Why Are People Like This? (Introduction)

People perplex me. They’re all unique, but they also share some common patterns of behavior. Over the past few years, I’ve been studying people and their personalities in an effort to understand them better. Actually, I’ve been doing this most of my life, often seeing school primarily as a place to interact with people and only secondarily as a place to learn. I’m interested in fictions because of the characters involved, and I think that narratives of all kinds, including histories, are really just series of interactions between people.

The philosophical questions around people seem endless, and the meaning of the word “person” is at the center of many debates, such as those regarding abortion and euthanasia rights. I believe that to be considered a person, you need to be seen as such by other people. Dolphins might be people, but they’re not human. Human embryos might not be people, but they’re definitely human.

This raises some interesting questions. Where does the word “human” come from? Where does “person” come from? How have these words evolved over time? While there is a lack of consensus on these matters, common experience shows that there’s substantial disagreement on what or who qualifies as a person, as well as how valuable or disvaluable people are judged to be. Some people have very narrow concepts of personhood, while others have very wide ones.

I’ve decided to explain people in four main sub-series, each of which will contain several sub-posts. My plan is to post multiple editions of these posts, incorporating feedback and adding links to later posts into earlier ones.

The first sub-series will be about Personology, which is the science of people. I’ll introduce the foundations of Millon’s Bioevolutionary Model and then get into the Model itself. I’ll explore Millon’s categorization of personalities and make some attempts to expand upon it.

The second sub-series will be about Dissociation. I’ll start by clarifying the concept of dissociation and then move into a sub-sub-series on how it interplays with personality. From there, I’ll consider dissociation and identity, building up to a sub-sub-series on Dissociative Identity Disorder and personality.

The third sub-series will be about context. The first sub-sub-series will explore Personology’s place in theoretical science. While there aren’t many university departments devoted to Personology, to say there aren’t many devoted to studying people would be an understatement. The next sub-sub-series will be on practice and applications, demonstrating the real-world pay-off for all of this theoretical work. Following these two sub-sub-series about the context of Personology, I’ll write two more on the context of personality, exploring socialization and situation.

The last sub-series, and the one I’m most undecided about, will focus on either evil or good. I’m starting to think that I might be better off focusing on good, as many of the problems in the world stem from a lack of focus on being or doing good. Either way, I’ll start by working out the concept and then develop categories. Once I have a working concept of good or evil, I’ll move onto the role that situation has relative to personality in human behavior. Finally, I’ll talk about freedom.

My guiding motivation is simply to understand how people work. I’m a bit weird, and my mind gives me an experience of life that’s different from most people’s. Because I experience everything from my own perspective, my model of how minds operate is based on my own experiences. I find studying psychologists and philosophers interesting because I want to understand how they understand psychology and philosophy. Teaching philosophy has given me the opportunity to have serious discussions with a diverse range of people. 

But I also think there’s a practical aspect to all of this. Understanding people can help us to interact with them in more effective and fulfilling ways, whether that’s in our personal relationships or in our professional lives. I welcome feedback and discussion from all of you as well. 

I plan on editing most of the posts over time, and rewriting some as the project develops. Please comment any suggestions, objections, questions, thoughts, etc. you have. Also expect edits to the posts over time.

Next Post: Introducing Personology

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2 responses to “Why Are People Like This? (Introduction)”

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