Originally posted by sc2099
It's a rare occurrence but I have to disagree with you, Illusions.
Its ok to disagree. And, I am not surprised in light of the hippie argument.
We are not really talking about the "What Is" of a person, but more the way the "what is" allows us to label them.
If we were discussing the "what is" I would agree with you. But I cant when it comes to categories. I am, for instance, exactly what I am. But
how I appear to you, how you might categorize me, says little about "what I am" and more about "how I look/seem to you."
If for instance, you did not know Michael Jackson at all, had never heard of him, and you and I were talking on the street, and Michael came by with a
group of obviously African American men, and I said, "that effeminate looking white guy" and you looked at that crowd, you would know exactly who I
was talking about.
If two guys were standing across the same street, and one was dressed in a suit and the other in torn jeans, Birkenstocks, and a tie-dyed Tshirt, and
I said, "over there, the hippie guy" you would immediately know to whom I was directing your attention. It would not matter one whit that the guy
in the suit was a homeless man, and the guy in the tie dye was a CEO of Google, you would still understand exactly to whom I was referring because you
would be pulling from the traits that fit the category "hippie" in your mind and applying them to the two people in front of you to see which one
Originally posted by sc2099
IMO, you cannot change the traits you were born with. You can cover them up and make them look different, but you cannot actually change
Babies are born with blue eyes. Sometimes they change to other colors. Mine are now green. Are all people blue eyed people?
My hair was reddish at birth, the platinum blond as a toddler, then brownish red as an adult. All naturally with no assistance from chemicals. What
color is my hair?
I have two legs now, if I lose one in an accident tomorrow, how many legs will I have? Am I going to be a two legged or one legged person?
We actually can see that we use "categories" and "descriptions" in a very fluid way. If I have a friend that I know dyes her hair, and I see her
in a crowd and point her out using what I know to be her "natural" hair color, "There is my friend, the blond." And you see someone with red hair
my use of the category "blond" conveys no information you can use to tell who I am trying to describe. It becomes meaningless to you.
Categories exist to convey information. They are meaningless outside of their ability to convey information. If I tell you I have a popoki, what
does that mean to you? It means something in my hometown.
However unless we both agree that that category stands for things that share specifc traits, that word conveys no information.
When one insists that ones own definition of a category is the gospel, and cannot be changed to accommodate other traits, slightly different traits,
or a lack of traits, one begins to push the limits of language into uselessness as a tool for communication. Either everyone has to share your exact
and very precise understanding inherently, (because there is now no way to negotiate) or one begins to argue over meaningless differences, and there
is no "meeting of the minds." You begin to run into the problem of every individual thing being called its own name.
"Cats" are creatures that have four legs. Fur, two ears, a tail, teeth and claws, two eyes. Is a cat who has lost a leg still a cat? What part of
the definition of "cat" is the one that matters most? Its DNA? We cant see its DNA, so a cat that was transformed outwardly into a poodle but
retained its cat DNA would still be a cat, but would the word "cat" have any use in describing it to someone who didnt know that it has cat DNA?
Would it help them pick out that poodle looking thing from a group of other poodle looking things?
Language is an agreement. It is an agreement to use certain terms in certain ways to describe certain things. There is an understanding that the
description may be imperfect, and that one may have to draw from multiple categories to describe a thing to another. The category and the word itself
is meaningless unless the agreement exists. Even though you do not think you agree with some peoples definitions, I am willing to bet that if you
were in one of the scenarios I outlined above, you would find that you actually DO share enough of the agreement to understand. And in fact, I think
that if you held to the standards you THINK you believe in, I believe that you would find yourself suddenly in a very confusing world.