html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: True or False?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

True or False?

"I am my behavior."

Explain your reasoning. (1 paragraph, 10 pts)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

For instance, if I change the banner on my blog to read, "I need substantial doses of faith, love and examples of your goodness to set my attitude straight," I am indicating that I am insecure and needy but also passive aggressive in that I demand that you give me something that I really want for me (faith, love, etc) but couch it in terms that make it seem like you would be doing something abstractly good and laudable that would redound well to your own credit (helping to set my attitude straight.) I am thus both deluded and manipulative.

2:19 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

You know, changing the sub-heading makes that comment incoherent.

The old sub-heading was:

I need large doses of faith, love and examples of your goodness to set my attitude straight.

That was changed from the previous heading, which I took from the comments on my post on strength. It read (as closely as I can remember):

You need large doses of mocking, verbal cruelty and scientific evidence to set your attitude straight.

(I'll probably get rid of both of these soon, but as long as I leave the above comment, I should also give the context for it.)

2:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

False. The fact that I can make as my retort to the first comment my ability to change the banner whenever I want implies that my actions in general (not just when changing banners) cannot be taken to say anything whatsoever about me nor to bind me in any way nor to express anything at all meaningful about me. I am not my behavior because I can disown my behavior at any time by simply asserting that I could have behaved differently.

2:57 PM  
Anonymous Dagon said...

Back to "model of the individual", huh?

And since banner commentary seems to be the theme today: Delusion is a lot like self-manipulation (but be careful: both cause blindness!)

As to your true/false, it depends on who says it. There are two kinds of people: me and not-me. I am not my behavior, but every not-me clearly is his.

Alternately, you could stretch the word "behavior" to include currently-unobservable internal brain state, then it's pretty much true for me and everyone else.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I'm working on some new lines of thought, and I thought I'd throw a sticking point out there for y'all to resolve.

I wasn't thinking of unobservable brain-behavior. I was thinking of, like, what we do. I think you're right, that unobservable brain-behavior would hopelessly cloud the concept.

3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What can I use the points for?

3:17 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Towards your final grade.

3:19 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

From my vantage point, all the stuff that happens inside my mind that doesn't express itself in behavior is still a part of me. There are big differences in my experience on Earth and who I "am" depending upon what I was thinking and feeling throughout. From other people's vantage point, the only interface they have on who I am is through my behavior. That's all they have to go on, and so I am necessarily defined in their minds by their interpretation of my set of behaviors across the various circumstances they happened to see me in.

3:34 PM  
Anonymous SwissArmyD said...

I am Not Only my behavior... perhaps? My take is similar to Mark from there... It is true inasmuch as that is only what YOU will see of me. And what you see of me is only this moment and your expereince past. What I choose to do in the next moment shows what I will be then, but doesn't mean my internal dialog has to be consistant. and it doesn't mean I am not making a decision about an external force. I can be forced to do things I am not, but I will decide on that, based on who I am already.

There is the catch. My behavior can be forced by someone elses behavior, but it is still mine. Yet, is that what I am?

ooops, made myself dizzy spinnin' around. Guess I'll lay down and look at the clouds. They are who they are, and I can't force them to be different.

4:33 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

Could we get a definition of "behavior", please? Or is that part of the assignment?

4:33 PM  
Anonymous SwissArmyD said...

oh, and I liked the subtitle about blogging and laying down... or something...

because we can't prove that this entire life is not delusion, and manipulation has negative connotation, but running your fingers down someones neck? could also be called manipulation...

4:38 PM  
Blogger Megan said...


Like, what you do.

I haven't actually put together much coherent thought on this. I guess that makes most of the effort 'part of the assignment'.

You know, I'm sure thoughtful professionals have spent time on this. I just don't know who that would be.

5:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The meaning of behavior depends on intent...

5:46 PM  
Anonymous sheila said...

I had a friend say to me once, "I never believe what a person SAYS. I only believe what they DO."

Words are easy. But action? A bit harder.

I have found that to be true, with people in my life. It's behavior that tells the real truth.

6:01 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

I'm gonna have to plump for "false".

The body is a very important part of a person which is not behavior (of course, it's what you behave with, but I think body/behavior is an important distinction.)

I don't think one's thoughts would normally be considered "behavior" in the sense of interaction with the environment, and that's really what makes a person who they are internally.

As Mark and swissarmyd said, though, from an external viewpoint these distinctions aren't really important; "your behavior" is "yourself" to the people around you.

6:16 PM  
Anonymous freight train said...

"I am the garden, but I'm also the gardener." That is, it's a false dichotomy. My daily practice - my behavior - guides my habits, which shape my future behavior. Yet I can choose to re-train myself with different daily practices. My "self" and my "behavior" are in constant interplay. My behavior shapes my future self; my future self shapes my future behavior. No line can be drawn separating the two.

6:51 PM  
Anonymous freight train said...

