The Instigator
Con (against)
0 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
22 Points

No-one can understand someone better than the person him/herself

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Post Voting Period
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after 4 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/7/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,008 times Debate No: 25310
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (46)
Votes (4)




First round is definitions, boundaries and general case of proposition. I expect all defintions sourced and expect the term 'understand' to be specifically defined to minute detail.

All boundaries of debate must be justified.


I accept. I define the resolution as such:

can: the ability to or capacity to fulfil an action; the probability, plausibility or probability of an event[1]. e.g. "John can become a movie star if he puts his mind to it, becomes good looking, gains a better memory and stops being a fish"; "Can, can you do the can-can, can you do the can-can, can ya can ya can ya can ya" ; "Can you stop punching me?"; or to quote Edgar Albert Guest:

"Can't is the worst word that's written or spoken;
Doing more harm here than slander and lies;
On it is many a strong spirit broken,
And with it many a good purpose dies.
It springs from the lips of the thoughtless each morning
And robs us of courage we need through the day:
It rings in our ears like a timely-sent warning
And laughs when we falter and fall by the way.

Can't is the father of feeble endeavor,
The parent of terror and half-hearted work;
It weakens the efforts of artisans clever,
And makes of the toiler an indolent shirk.
It poisons the soul of the man with a vision,
It stifles in infancy many a plan;
It greets honest toiling with open derision
And mocks at the hopes and the dreams of a man.

Can't is a word none should speak without blushing;
To utter it should be a symbol of shame;
Ambition and courage it daily is crushing;
It blights a man's purpose and shortens his aim.
Despise it with all of your hatred of error;
Refuse it the lodgment it seeks in your brain;
Arm against it as a creature of terror,
And all that you dream of you some day shall gain.

Can't is the word that is foe to ambition,
An enemy ambushed to shatter your will;
Its prey is forever the man with a mission
And bows but to courage and patience and skill.
Hate it, with hatred that's deep and undying,
For once it is welcomed 'twill break any man;
Whatever the goal you are seeking, keep trying
And answer this demon by saying: "I can.""

one: an individual or person of previous or later reference, the subject predicated on this article, or the self. For example "If one were to shoot you, one would probably be looked in prison"

orone:no person; not a single person[2]

person: a human being regarded as an individual subject to the Human Rights conventions. This is the "average" person, and not a magic kind of person that is one in 3.252 billion.

