Thursday, February 19, 2009

Knowing the events or the shape

In a discussion with a friend in regards to knowledge about people, we came a question of interest.

Given a choice between the shape of a human life (the perspectives, the outlooks, the opinions) and the significant events and turning points of it, which would you have rather picked?

The friend argued to me that the events of a person's life shape the life of the person, and if you knew the shape of the person's life it means that you know pretty much the same thing as anyone who knew the events, save said actual events themselves. I conceded that as somewhat true.

"I know him", he said, referring to a particular subject in question.

Yet, the assumption seemed to be that the subject would have been the way he was even without any event to shape his life. At least, when I asked about any possible event that could have shaped said subject, and the friend seemed to reply negatively.

"What's there?" he said, referring to the life of the subject.

There are reasons for everything, weak or strong, or many to one. Whether he says it or not, something has caused a person to be acting that way. And in certain cases, it need not even be conscious on part of the person. At least, that's what I believe. >_>

To say you know someone's actions and beliefs and mannerisms and not know why he acts that way acts counter to knowing the person, doesn't it? At the very least, I find it paralleling one dismissing the acts of a problem child as problematic and never finding out why they were problematic or why said child is a problem child in the first place. Queer, innit?

My point was that knowing the events that shaped a person's life allowed you to know about the shape of the person's life and why exactly it ended up that way. (Another friend shot the argument down later by asking what I would do if the person was a stranger I knew only via MSN, but ah well). Furthermore, it worked even for subconscious shaping of a person's life, a point rather evident to me since someone actually guessed (correctly, too) a rather - well, not say unknown but something I don't really talk about - event in my life just like that, figuring out why I changed as a result of that event.

It's really just a bunch of rambles and all, but there's a rather interesting question at the bottom of this.

Do you know a person if you know only the shape of his life and not why he ended up like that?
Do you know a person if you know the significant events of his life but have to guess the effect it had on him?

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