Is it possible to ever really 'know' someone?

William Faulkner

Woodpecker
Orthodox
I've been married for ten years now and just recently I came to the realization, almost like an epiphany, that I will never really truly know my wife. I guess one might say, well, that depends on your definition of 'to know.' This path, this life that we have chosen to share together through the passage of time and the unfolding of history and how we see it as we change and evolve, through pain and suffering, birth and death, love and anger, through out the years, through twists and turns, is so unbelievably beautiful yet so incredibly sad.
 

Mike_Key

Woodpecker
I don't really know what you are saying but it sounds good.

I guess one would ask of you @William Faulkner - "to know your wife in what way, to know how she is, or what she is capable of, to know how loyal she would be when the cards are down, to know what she is into when you are away, Etc.?"

Jordan Peterson has this commentary where he talks about cheating and how the floor drops beneath your feet when cheating is discovered. He states something along the lines of ...

Well, I won't mess it up, see below.

I don't agree with some of what he says in terms of knowing who you are. When you become a Christian if you get the right lessons, you can be mighty firm or solid in knowing who you are - many say "knowing who you are in Christ".

Back to the topic, it's interesting that Christ says that only with infidelity can/should there be divorce of a marriage. In today's world outside of small communities (actually, too, in antiquity or generally in the past, there were Metro area with trade, etc.) you meet people not intimate to your upbringing. I guess if you married a virgin from your small community, that ideally would allow you to live a married life of 60 years knowing that person truly.

In many ways this world is grit and garbage but Christ redeems.



John 3:16
 
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BasilSeal

Kingfisher
Trad Catholic
Gold Member
Hello Mr. Faulkner. First of all, big fan of your work. I agree with what you're saying. It is easier to ask the question (knowing yourself), whether anyone really fully knows "you". The fact that marriages are full of misunderstandings due to our inability to translate inner thoughts into words and actions that fully capture the self, is great evidence for this. My parents have been married for half a century. They still occasionally take their adult children aside to share that their spouse doesn't "get" them or a situation. It's evidence that all human relationships and love are imperfect and poor copies of the real thing.
 

fortyfive

Kingfisher
Other Christian
No, it's not possible. Only God really sees what's inside of the heart.
And especially with women, there is a high discrepancy between their minds, words, and deeds.
It's more useful for us to learn how to get along with wives and fellow humans than be bothered by undiscovered land, I think.

Also, when a man starts overthinking things too much, that's a sign he needs some physical work, exercise, or outdoor activity.
Intellectuals tend to neglect their body, and that's a mistake, in my opinion. Physical activity has a great effect on the mind.
 

William Faulkner

Woodpecker
Orthodox
I am overanalytical to a fault. It can be both a curse and a blessing. I'm not sure if this was an appropriate question/statement for this forum. I need to read my bible. I do agree with you @fortyfive that only God really sees what's inside of the heart. I agree with everything in your entire statement. Physical activity does have a great effect on the mind. I am definitely guilty of neglect at times but luckily I enjoy exercise enough to realize how important it is to maintain a healthy mind and body. Thanks @BasilSeal. I just happened to be reading Faulkner at the time I signed up for my account. At this point it does seem a bit ridiculous. This forum has been excellent over the past nearly 3 years of madness and I feel blessed to have stumbled upon it. Thanks to all of you. I by no means meant this to be a negative take on marriage.
 
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Pointy Elbows

Kingfisher
Orthodox
I had several moments in my marriage where I realized I had no idea who I was married to. I had no idea when I was being deceived or manipulated, just how gullible I was at the time. I could ask a question with a known truthful answer, be lied to, and see zero signs of deception. I was out of my league for much of my marriage. I have several buddies that admitted the same. That's no reason to stop loving someone without evidence of wrongdoing, but it is unnerving. Soldier on, but be a little wiser.
 

Uprising

Sparrow
Trad Catholic
I am overanalytical to a fault. It can be both a curse and a blessing. I'm not sure if this was an appropriate question/statement for this forum. I need to read my bible. I do agree with you @fortyfive that only God really sees what's inside of the heart. I agree with everything in your entire statement. Physical activity does have a great effect on the mind. I am definitely guilty of neglect at times but luckily I enjoy exercise enough to realize how important it is to maintain a healthy mind and body. Thanks @BasilSeal. I just happened to be reading Faulkner at the time I signed up for my account. At this point it does seem a bit ridiculous. This forum has been excellent over the past nearly 3 years of madness and I feel blessed to have stumbled upon it. Thanks to all of you. I by no means meant this to be a negative take on marriage.
It's actually a common problem in philosophy called the philosophical zombie, and essentially asserts that there is no way we can understand the inner workings of another human. Other humans could simply be reacting to stimuli in a way that "showed" consciousness without actually being conscious, and we would have no way of knowing. The inner mental states of humans almost certainly differs widely and there may not be any similarities between things like how we perceive colour, or approach problems, or synthesize information. In that sense, yes, we will never truly understand or know another person's mental functioning in the same manner that we know our own. However, we must also remember that we are all children of God, and consciousness is a gift that comes from God and the way we know God, which is why it's so important to improve our higher faculties, because as we become closer to God, we become closer to others.
 

