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Old 11-07-2012, 10:43 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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This is a hypothetical, of course. Having a name - both given and family - seems to be an integral part of human society and civilisation, and is present in every society with language. Aside from identifying individuals, names have meanings, sometimes spiritual meaning, and show one's nationality/ethnicity, tribal affiliation, occupation and place within the village/clan.etc.

Imagine though if we had no names. Imagine not having a name. How would that affect one's sense of 'personhood' and individuality? Would it literally make us less conscious and in a way less conscious? In many societies there is less of this idea of being an 'individual' and more a part of a greater whole, are people in these societies less selfish, greedy, less afraid of death? They are less independent and self-reliant, their identity sort of merges in with the greater whole. Not having a name provides a sort of anonymity, it makes you seem more like an animal. Which extends into labels and other sort of names. I think we'd be far less race conscious if there were no racial terms like 'white, black, caucasian, negro' not to mention derogatory terms. Likewise, loaded terms like 'heathen, savage, upper-class, American...' Of course there would have to be some way of identifying us, but names sort of imbue qualities on people, they're more than just names IMO. A weird name makes a person seem more individual, for instance. I just wonder if we'd have less a sense of self if we weren't constantly reminded of our name/individuality.
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Old 11-07-2012, 11:30 PM
 
Location: Logan Township, Minnesota
15,511 posts, read 13,284,120 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
This is a hypothetical, of course. Having a name - both given and family - seems to be an integral part of human society and civilisation, and is present in every society with language. Aside from identifying individuals, names have meanings, sometimes spiritual meaning, and show one's nationality/ethnicity, tribal affiliation, occupation and place within the village/clan.etc.

Imagine though if we had no names. Imagine not having a name. How would that affect one's sense of 'personhood' and individuality? Would it literally make us less conscious and in a way less conscious? In many societies there is less of this idea of being an 'individual' and more a part of a greater whole, are people in these societies less selfish, greedy, less afraid of death? They are less independent and self-reliant, their identity sort of merges in with the greater whole. Not having a name provides a sort of anonymity, it makes you seem more like an animal. Which extends into labels and other sort of names. I think we'd be far less race conscious if there were no racial terms like 'white, black, caucasian, negro' not to mention derogatory terms. Likewise, loaded terms like 'heathen, savage, upper-class, American...' Of course there would have to be some way of identifying us, but names sort of imbue qualities on people, they're more than just names IMO. A weird name makes a person seem more individual, for instance. I just wonder if we'd have less a sense of self if we weren't constantly reminded of our name/individuality.
Interesting thought. I only see names as essential so people will be able to find us in the phone book.


Looking back it has been a long time since I have used my birth name, which is also my legal entity identification. It is just a fancy code for storage in filing systems. I see people as multi faceted gems, we only know others by the various facets they allow us to see. And others know us by the facets we allow others to see. Perhaps in some case that is just one facet which we call a name.
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Old 11-07-2012, 11:54 PM
 
2,096 posts, read 3,850,858 times
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I'm of the opinion a name either reflects someone's personality, or it influences their destiny to some degree. Parents choose names that seem to 'fit' a particular baby much of time, I think a given name has a platonic value of sorts and is more than simply a tag.

People with the same name in my opinion often have resemblances in their appearance and personality.
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Old 11-08-2012, 12:11 AM
 
Location: Logan Township, Minnesota
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Originally Posted by belmont22 View Post
I'm of the opinion a name either reflects someone's personality, or it influences their destiny to some degree. Parents choose names that seem to 'fit' a particular baby much of time, I think a given name has a platonic value of sorts and is more than simply a tag.

People with the same name in my opinion often have resemblances in their appearance and personality.
Could that be because people with the same name are usually of the same Race and Nationality?

