Hi. My name is Ken. I have been defined by Nathan Bailey, 241 years before I was born, in 1731. Surprisingly accurately at that! At a distance: Here on the Internet. I don’t define things; I describe them. Quite superficially at that.
Do our names make us who we are? It’s one of those “Yes and no” answers. Encoded in the very language we use are concepts that have grown and changed but are more or less embedded in how we think, both about ourselves and others.
We may not ever learn the origin of our names, yet related forms of words and concepts do enter our consciousness at some level and may shape somewhat the kinds of people we see ourselves to be and shape how others treat us.
Do names define us? Certainly not entirely, for we have genetic encoding which is something that gives us our initial state, like dirt before anything is planted in it. All dirt is different and has unique nutrients in it, which support different plant growth. Yet dirt can change both over time, through added fertilizer and by its interacting with the plants that grow within it.
But do names have influence? I believe so, but to fully trace the tangled mess of concepts, understanding, language, society, culture, how we name things and people and what they mean and what we think they mean… well… its asking a lot to untangle it all perfectly.
But I believe that it’s possible and eventually, we’ll get these kinds of things sorted out. Perhaps we already have and I just don’t know about it yet.
I don’t know the essence or nature of things. I can’t define things. But I can describe, give an outward appearance, draw the form, represent, explain. Those things I can do. At a distance. Ken is good at Kenning.
[PS – I don’t mean just personal names. I’m thinking of the nature of words themselves and meaning. All of them.]