Mike_Key

Woodpecker
I had several moments in my marriage where I realized I had no idea who I was married to. I had no idea when I was being deceived or manipulated, just how gullible I was at the time. I could ask a question with a known truthful answer, be lied to, and see zero signs of deception. I was out of my league for much of my marriage. I have several buddies that admitted the same. That's no reason to stop loving someone without evidence of wrongdoing, but it is unnerving. Soldier on, but be a little wiser.
It's actually a common problem in philosophy called the philosophical zombie, and essentially asserts that there is no way we can understand the inner workings of another human. Other humans could simply be reacting to stimuli in a way that "showed" consciousness without actually being conscious, and we would have no way of knowing. The inner mental states of humans almost certainly differs widely and there may not be any similarities between things like how we perceive colour, or approach problems, or synthesize information. In that sense, yes, we will never truly understand or know another person's mental functioning in the same manner that we know our own. However, we must also remember that we are all children of God, and consciousness is a gift that comes from God and the way we know God, which is why it's so important to improve our higher faculties, because as we become closer to God, we become closer to others.

Interesting perspectives ... I want to look into this idea of "philosophical zombie".

As for being deceived - knowing an answer, being lied to and seeing zero signs of deception; I would suggest that we be cautious with what "we think we know".

I had an experience recently where I had a half-truth of an answer and when I asked for the response to an important question from a particular group of people (there was one key person of the bunch - of course) they all told me the negative, the denial. I fasted and prayed and the Lord in Heaven literally gave me the answer on paper. I had to go through some old paper-work to find a clue coupled with, literally, a memory recollection from the past, from the year 2001 (that was spiritual, I could not have thought of that on my own, it was answered prayer). Those two pieces of information came together to prove that 3 people were not lying to me.

Now, this question and new answer that I speak of - was yet bothersome, very much so. Although it was a few degrees away from what I thought to be true; which would have been very disconcerting. My belief in a lie for 7 years affected some people, plans and cross-country travel. It was a thing to witness - no one knows the extent of what I went through, but they did feel the reverberations and the slights, etc. and they had not clue as to why this was happening. They still don't know.

Now, I feel like some spiritual warfare happened here too. Back in the year 2001, I could have sworn that I heard the "key person" say something. Years later they tell me, "I never said that." Also, I felt like two other distant individuals also said something to me - creating a maelstrom, if you will, of emotions, false beliefs and chaos, really.

Could the devil or a demon have turned my ears "on" like flipping a switch to hear something different than what was being spoken? The "key person's" actual words were muted and the demon's voice spoke a half-truth and was amplified. I would say yes. Crazier things have happened. Also, the key person's ears would not have heard the demon's voice that was essentially mimicking their exact tone, quality, intonation, etc.

It may have been difficult to follow that tale, but imagine how it was for me actually living it, it was terrible.

As for knowing someone, people show you who they are. Sometimes we don't want to listen or pick up on cues. Although I have heard people that work in ministry say that "you don't know someone unless you live with them - even in that lot, you may need to prod for answers."

I've also heard the advice of "walk away from the devil", even if that devil is a family member. A difficult thing to do, but your mental health may be at stake.

John 3:16
 
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William Faulkner

Woodpecker
Orthodox
@Uprising This problem, this 'thought game'...the philosophical zombie is quite fascinating. A metaphysical mind game. "Also as a description of the reality of our present-day, to a certain extent post-historical and self-destructive Western civilisation."

"The purpose of this somewhat eerie thought game is a surprisingly serious one that runs deep into the realm of Christian theology. It is no less than an attempt to prove that we must presuppose not only the concept but also the reality of the ‘soul’ in order to understand at all what makes a human being a ‘real’ human being and not just a kind of robot, a “philosophical zombie.” Only if we assume that man, even beyond his biologically as well as educationally conditioned reflexes and the mechanics of his neuronal activities, possesses a superior, transcendent, eternal component that constitutes his true and genuine existence, is it possible to separate man from the “zombie” and to legitimise his claim to freedom and dignity".