I maybe in the minority, but I do not place much emphasis on my birth name. But I do strive to live up to my religious name that I selected. In the past I placed my academic and Military titles above my name as my identification.
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Old 11-08-2012, 07:21 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
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Humans evolved language, and language is a system in which distinct sounds are used to represent discernible things, action, qualities, relationships, etc. A person's name is simply a word in the common vocabulary that is used to distinguish the thing (person) from another thing. If people did not have names, we would have to use the much less efficient device of referring to him as "The guy with the red beard who is always grumbling about how hard it is to get across the river then the rocks are slippery". Calling him Grok would be more efficient, and it was soon discovered that if babies were given a name early on, it would obviate the necessity to call the person by an entire paragraph that alluded to all his distinguishing characteristics. Sleepy and Bashful and Grumpy and Snow White got their names the same way, and it soon became apparent that arbitrary names from childhood negated the necessity to keep relearning new names as personality and demeanor shifted.

So, simply, if people didn't have names, people who talk about them would quickly invent and agree upon names for them. Language came into existence because it was useful, and like all evolved systems, natural selection prevailed to give it all the forms that worked best.

However, people also have names that can shift, to a degree. to match their personality. Bob, Bobby, Rob, Robbie and Robert all started out with the same name, and over their lives, adopted the form that they (or others) thought suited them best. I think every person I've ever known who was called "Jack" had a drinking problem, in addition to their legal name of John.
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Old 11-08-2012, 11:10 AM
 
1,458 posts, read 2,225,145 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by belmont22 View Post
I'm of the opinion a name either reflects someone's personality, or it influences their destiny to some degree. Parents choose names that seem to 'fit' a particular baby much of time, I think a given name has a platonic value of sorts and is more than simply a tag.

People with the same name in my opinion often have resemblances in their appearance and personality.
I have to disagree with you on parents choosing names that seem to fit.

My generation of young-ish parents (27-37) almost without exception chooses a name prior to birth. I was the only one I knew that went in with two possibilities and the intent to choose which fits better.
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Old 11-08-2012, 02:22 PM
 
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Language goes deeper than utterances. It's the mind organizing the world. Even a mantis, without forming a word for it, flees from the hornet but hunts the butterfly. Because it cognates a thing of danger versus one that's prey. It "names" those things respectively. So this is kind of an impossible question. If we didn't have names we'd have been born in utter Zen transcendence of individuation, though I don't know how the object act of copulation would be possible in the first place!
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Old 11-08-2012, 09:37 PM
 
1,770 posts, read 2,442,833 times
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Names give a person an identity that is not only individualistic, but tribal and historical. Look how the bible and particularly viking sagas spend a great deal of time on identity. I believe that when one belongs to a great lineage it gives one a sense of responsibility to 'carry on the good name' and thus, naming tends to police an individual. Viking and Russian names identify the individual not only to the family name but also recognize one's father; the daughter of so and so. And the Russian last name indicates wether the woman is married or not. I agree that a first name can certainly condem a poor child; I really dislike it when someone gives a little girl a stripper name. Imagine having a female physician with a name like Destiny. Those of us in entertainment often take a 'stage name' as it helps to separate our work from our private life. We must have names. Othewise if we were in danger and someone had to warn us, what would they yell, "hey you with the blonde hair and red dress ....."
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Old 11-09-2012, 11:15 PM
 
2,096 posts, read 3,850,858 times
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Originally Posted by Woodrow LI View Post
Could that be because people with the same name are usually of the same Race and Nationality?

I maybe in the minority, but I do not place much emphasis on my birth name. But I do strive to live up to my religious name that I selected. In the past I placed my academic and Military titles above my name as my identification.
Not just that, but also generally from the same era. There are some timeless names, like John, George, Elizabeth, etc but most people's names clearly tie them to an era. If somebody's name is Jennifer there's at least a 75% chance they are somewhere between 20 and 40 years old for example.
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Old 11-09-2012, 11:17 PM
 
2,096 posts, read 3,850,858 times
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Originally Posted by rohirette View Post
I have to disagree with you on parents choosing names that seem to fit.

My generation of young-ish parents (27-37) almost without exception chooses a name prior to birth. I was the only one I knew that went in with two possibilities and the intent to choose which fits better.
My name was going to be Nick but my mother said I didn't seem like a Nick, so she decided to name me Michael instead. Honestly, I would have rather been a Nick but Michael probably does fit me more when I think about it.

But don't you think if your parents felt, once you were born, the name didn't fit you, they may have indeed chosen something else?
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