What general traits define us?

Discussion in 'General Off-Topic Chat' started by Lucifer666, Feb 22, 2016.

  1. Lucifer666
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    Lucifer666 all the world needs is me

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    I'm writing an essay on epistemology

    In one sentence I want to give examples of characteristics that "define" a person or tells you who they are

    I did a bit of brainstorming and came up with:
    • faith (or lack thereof)
    • moral/ethical standpoints
    • philosophies one follows
    but apart from that I seem to be drawing blanks for some reason. Anyone wanna share their ideas? Might even be nice and cite/credit a good response to whoever in my essay
     
  2. mashers

    mashers Stubborn ape

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    Interesting question. First I think you need to specify what you mean by 'defining a person', or 'who they are'. Since this is an essay on epistemology, I assume you are looking for traits which distinguish people from each other in a factual sense rather than matters of opinion. So you need to be clear about the terms you use. E.g. 'sex' is a factual distinction based on the type of genitals an individual has, whereas 'gender' is arguably less based in the biological fact of the configuration of the individual's body and more on the cognitive, perceptual or value judgements of the individual, the group and the society. Also bear in mind that for many traits, people will differ on their opinion of whether or not, or how extensively, they characterise a person. Again taking the example of gender, some would argue that gender and sex are one and the same, whereas others would say that the are separable and thus result in more than two categories (e.g. male+man, female+man, male+woman, female+woman).

    You could draw on anthropological and sociological methods of describing people, as these disciplines will necessarily attempt to categorise people according to some trait or quality. If you want something to contrast these to, you could also use medical and economic models as these will naturally separate people using different criteria.

    Off the top of my head, I can think of:
    • Accommodation status (type of accommodation [if any], rented/owned, ...)
    • Age
    • Employment status
    • Ethnicity
    • Gender
    • Neurotype (typical, autistic, pathological, ...)
    • Race
    • Sex
    • Sexuality
    • Socio-economic status (relative to both local and global economic conditions)
    I alphabetised this list so that the order would not imply any particular importance to any given item.

    On the subject of citation/credit, if this is a piece of academic work you should find a peer-reviewed reference for what you decide to include in your essay. A posting on an Internet forum would not be considered robust enough for most academic work.
     
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  3. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    I can not say I contemplate what you list much when categorising other people, save perhaps when people take to extremes of any of those.
    On religion I have met religious medics (fewer as the years go on though), that they can switch it off and do science based medicine works for me and I have no problems with them being religious. Those that might say stop the science and pray instead I have bigger problems with.

    Not what I use but could provoke for some thoughts for you


    You mention nothing of intelligence, though this could be a tricky subject ( http://skyview.vansd.org/lschmidt/Projects/The Nine Types of Intelligence.htm , note that such a thing is somewhat debated in psychology but again I wish more to provoke thought than provide straight up answers).

    What psychology does more of but still has trouble with would be personality types and that is very much concerned with dominant and defining traits. http://www.businessballs.com/personalitystylesmodels.htm covers various methods used, the MBTI being the more popular one in the public conciousness.

    This is all getting some aside from the thing I probably should have asked at the start of this, that being what do you expect to gain from all this? People have used it to try to employ better people, adapt to suit a given group, weed out "bad" people from groups (bad is fun to define -- certain places might find it fine to weed out those that would never dream of bruising an intellectual property statute, do that here and you will end up with maybe two people and a few spambots), advertise to others (Sigmund Freud had a nephew called Edward Bernays who used a lot of his work on defining groups and became a marketing/advertising industry legend with it, and also did some very suspect things along the way), write a compelling story (that youtube video I linked is all about that), some more benign reason, pure intellectual curiosity, provide a relatively simplistic means by which people that might struggle with this can use to tell things about people (I see things like this taught to such people from time to time)....
     
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  4. mashers

    mashers Stubborn ape

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    It might also be helpful to know the essay title actually.
     
  5. Lucifer666
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    Lucifer666 all the world needs is me

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    @mashers thanks so much for the insight! A lot of provocative stuff to look through there

    @FAST6191 oh I hope I didn't imply that I think religious people cannot be neutral by nature! if anything I'm with you on this one; I have little patience for people who think otherwise

    The essay is on the effect of perspective on knowledge gain

    The sentence in question comments on the objectivity of the natural/experimental sciences and how the outcome of an experiment (assuming done correctly) is not swerved by the researcher's characteristics, like... (and I proceed to give examples)

    It's articulated much better obviously. I fear copy-pasting the sentence/paragraph in its entirety since upon submission the essay will be run through a plagiarism checker which might pick up this discussion
     
  6. mashers

    mashers Stubborn ape

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    In what sense? I interpret this as the filtering of the objective fact to subjective opinion by individual perspective, but want to make sure we're talking about the same thing.

    Ok, that makes sense. So in this instance I think it's more important to contrast this with an ineffective study. So you could compare double blind methodology to one in which the researcher knows to which group each participant belongs and how this, coupled with the researcher's own bias (due in part to the factors we are discussing) could affect the outcome of the study. You could also discuss whether these effects are objective (i.e. the researcher's characteristics had an actual effect on the results of the study such as the behaviour of the participants) or subjective (i.e. the researcher interpreted the results of the study in a particular way due to their characteristics, and in ways which may not have been interpreted by another researcher with a different set of characteristics).

    This is quite a fascinating topic of study which overlaps with a host of other disciplines. For example, a question commonly asked by philosophers is "how can we know anything?" The only think I have any objective knowledge of is my own consciousness, and even that is debatable. Everything else is filtered by my senses and my perception of those senses, and is therefore only an approximation of any objective fact which may exist. I have no objective evidence that anything beyond my own consciousness even exists.

    dk serious.gif

    Quite, it would definitely pop up as a result in a Google search.