What’s it mean to know someone?

Can one ever truly know a person?

I believe that the answer to the latter question is no. One cannot truly know a person because they will never be presented with all sides of that person. This begs to be asked: Is a person ever presented with all sides of themself? Can one ever truly know oneself until this does happen? One can never really know oneself or anyone else for that matter because to do so would be to know exactly how oneself or someone else would react in every single possible situation that said person would or had already encountered and to do so or even remember these situations would be impossible. Impossible, purely because one is never with another every second of every day lived. However, they are with themselves at every second of every day one might argue, so don’t they at least know themselves? The answer is still no. No, because they do not know how they will react to all future situations in life that they have not encountered thus far. For example, if someone walked into a store and proceeded to rob it, what would you do? You may try and answer this question quite truthfully, but you will never know how you would actually react until you encountered the specific situation. Secondly, there are an infinite amount of variations to this scenario. What if the store is located on the third floor, or perhaps underground? What if there are no windows? All windows? What if the store is filled with people, or perhaps it is nearly empty? How are you feeling on this particular day? Particularly heroic? Or, maybe you are without a job and severely depressed? You get the idea. It is impossible to consider, or more importantly to experience, every possible situation. So, how can one possibly know oneself if you do not know how you are going to react?

You might say, however, that knowing someone is not necessarily about how you or anyone else will react to a situation, since it is obviously impossible to know this. You might argue instead that knowing someone is another, more realistic form of knowledge (it is after all hard for most of us to know the outcome of all possible circumstances). Rather, to know someone is to know what they like, know who they truly are, to come to see their existence clearer than they do. Once again this question must be asked, based on this new definition, should not one have to know themselves before they can even be capable of knowing anyone else? I believe this answer to this question is surprisingly, still no. Humans are ever-changing. A single person, or a miniscule instance in the cosmos of the universe can alter one’s views, life path, and personality. Even with all of this possibility of change, there is a core to a person’s soul that I believe is never-changing. It is what makes a person who they are. It is their foundation. Yes, it can be buried, and trampled upon until it nears destruction, but this core to a person’s soul is always there. It can be broken so a person might seem to be forever a different person. If that changed person looked hard enough into themselves at a weak moment with clear eyes, they would be able to see this lie. If they were true to themselves and willing, that is.

To know someone then is to see the parts of them that they don’t see themselves.

According to this definition, it is possible to know someone else, but never yourself. Which does make sense, I think, because I am always surprising myself. I think one thing about myself, and then I’ll be encountered with a situation and I’ll do the exact opposite of what I thought I would do. This always keeps things interesting, and that’s the way it should be.

xxx Jedidiah

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