To clarify slightly - I must be more than my behavior, because I can choose different behavior. If I were only my behavior, my habits would be all there was of my agency; and clearly that's not right. Yet my agency is shaped by right practice, and my practice makes me more the person I want to be, who can make better choices about what sort of person to want to be.

6:55 PM  
Blogger jens said...

I'm not being political here, but this really DOES depend on what your definition of "is" (to be) is.

x IS y can be interpreted in many ways. Take the Theseus paradox for example.

We use "to be" as a shorthand for a whole family of related concepts, and the word falls apart when you look at it too close.

7:21 PM  
Anonymous Dagon said...

You know, I'm sure thoughtful professionals have spent time on this. I just don't know who that would be.

Daniel Dennett, Stephen Pinker, and Doug Hofstadter are professionals who've written some very good books about what "I" means.

8:20 PM  
Anonymous Dagon said...

Freight train: I don't understand what makes you say you can choose different behavior. Different than what?

Behavior includes all interactions with anything outside yourself over the course of your life, right? How can you choose different behavior than your behavior?

8:24 PM  
Anonymous freight train said...

By behavior, I meant one's actions day-to-day. As you say, you can't at the end of your life look back and choose to have done different things; but you can today look to tomorrow and choose to take different actions than you took today - even though those you took today might make that choice harder.

So no, I wasn't talking about a life's whole sum of behavior.

9:16 PM  
Anonymous f said...

I would also suggest that behavior can include your interactions within yourself, as well as with things outside.

9:24 PM  
Anonymous freight train said...

whoops that was me.

9:25 PM  
Blogger Erik said...

True for everyone, including me.

What I do determines who I am. The fact that I may question my actions internally or consider options other than the one I eventually do only means I am uncertain of exactly who I am, or not confident that who I am is who I should be. If I frequently change the way I behave, It just means I am fickle, unorganized, or confused or unhappy with who I am.

10:55 PM  
Blogger billo said...

'Zeus wants to and does not want to be named'.

I don't think the dichotomy of true *or* false will ever be resolved.

With your permission, here's a para. that I particularly like:

"The being between birth and death scrawls -in matter and in events- a pattern which, taken as a whole, expresses his unique identity. This man is not a sealed personality moving through an alien environment. He is the sum total of all that he does and all that happens to him and all that comes within his range, spread out (from our point of view) in time and space, but a single, timeless fact in the mind of God. What we are and where we are cannot ultimately be divided...In the last resort, a man looks at the love or anger within him and says, So this is me. Looks at his withred hand or the garden he has planted and says, So this is me. Looks finally upon his enemy and his death and says, So this is me. And in acknowledging so much that is part of ourselves (since our boundaries extend to the furthest horizons...) we make an act of recognition which actualises what was inherent in us from the start...recognising our name-tag on everything that comes our way. But the part of us that is our destiny, streaming in upon us from the 'outside' events through the course of time can be recognised as belonging to our own particular pattern only when it has happened.
---Gai Eaton, King of the Castle.

11:09 PM  
Blogger John said...

True: "I am my behavior"

Behavior is a manifestation of karma. What you think, what you say, what you do -- all of these create good and bad effects. To see where you are today, look at the past. To see your future, look at today. What you think, say and do matter. Be mindful.

11:58 PM  
Blogger Capella said...

In the sense of "what is it that makes me recognizable to me as myself, unique from all others?", false; for that purpose, I am what I think and feel.

In the sense of "by what should others evaluate me, how should they determine what to think of me and how to respond to me," true. Feeling bad about doing crummy or cowardly or simply untrue things is universal and doesn't change the fact that one has done them.

8:07 AM  
Anonymous Peter said...

If I am my behavior, guess that means I look like this.

8:32 AM  
Blogger Marcus said...

You're not just your behavior, you are your potential. To behave differently. Someone who acts like an asshole but can be talked out of it is different than someone who it is useless to talk to.

Another way to put it: you're not just your current and past behavior, you are your potential future behavior.

Of course, wanting or hoping to behave differently is not the same as truly behaving differently.

10:31 PM  
Blogger Erik said...


Someone who acts like an asshole but can be talked out of it is different than someone who it is useless to talk to.

Don't you think the difference between them is that one of them always behaves like an asshole, and the other only behaves like an asshole sometimes?

Anyone can think about changing, but it is only when your behavior actually changes, that you demonstrate that anything is different.

2:52 PM  
Blogger guy said...

I think I am closest to Capella’s view on this question - I am my behaviour to others, but am more that my behaviour within myself. I frame this issue from an (ex-)Christian viewpoint: as a believer, many friends struggled with guilt with respect to what they thought about. My stock response was/is that you are responsible for your behaviour, but not your thoughts. From there I would hold that behaviour is what defines you, since it is what you have control to alter, and therefore the statement is true.

At a deeper level, I would consider dwelling on certain thoughts as both formative of behaviour, and behaviour in its own right. This is along Erik’s line of thought about internal reflection. Unfortunately this leads to a situation where “behaviour” is defined as any conscious effort on my part, which makes the original question close to redundant through tautology.

7:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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12:38 PM  

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