"Many people do indeed seem to have lost, within a few generations, that indeterminable but fundamental “something” that actually makes them Westerners."

All these years I never realized that there was two spellings for the word civilization/civilisation.

Cole_Thomas_The_Course_of_Empire_Destruction_1836-aspect-ratio-16-9.jpeg
 
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TheosisSeeker

Woodpecker
Orthodox Catechumen
I had several moments in my marriage where I realized I had no idea who I was married to. I had no idea when I was being deceived or manipulated, just how gullible I was at the time. I could ask a question with a known truthful answer, be lied to, and see zero signs of deception. I was out of my league for much of my marriage. I have several buddies that admitted the same. That's no reason to stop loving someone without evidence of wrongdoing, but it is unnerving. Soldier on, but be a little wiser.

Not to derail but I dont think I can ever be in a marriage like this. Trust is the foundation.
 

bucky

Hummingbird
Other Christian
Back to the topic, it's interesting that Christ says that only with infidelity can/should there be divorce of a marriage.
Where does Christ say this? I'm not saying he doesn't, I just don't remember it. My wife is Catholic, and the Catholic church teaches that you should solider on even if your spouse is unfaithful. There is no concept of divorce in the Catholic Church and you won't get an annulment for infidelity, at least as far as I know.

This was one of the things I struggled with before marrying my wife. It's not that I thought she'd ever be unfaithful, but the idea that I'd be expected to stick around if it ever happened seemed like a bit much. Fortunately, I told the priest who married us that I couldn't promise that and he ended up still agreeing to let us marry in the Church.

Verging back on topic, I feel like I know my wife and children and have known several other people well. The original post seems to come from a place of depression and existential angst to me. Of course you can't really know someone on the level God can, where you can read their thoughts and memories and understand their emotions perfectly, but you can know people to the extent that it's possible for human beings and this should be enough. Worrying about whether I can "really know" other people is the kind of thing I'd have thought about years ago when I was an agnostic and suffered from severe depression, before I met my wife and became a believer again.
 

Mike_Key

Woodpecker
Where does Christ say this? I'm not saying he doesn't, I just don't remember it. My wife is Catholic, and the Catholic church teaches that you should solider on even if your spouse is unfaithful. There is no concept of divorce in the Catholic Church and you won't get an annulment for infidelity, at least as far as I know.

This was one of the things I struggled with before marrying my wife. It's not that I thought she'd ever be unfaithful, but the idea that I'd be expected to stick around if it ever happened seemed like a bit much. Fortunately, I told the priest who married us that I couldn't promise that and he ended up still agreeing to let us marry in the Church.

Verging back on topic, I feel like I know my wife and children and have known several other people well. The original post seems to come from a place of depression and existential angst to me. Of course you can't really know someone on the level God can, where you can read their thoughts and memories and understand their emotions perfectly, but you can know people to the extent that it's possible for human beings and this should be enough. Worrying about whether I can "really know" other people is the kind of thing I'd have thought about years ago when I was an agnostic and suffered from severe depression, before I met my wife and became a believer again.
Matt 5:31 ."... But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, ... "

As I heard it put, the teaching was about divorcing your wife treacherously and I suppose - not to do that - this was when the Pharisees asked Jesus questions but later the disciples asked him to review that topic.

Edit:
The Catholic church has their sacraments and strict legal rules. In some ways good and others bad.

John 3:16
 
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bucky

Hummingbird
Other Christian
Matt 5:31 ."... But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, ... "

As I heard it put, the teaching was about divorcing your wife treacherously and I suppose - not to do that - this was when the Pharisees asked Jesus questions but later the disciples asked him to review that topic.

Edit:
The Catholic church has their sacraments and strict legal rules. In some ways good and others bad.

John 3:16
Thanks. I've been trying to finish the entire Old Testament for the first time in my life for quite some time now, so it's been a while since I've read the gospels and I'm starting to forget details like that.
 

fortyfive

Kingfisher
Other Christian
I think, one of the most valuable things a man can learn is a way to manage his mind.
As the Apostle Paul says "Everything is permissible for me, but not all things are beneficial. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything [and brought under its power, allowing it to control me]." 1 Corinthians 6:12 Amplified Bible

There were times when I didn't control my mind. I let thoughts wander freely in my mind and thought about anything without restraint.
I thought, well, why worry, it's just thoughts, no harm, right?
Of course, I was very wrong. No action is without consequences.