understand:Understanding(also calledintellection) is apsychologicalprocessrelated to an abstract or physical object, such as aperson, situation, ormessagewhereby one is able to think about it and useconceptsto deal adequately with that object. Understanding is a relation between the knower and an object of understanding. Understanding implies abilities and dispositions with respect to an object of knowledge sufficient to support intelligent behavior.
However:If we use the termconceptas above, the question then arises as to what is a concept? Is it anabstractthing? Is it abrainpattern or arule? Whatever definition is proposed, we can still ask how it is that we understand the thing that is featured in the definition: we can never satisfactorily define aconcept, still less use it to explain understanding. It may be more convenient to use an operational orbehaviouraldefinition, that is, to say that "somebody who reacts appropriately toxunderstandsx". For example, one understandsSwahiliif one correctly obeys commands given in that language. This approach, however, may not provide an adequate definition. A computer can easily be programmed to react appropriately to commands, but there is a disagreement as to whether or not the computerunderstandsthe language.
According tosocionicsresearcherRostislav Persion:
In thecognitivemodel presented byMBTI, the process of introvertedthinking(Ti) is thought to represent understanding through cause and effect relationships or correlations. One can construct a model of a system by observing correlations between all the relevant properties (e.g. The output of aNAND gaterelative to its inputs). This allows the person to generate truths about the system and then to apply the model to demonstrate his or her understanding. A mechanic for example may randomly, or algorithmically probe the inputs and outputs of ablack boxto understand the internal components through the use of induction.INTP,ISTP,ESTP, andENTPall use Ti and are usually the best of the 16 types at understanding their material environment in a bottom-up manner. These types may enjoymechanicsand digitalelectronicsbecause of the 1 to 1 correlation between cause and effect relationships in these fields. Understanding is not limited to these types however as other types demonstrate an identical process, although in other planes of reality; ie. Social, Theological and Aesthetic. A potential reason for the association of understanding with the former personality types is due to a social phenomenon for asymmetrical distribution of gratification. In the field ofengineering, engineers probe or study the inputs and outputs of components to understand their functionality. These components are then combined based on their functionality (similar tocomputer programming) to create a larger, more complex system. This is the reason why engineers attempt to subdivide ideas as deep as possible to obtain the lowest level of knowledge. This makes their models more detailed and flexible. It may be useful to know the formulas that govern an ideal gas, but to visualise the gas as being made up of small moving particles, which are in turn made up of even smaller particles, is true understanding. People who are understanding (through the use of Ti) usually value objects and people based on usefulness, as opposed to the people who useextroverted thinking(Te) who view people or things as having a worth. In order to test one's understanding it is necessary to present a question that forces the individual to demonstrate the possession of a model, derived from observable examples of that model's production or potential production (in the case that such a model did not exist beforehand). Rote memorization can present an illusion of understanding, however when other questions are presented with modified attributes within the query, the individual cannot create a solution due to a lack of a deeper representation of reality.
Another significantpoint of view holds that knowledge is the simple awareness of bits of information. Understanding is the awareness of the connection between the individual pieces of this information. It is understanding which allows knowledge to be put to use. Therefore, understanding represents a deeper level than simple knowledge.
Gregory Chaitin, a noted computer scientist, propounds a view that comprehension is a kind of data compression.In his essay "The Limits of Reason", he argues thatunderstandingsomething means being able to figure out a simple set of rules that explains it. For example, weunderstandwhy day and night exist because we have a simple model—the rotation of the earth—that explains a tremendous amount of data—changes in brightness, temperature, and atmospheric composition of the earth. We havecompresseda large amount of information by using a simple model that predicts it. Similarly, weunderstandthe number 0.33333... by thinking of it as one-third. The first way of representing the number requires an infinite amount of memory; but the second way can produce all the data of the first representation, but uses much less information. Chaitin argues thatcomprehensionis this ability to compress data.[3]
My general argument shall be that all knowledge one can gleam from another person can be learnt through psychological techniques and examination. Further, the average person can learn of all these psychological techniques. They are also privy to certainty regarding their own motivations, unlike others which have to guess. Thus, the individual themselfcanbe more certain, and thus know more, than anyone else regarding themselves.

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Debate Round No. 1


The intuition that we have privileged and unrestricted access to ourselves – that we inevitably know who we are, how we feel, what we do, and what we think – is very compelling. Here, we review three types of evidence about the accuracy of self-perceptions of personality and conclude that the glass is neither full nor empty. First, studies comparing self-perceptions of personality to objective criteria suggest that self-perceptions are at least tethered to reality – people are not completely clueless about how they behave, but they are also far from perfect. Second, studies examining how well people’s self-perceptions agree with others’ perceptions of them suggest that people’s self-views are not completely out of synch with how they are seen by those who know them best, but they are also far from identical. Third, studies examining whether people know the impressions they make on others suggest that people do have some glimmer of insight into the fact that others see them differently than they see themselves but there is still a great deal people do not know about how others see them. The findings from all three approaches point to the conclusion that self-knowledge exists but leaves something to be desired. The status of people’s self-knowledge about their own personality has vast implications both for our conception of ourselves as rational agents and for the methods of psychological inquiry.

At times I fancy, Socrates, that anybody can know himself; at other times the task appears to be very difficult. – Alcibiades

How clearly can we see ourselves? Are we our own best experts? The intuition that we have privileged and unrestricted access to ourselves – that we inevitably know who we
are, how we feel, what we do, and what we think – is very compelling. After all, who knows better what it’s like to be you than you do? Certainly, our perceptions of our
own personality are vivid, but how accurate are they? Do we know, better than anybody else, what we are like?

The question of whether we know ourselves better than anybody else knows us has been a prominent theme in mainstream culture, including in music (‘I’ll be your mirror⁄Reflect what you are ⁄In case you don’t know’; Velvet Underground, 1996), literature (‘I know you, buddy boy, know you better than you know your own self’; Nobody’s Fool, Richard Russo, 1994, p. 488), and film (‘No, I don’t think you’re paranoid. I think you’re the opposite of a paranoid. I think you walk around with the insane delusion that people like you.’; Deconstructing Harry, Woody Allen, 1996). This preoccupation with self-knowledge (or lack thereof) is not new, indeed it has been around as long as history itself. Starting with the Oracle at Delphi, self-knowledge has been a documented interest of philosophers, including such exalted thinkers as Socrates, Plato, Descartes, Hume, and Nietzsche. Self-knowledge has also been a major theme in popular books, including the Dalai Lama’s How to See Yourself as You Really Are (2006). Finally, self-knowledge themes are still prominent in the scholarly writings of contemporary philosophers (e.g., Doris, Social and Personality Psychology Compass 4/8 (2010): 605–620, 10.1111/j.1751-9004.2010.00280.x ª 2010 The Authors Journal Compilation ª 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltdforthcoming; Haybron, 2008; Mele, 2001; Schwitzgebel, 2008; Shoemaker, 1996; Tiberius, 2008). Despite millennia of concerted attention, however, the question remains: How well do people know themselves?

