comment:

immanuel williams said...

this post is really nice... i really like your idea and sentiment. it is alos something i have thought about lots in the past, though not for a little while now.