I was just watching a movie entitled Romance. It was the story of a woman who was torn between her love for her celibate boyfriend and her sexual apetites. When she was with her boyfriend she loved him for himself, for his person. When she was cheating on her boyfriend she wanted to see only bodies screwing her and she wanted to be seen as only a body herself.
This got me thinking about the way we see others. I thought about the ways I have looked at others in the past. So far I have come up with: people, automata, animals, and machines.
When I see others as people I see them for who I think they are. I see them as conscious beings like myself. I am most often looking at people as people when I see people that I know or when I am talking to someone.
When in a public place with lots of people walking around I don't see people as individual, conscious persons, I see somthing like automata. I think this is because I don't know the people and I have never spoken with them. There are too many people walking around out there to think of each one as a conscious entity when walking around in a crowd. Of course if I was to stop and talk to one it would become a person.
I usually see people as animals when I am thinking of them in animalistic terms. A person are animals and, like other animals, have to perform biological functions. Someone who is out of breath and panting and someone who is taking a leak isn't doing anything that separates people from the other vertibrates. When I look at people who are doing biological type things I generally see them as animals.
For me sex is an animal thing. People who are having sex arn't doing anything human specific. Most animals have sex. Humans who are having sex arn't using their higher brain functions (unless they are being creative :)).
Oddly enough when I am ogling an attractive person I am the one I see as the animal, not the other person. Ogling is a response that can be found in almost any vertibrate. The difference is that humans restrain themselves (or they go to jail).
Usually when I am thinking of individuals in terms of machines I am doing so for medical purposes. Watching operations on TLC brings me too close to the boddies to think of them just as automata. Looking at them as people is possible, but unpleasant. Watching a person being cut up only serves to turn my stomach. Looking at people as machines allows me to watch their corneas get cut off and carefully reattached with fascination and not horror.
Looking at people as machines can be a tricky thing. I have found that it takes some mental preparation at times. When I watch operations involving most things below the neck then I have no problem looking at the person as a machine. I find it more difficult in things like eye surgery. I don't know if I could maintain machine viewpoint if I was actually present to see a saw cutting through a rib cage. I think that a right of passage in the metical profession is gaining the ability to disassemble a body in the same way one would disassemble a car.