To psychologists this question is, at heart, an empirical one. Indeed, Freud saw as a major aim of psychological research ‘to prove that the ego is not master in its own house’,
and with not a little megalomania of his own, described this as the ‘third and most wounding blow’ to human megalomania, after Copernicus’s discovery that our planet is not at the center of the universe and Darwin’s discovery that our species is descended from other animals (1966; p. 353). Since then, many psychologists have shared Freud’s skepticism about people’s capacity for self-knowledge. For example, behaviorists have been notoriously dismissive of people’s capacity for self-insight, Nisbett and Wilson (1977) famously asserted that people are ‘telling more than they can know’ about themselves, and the literature on positive illusions and self-enhancement paints people as blissfully ignorant about their own personality traits (Brown & Dutton, 1995; Taylor & Brown, 1988).

So, has psychology shown that people do not know themselves? Not exactly. To judge from our methods, the field of social and personality psychology still has plenty of faith
in self-perceptions. As Swann and Pelham point out, ‘if we are to question the selfreports of participants, much, if not most, of results of research on the self becomes suspect’. (Swann & Pelham, 2002; p. 228). Indeed, the vast majority of all social and personality research relies on self-reports (Gosling, Vazire, Srivastava, & John, 2004; Vazire, 2006) and thus would be called into question if we were to conclude that people lack self-insight. As one of us was once admonished by the ubiquitous Reviewer A, ‘the best criterion for a target’s personality is his or her self-ratings […] Otherwise, the whole enterprise of personality assessment seriously needs to re-think itself’ (personal communication, 2003). Which is the correct view? Are people hopelessly deluded about themselves, or can we trust people’s self-perceptions of their personality to be an accurate reflection of what they are like? In this review, we examine the evidence for one particular type of self-knowledge: people’s knowledge of their own personality. Clearly, this is only one of several types of self-knowledge (Wilson, 2002; Wilson & Dunn, 2004); we could also ask whether people are aware of their reasons or motives (Thrash, Elliot, & Schultheiss, 2007), mental states (Dijksterhuis & Nordgren, 2006), or emotions (Wilson & Gilbert, 2005). For a broader review of self-knowledge, we recommend Wilson’s (2009) excellent paper. Here, we focus our attention on self-knowledge of personality.



My opponent's entire argument is plagiarised. It is sourced here:

The paper he is sourcing is "SelfKnowledge of Personality: Do People Know Themselves?" also viewable here:

Also, none of that is relevant to my case, and is just misrepresenting my own.

As a result, I shall simply point you back to my argument plan.

"My general argument shall be that all knowledge one can gleam from another person can be learnt through psychological techniques and examination. Further, the average person can learn of all these psychological techniques. They are also privy to certainty regarding their own motivations, unlike others which have to guess. Thus, the individual themselfcanbe more certain, and thus know more, than anyone else regarding themselves."

But quite simply my opponent has refused to debate me, and instead has stolen someone else's work and passed it off as his own. As such, I request a vote PRO regardless of the rest of the debate in both source and conduct, at the very least.
Debate Round No. 2


sn't it the case that in the process of understanding yourself, you are understanding yourself as you imagine that you were as opposed to how you may have otherwise been and, more importantly, how you are in the present? The process of attempting to understand yourself would also need to be understood in order for you to fully understand yourself (example: you would need to understand why you want to understand yourself). So you can go into a state of reflective consciousness, but you cannot go beyond that. In the process of going into the reflective consciousness, you cease to see things as they would be otherwise. For example: when you are happy, you don't really think about it. Someone comes along and asks you how you are, and you may tell them that you are happy, but at the moment when you are trying to determine what you are, you are not longer happy. You are instead someone attempting to determine what you are, at least for that moment, and because of this you are no longer what you were previously.

