Scientifically & philosophically, is it fair to say that our faces do not represent our real selves?

Oct 2017
153
Australia 🇦🇺
#1
Scientifically & philosophically, is it fair to say that our faces & bodies do not represent our real selves, considering that they are made of flesh, skin, muscle, bones, etc., rather than neurons, arguably the real essence of us?

Might seem quite obvious, by the much more often than not, faces & bodies is all many, if not most or even all, people as well as other animals will ever know you by. For many, most, if not all other animals may not even have the biological capability to know & disassociate psychology, the soul if you will, from physical appearance.

That facial expression & body language can be likened to an alphabet or letters in texts, but are not the meaning or essence themselves? & are prone to all kinds of misinterpretation? That this is where true rather than superficial understanding is evidently important for us?

Me personally, while I am no big fan at all of being associated with my physical appearance & form (I’m rather antisocial & introverted, but cherish close ones) I would venture to claim that my soul, me, is much more associated with my body that it is my head. That is to say, if you are going to think of me, think of me as my body rather than head. Sure, my head & face is where my sensory organs, windows fo the world, may be, but it’s only relevant to sociality, that outside of social situations, life is most relevant to more fundamental aspects, like action, getting around, avoiding danger, regulating internal body conditions, getting stuff like food & items, etc. it is in those situations once you manage to leave human social settings where the face becomes utterly meaningless to me & reveals what it really is, a bunch of flesh which has evolved to be the main site of communication for higher primates. I also notice that I start seeing faces & human forms, pareidolia, less often on surfaces. I do hope that people with facial recognition & reading disorders, among other things, recognize & appreciate this fact better than the masses do.
Anyways, facial & body expressions mean little to me, what I value much more in communication & relationships are meaning & understanding, & to glue that together with respect. Again, back to the point that while letters may make whole books & libraries, they are meaningless without essence. Worse still is when others misinterpret & make their own meanings from the letters. An example is this is why it’s so easy to get mistakenly accused when being investigated, cuz with much pressure around you it’s easy to get agitated yet not because you are hiding anything, or that when you smile or laugh, it doesn’t necessarily mean you like something or think it’s funny. I do hope that my frustrations with this involves me not having made the right friends yet for me. A matter of overcoming instinct or mind over matter, for face is muscle, which isn’t only matter, but isn’t even neurons.
Would you say the same about yourself for all the above?
 
Last edited:

holoow

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
3,824
Vilnius, Lithuania
#2
Not an expert on the subject, but it seems that physiognomy was quite popular and valid in 19th century. It was also widespread in ancient world, especially Greece ( with it's cult of beauty ) and China. However, judging by appearance was strongly criticized by ancient Chinese philosopher Xun Kuang ( 'Contra physiognomy' from his work Xunzi ).
 

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,494
Florania
#4
Funny enough, the Chinese work of Lunheng criticized such theories in chapter 11, and it mentions that people with similar facial features have very different destiny.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,715
Sydney
#5
less than the features themselves , the facial expression are the result of one's life experience
the older one is the more obvious this is , the inner person can be perceived like a book in the face alphabet
 

specul8

Ad Honorem
Oct 2016
3,296
Australia
#8
Scientifically & philosophically, is it fair to say that our faces & bodies do not represent our real selves, considering that they are made of flesh, skin, muscle, bones, etc., rather than neurons, arguably the real essence of us?
Fair enough .

The REAL SELF ? Its a subject I have debated esoterically ( with Daoists, Buddhists, Hindus ) ,psychologically and mythologically .

However , externals can offer indications .


Might seem quite obvious, by the much more often than not, faces & bodies is all many, if not most or even all, people as well as other animals will ever know you by.
Worse, in that, for some , it goes 'further out' ( that is, they dont look at the ' inside ' , dont even judge on the natural appearance but what covers that ; make up, clothes, jewelery, hair style, tattoos , etc . ) Then again, some use those things to express their inner individual self ... while some use them to 'conform' .


For many, most, if not all other animals may not even have the biological capability to know & disassociate psychology, the soul if you will, from physical appearance.
'Psychology' is the soul ? In this context I think a better word is 'spirit' : ie. 'in the essential nature of a thing' , a 'self's' indiivdual nature and expression.

That facial expression & body language can be likened to an alphabet or letters in texts, but are not the meaning or essence themselves? & are prone to all kinds of misinterpretation? That this is where true rather than superficial understanding is evidently important for us?
Of course the facial expressions and types of body language are handy to signal what present mode or mood, but not the verall nature of a person .... although, over time ( or if the wind changes :) ) certain expressions may be 'etched' into the appearance . Same with 'posture' and 'body language ' ..... Wilhelm Reich had some interesting observations about that . For me , sometimes having facial recognition problems and bad eyesight, I often rely on body language for an ID if someone is at a distance .