The unbound thinking brought me bad feelings and flawed decisions too.
What we think causes how we feel.

The same is with the body. If I stop to control my body, what happens? A lot of destructive things, like adultery, gluttony, and so on. And that ultimately hurts my body.

No. I will not be enslaved by anything. My mind and my body will serve God and me, not otherwise.
 

William Faulkner

Woodpecker
Orthodox
@bucky I don't see this as coming from a place of depression or existential angst. I was asking what must seem like more of a philosophical question, although apparently the purpose of the philosophical monster runs deep into the realm of Christian theology.

@fortyfive What we think definitely causes how we feel. How exactly does one censor the mind?

What are your takes on suffering? It is fundamental to our faith. Is it not?

As Orthodox Christians we believe that if we wish to live a good life in Jesus Christ, we will be persecuted and suffer. The Book of Acts (5:41) tells us "... they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name." Those who suffer and keep Christ close in praise receive His Grace and their sufferings are directed to God's glory. The first epistle of Peter tells us:

"Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same thought, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of time in the flesh no longer by human passions, but by the will of God." (I Peter 4:1-2)​


"The world is in bondage to the devil which St. Paul calls "groaning in travail" (Rom. 8:22)
 
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fortyfive

Kingfisher
Other Christian
What we think definitely causes how we feel. How exactly does one censor the mind?
I have experienced that there is definitely a way, how a man can change his patterns of thinking permanently. Thinking is a skill, like any other.
Let's say, you are an average driver and a poor swimmer. What would happen if you spend enough time driving with a good race driver and in the pool with an Olympic swimmer?
Your driving and swimming skills greatly improve. Forever.
For the rest of your life, you will be more successful and happier as a driver and swimmer.
And with thinking it is the same. We can learn and change how we perceive things (especially negative), how to process them, and how to overcome them. Our whole attitude and thinking will change.
This is a huge subject to study and I rather recommend what affects me most intellectually. Except for Bible, of course.

I have read many good books touching on this topic, but if I should name one, it will be Seligman's concept of Learned optimism. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learned_optimism
I enjoyed reading that book because it's well written, and the author also recognizes the value of believing in God, which is rare among mostly liberal psychologists.

What are your takes on suffering? It is fundamental to our faith. Is it not?
Just today, I read We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
9 persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 2 Corinthians 4:8-9


I like these words. Apostle Paul acknowledges widespread adversity in this world, but he continues fighting despite it. He never gave up.

My opinion is: a man in a time of suffering should still be seeking God's help, admits if suffering was self-inflicted, repent, and not accuse God of causing it. Yes, God sometimes allows things that hurt, but I would definitely avoid judging His actions.

For the Lord disciplines and corrects those whom He loves,
And He punishes every son whom He receives and welcomes [to His heart].” Heb.12.6,Heb.12.7
 

William Faulkner

Woodpecker
Orthodox
@fortyfive Yes we mustn't judge God's actions. Who am I to do so? I certainly wouldn't. Have you ever read B.F. Skinner's theory of Operant Conditioning? Operant Conditioning is a theory of learning in behavioral psychology which emphasizes the role of reinforcement in conditioning. I will take a look at Learned Optimism by this, ...this Seligman fellow that you mention. Thanks.


Fr. Seraphim Rose on why men learn through pain and suffering, and not through pleasure and happiness. -

“Why do men learn through pain and suffering, and not through pleasure and happiness? Very simply, because pleasure and happiness accustom one to satisfaction with the things given in this world, whereas pain and suffering drive one to seek a more profound happiness beyond the limitations of this world. I am at this moment in some pain, and I call on the Name of Jesus—not necessarily to relieve the pain, but that Jesus, in Whom alone we may transcend this world, may be with me during it, and His will be done in me. But in pleasure I do not call on Him; I am content then with what I have, and I think I need no more. And why is a philosophy of pleasure untenable?—because pleasure is impermanent and unreliable, and pain is inevitable. In pain and suffering Christ speaks to us, and thus God is kind to give them to us, yes, and evil too—for in all of these we glimpse something of what must lie beyond, if there really exists what our hearts most deeply desire.”
 

fortyfive

Kingfisher
Other Christian
I know about Skinner. I think his work is mentioned even in that Seligman's book. There is a good part about the history of psychology, and how dogmatic and unable to accept new concepts this field could be.
And that sounds surprising, considering how wise and perceptive these doctors view themselves.
Knowing psychology is useful, but it is not a panacea. It's just a tool.
Most of these people even don't know about God's existence, that blind they are.
 
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