An intellectual understanding can never be tantamount to an experiential understanding. You need both to understand yourself, but you cannot ever have them at the same time.

If we are always having experiences and processing them, getting a different or growing and changing perspective on life, ourselves, others, is there a fixed self to understand? Or just a capacity to understand oneself in this moment now?

Perhaps a new and different understanding is also possible in the future, if one does not freeze a certain understanding and carry it forward as a fixed way of being? We are going to have new experiences into the future, we may think we can predict what we'd do, based on our current self understanding, yet we can also learn at these times, that we surprised ourselves and found out something new about ourselves that we had not understood before?

Perhaps we can also gain a new perspective and review ourselves in the past and have a new, and maybe even better, understanding of who we were in the past from this new perspective?

I think most people understand themselves, when the self is taken to be the illusion that they accept as their selves. They generally know their likes and dislikes, basic temperaments, fears, strengths and weaknesses because knowledge of these things is accessible to consciousness. But since the self arises from changes in polarization across membranes in neural networks then it has to be an illusion, there is no substance called self in the brain. If people don't understand that then I guess they don't actually understand what they are, they understand only the end results of subconscious neural processing, as these results relate to the framework of identity they have come to accept as their selves. Are the neural networks in the brain of a man that underlie the thought that women are inferior to men at math part of the self if the man consciously rejects the thought? The networks aren't qualitatively different from the networks that reject the thought. Why is one network part of the self and the other not? It could only be the case if "self" is accepted as only the activity that occurs in certain regions of the frontal lobes at any given time.

Personally, the five factor model of personality and the dimensional correlates in the brain (limbic for neuroticism, reward circuitry for extroversion) have helped me to understand myself better than any pseudoscientifically proposed subconscious narrative ever could.


This time the whole argument has been lifted from here ( and yet still hasn't responded to my case. In fact, it doesn't even affirm anything.
Debate Round No. 3


Are you a heavy porn user who, during lovemaking, cannot consistently produce/sustain an erection or penetrate a real partner, feel much sensation, or climax (without difficulty)? If your doctor has ruled out organic causes for your woes, he/she is likely to hand you a trial pack of Viagra and refer you to counseling for your “sexual issues.” The medical assumption is that your issue is psychological (performance anxiety) rather than physiological. After all, if you can get it up for porn, your penile health is fine.

Growing evidence suggests that the problem is indeed in your head, not your penis, but that it is primarily physical. Specifically, overstimulation has produced plastic changes in your brain, which make you less responsive to pleasure—and yet hyper-responsive to Internet porn. These addiction-related changes are called desensitization and sensitization, respectively. Together, they explain why porn does the job and your hot babe doesn’t.

Before you panic, know that these brain changes appear to be reversible—most easily in guys who wired to real sex before highspeed Internet arrived. Guys who stop masturbating to porn generally regain their responsiveness during sex within a few months (often after a nasty withdrawal and a disconcerting, temporary absence of libido):

(Age 30, 4 months) From the reboot standpoint, I’m doing spectacular! Any time my girlfriend and I make out, caress etc., I get rock hard and it lasts. I really just don’t worry about penile function anymore.

If performance problems are plaguing you, take this simple test. Do your problems appear to be porn-related? Keep reading to learn more about the changes going on in your brain. Otherwise, you may erroneously conclude that if you can climax to porn, you don’t have a problem, and that the problem lies in your alcohol use or your partner’s behavior or looks, or solely in your anxious feelings. You may spend thousands of dollars on counseling, or resort to costly, and increasingly ineffective, sexual enhancement drugs—and still be left with your problem:

I never had a problem getting hard for porn, but when it came to the real thing, I started taking Cialis. Over time, I took more, and even then there were times when it would only partly work. WTH? Yet I could still get hard to porn.

Why is Mr. Happy ignoring hotties?

With Internet porn it’s easy to overstimulate your brain. Each search, each novel image, each surprising visual, each new genre, and sexual arousal itself all release dopamine in your reward circuitry. Dopamine is the gas that powers the reward circuitry and it equates with desire, anticipation, cravings, and wanting something in particular.

Unfortunately, too much stimulation causes some brains to protect themselves by decreasing their sensitivity to dopamine, and thus to pleasure, for a while. Obviously, if your brain does this and you are using porn frequently and heavily, your brain doesn’t ever have a chance to return to normal sensitivity. You may find yourself clicking to more extreme material to arouse your reward circuitry’s numbed pleasure center.