Me personally, while I am no big fan at all of being associated with my physical appearance & form (I’m rather antisocial & introverted, but cherish close ones) I would venture to claim that my soul, me, is much more associated with my body that it is my head. That is to say, if you are going to think of me, think of me as my body rather than head.
Well, I tried that with a friend .... but SHE objected .

:)

Again , I would not use 'soul' for this ... soul is a 'function' ... your 'me' ... without going to deep into the source and meaning of personal identity ... IMO seems better expressed by the term 'spirit' ; your essential self and nature .


Sure, my head & face is where my sensory organs, windows fo the world, may be, but it’s only relevant to sociality, that outside of social situations, life is most relevant to more fundamental aspects, like action, getting around, avoiding danger, regulating internal body conditions, getting stuff like food & items, etc. it is in those situations once you manage to leave human social settings where the face becomes utterly meaningless to me & reveals what it really is, a bunch of flesh which has evolved to be the main site of communication for higher primates. I also notice that I start seeing faces & human forms, pareidolia, less often on surfaces. I do hope that people with facial recognition & reading disorders, among other things, recognize & appreciate this fact better than the masses do.
Yes, but tagging people by faces seems the most common and easiest ... whether its valid or not - I think of any erson and the first thing that comes to mind is their face .

Anyways, facial & body expressions mean little to me, what I value much more in communication & relationships are meaning & understanding, & to glue that together with respect. Again, back to the point that while letters may make whole books & libraries, they are meaningless without essence. Worse still is when others misinterpret & make their own meanings from the letters. An example is this is why it’s so easy to get mistakenly accused when being investigated, cuz with much pressure around you it’s easy to get agitated yet not because you are hiding anything, or that when you smile or laugh, it doesn’t necessarily mean you like something or think it’s funny. I do hope that my frustrations with this involves me not having made the right friends yet for me. A matter of overcoming instinct or mind over matter, for face is muscle, which isn’t only matter, but isn’t even neurons.
Would you say the same about yourself for all the above?
Its not the 'thing' itself ... it is a vehicle of expression of the 'thing' itself . A common human misidentification ; " the map is not the territory".
 
Oct 2017
153
Australia 🇦🇺
#10
I hope I’m not getting too deep here, but this is a philosophy thread isn’t it? Perhaps this thread would be better suited to a biology or psychology forum since it relies heavily on that, but it’s still academic & interesting nonetheless I hope, which history is always important for. Don’t worry, this thread is as casual as it is serious. Much of it has to do with personal opinion I guess, though we should all aim to be at least minimally academic shouldn’t we?

I tend to be emo, goth, dark, deeply philosophical, nature-loving/tree-hugging, fairly misanthropic, as well as fairly romantic, yea I’m that kinda fellow. Included in my psyche is a loathing of my appearance.

My perspective as a biologist is, so much for our physical appearances not conforming to & representing our psyches, ‘inner selves’, for many of us, for whoever we happen to be, especially for those of us who are less physically privileged, how can they even represent us in the first place, if they aren’t even made of neurons & neural tissue, the real essence of us?
I well recognise as a biologist how linked our psyches & perception are to biology & the rest of our bodies, & how isolated our brains & nervous systems are to the external environment, which means each other I suppose, & that as a complex system itself the psyche has its own hierarchies of advancement & primitiveness.
But personally I feel that it’s pretty messed up how judging & communication has developed in humans based on aspects that not only can we not change, but are not even accurate or faithful to the real essence of us. I wonder whether non-visual animals, a great bulk of them olfactory oriented, have got it better set up than us.
(The only animals I can think of the top of my head that have poor olfaction are higher primates, birds & cetaceans)

Think about how rough or ugly looking people are often portrayed as rough or villainous, & how gracile people the opposite. But what does this say about the inside, if that even matters at all?

My perspective is that not only is judging default appearances which we cannot change messed up, but that communication by facial & body language isn’t entirely accurate as well as I’ve minimally explained earlier. Yet this setup seems to be like 95 - 99% of how humanity has ever known each other.

& even if we acknowledge this messy set up scientifically & professionally, what conclusions & solutions can we come up for it?
Is humanity forever doomed to this messy inaccurate setup, except for perhaps a handful of enlightened folks like say myself?

Telepathy would be one accurate solution, but how possible is that actually, & would it be a good solution, & to what degree?
 
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