Over time, your brain adapts to this situation with measurable decreases in dopamine signaling. You want more, but experience decreasing satisfaction. This is an addiction process calleddesensitization. (See Intoxicating Behaviors: 300 Vaginas = A Lot of Dopamine.) Recent research confirms it occurs in behavioral addictions such as gambling, food, video gaming, and Internet addiction (which includes cyber erotica addiction). When desensitized, you experience a numbed response to all so called “natural rewards”—including sex with hotties.

Your reward circuitry is the barometer for “How exciting is this?” so if dopamine signaling (desire) is low, erections are sluggish. Erections only arise when dopamine signals flow from the reward circuitry to the hypothalamus.



Plagiarised from here:

And does not affect my case, still.
Debate Round No. 4


Yes, okay whatever. If you read my round 2 and round 3 debates ignoring how I got them, you'd realise I am right. But it seems that on this site the quality of debate is never an issue in the votes, only how the person got them.


Quality of debate is 100% essential and dictates how one votes. But the quality is the quality of your argument. You don't seem to understand what the word "your" means. It means not somebody else's work. That makes it not your argument. Further, most of what you put is completely irrelevant to the debate itself. For no reason, you brought up internet porn. The quality of discussion on banning of pornography of that article is high, but on the topic, it is 100% irrelevant.

Once you present your own arguments, you start doing well. You are not right, because you have not said anything. Other people have said something, you have copied what they put with no actual reading of the information, apparently. And if we read Round 3, we see a lot of it actually disproves your case, not proves it. I'd strongly reccomend re-reading what someone else has written, because what you've put makes little sense in most cases.

In short, vote PRO.
Debate Round No. 5
46 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by MaestroEvans 5 years ago
He's doing better in the debate he's having with me.
Posted by Stephen_Hawkins 5 years ago
She's into anal? Sounds like a sucessful upbringing to me...
Posted by Ramsterlord 5 years ago
Not true, some people act out of insecurities and fucked up trauma from childhood. My ex was dating older men until she met me, and it was because her father died and she had father issues, she dated these older men to fill the void, now shes into anal
Posted by RyuuKyuzo 5 years ago
"If you read my round 2 and round 3 debates ignoring how I got them, you'd realise I am right."

That's not going to fly with me, RationalMadman. Even if you were right, being so at the cost of intellectual honesty automatically makes yo the loser in my books. Why? Because, if you don't make your own arguments, it looks like you can't. If you can't make your own arguments, it looks like you don't understand the argument. If you don't understand the arguments you, yourself, are presenting, how do you expect any of us to be convinced of your case?

It shouldn't be your opponent's job to keep track of your sources for you, but since you've made it as such I've decided to make an example out of you by giving all 7 points to Pro -- and each point is completely justified.
Posted by QuantumOverlord 5 years ago
It seems clear that 'rationalmadman' CON is not only a plagiarist but somewhat a troll. He is reduced to copying content from internet forums, and writing (I assume copying) a response containing a large amount of nudity which is completely inappropriate. This guy is in the 97th percentile for debating and has won about half of his debates. If his performance in this debate is anything to go by we can infer he is a cheat and should be banned from DDOG.
Posted by Stephen_Hawkins 5 years ago
I hope that's a detailed enough description of the definition of "understanding" in minute detail. I'll go further if needs be: I've found the original essay that was roughly lifted from.
Posted by RationalMadman 5 years ago
Posted by Mestari 5 years ago
Nevermind, it is next weekend. I'll have time for this debate.
Posted by Mestari 5 years ago
I'm sorry Madman but I was just informed that I have an event to attend this weekend and I have a great deal of preparation to do before then, so I am going to let this debate time out. If you would like to debate in a week I will gladly oblige.
Posted by Manbearpanda 5 years ago
'Ninjas' is a verb, not a noun.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by famer 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: No plagiarism on DDO please, and as stated, PRO's arguments have been left conceded.
Vote Placed by Yep 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Plagiarism alone should lose this round for con, but Pro also had extensive argumentation that connects to the resolution (unlike con). BOP fulfilled, pro wins.
Vote Placed by Chelicerae 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Plagiarism is bad.
Vote Placed by RyuuKyuzo 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct to Pro for obvious reasons. Grammar to Pro because, while Con's arguments had fine grammar it wasn't his own. Arguments to Pro for making his own and not making irrelevant ones. Sources to Pro because con constantly failed to source the articles he was blatantly ripping off.