Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Considering a name change

Rate this topic


Cogito
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hi all,

Joining this forum was the first time I ever communicated with people online who I'd never met in person. As such, when I was choosing my forum name, I had a chance to present myself as I chose, not as my parents chose before I was even born. Given that choice, I chose the name Cogito. I've been using the nickname for around a year now, and it represents me much more than Shea (which means nothing to me) or Levy (which ties me to Judaism, worse than meaning nothing) ever have or could. As such, I am seriously considering making the name change legal and final. I'm asking everyone with whom I interact to call me Cogito, for at least a few weeks, to see how I like it. I'd also like to hear input on this decision, since it is not yet final and I'm open to hearing arguments for or against.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I cannot think of any many particularly good reasons not to do so in cases like these. OK, there is all the paperwork and telling everyone about the change, but I wouldn't imagine it would be all that bad. Those arent really arguments against it, as much as they are are factors to consider if considering doing it.

This has been discussed before between me and a few people. Mostly they said that changing your name just because it doesn't do anything for you, is arbitrary or some such nonsense. But that is just not true. Your name is something you potentially are stuck with for the rest of your life, it might as well be one that you enjoy somewhat or at least have some positive association/feeling for.

I do not recall anyone arguing that the fact it has bad associations for you as being a bad reason to change names. On the other hand, its definitely worth it, especially if others you might care for / want to do business with have the same associations.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cogito is not a normal first name in our society: I don't want to say that absolutely nobody has that as an actual name, but I've never encountered it. So from my POV, there is something peculiar about a person who changed their ordinary name to something strange, and I might be influenced (not for the better) by that conclusion in dealing with a person. That, I think, is the risk you'll face, being perceived as a geek or weirdo. If you picked a nice Afro made up name like Taniquisha (that's probably a girl's name, I dunno), I might be willing to say "Poor guy, his cruel parents gave him a strange name, but at least it wasn't Dweezil".

The religious association with Levy is weak. Obviously you had some Jewish male in your ancestory, but that stuff wears off and for many people with names like Levin, Cohen and so on, it's just an ancient historical fact. As you know, "Jewish" is utterly ambiguous as to religion or ethnicity, and only religion is chosen.

If you had a bizarre name like Thraxipon Wankanomali, I'd urge you to change. It's true your name is not age-appropriate (I don't know what the current male standard is: Sean, Joshua, stuff like that). Does your name offend thee so much that you must pluck it out?

I guess, based on what I know of you, that you will actually go through with this if you should do so.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cogito is not a normal first name in our society: I don't want to say that absolutely nobody has that as an actual name, but I've never encountered it. So from my POV, there is something peculiar about a person who changed their ordinary name to something strange, and I might be influenced (not for the better) by that conclusion in dealing with a person. That, I think, is the risk you'll face, being perceived as a geek or weirdo.

I agree with this. Cogito is a fine forum name, but no good for a first name. I think if I asked that people called me "The Inspector" offline, I would get more than a few funny looks, to say the least. In fact, the name started as a reference to a joke that pretty much went like that...

But I digress.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I did a legal name change several years ago. If you do it, be prepared for about 18 months of hassle.

After you get your court order, you have to send certified copies ($) of it to everywhere you can think of. Social Security, Selective Service (if you're male and 18-25), IRS, State tax authorities, local tax authorities, the US State Department (passport), all your banks, credit card companies, lenders, the credit bureaus (there are three!), the Post Office, the BMV (license and registration), insurance companies, Bureau of Vital Records where you were born (to change your birth certificate - optional, but makes some things easier), deeds, wills (not just yours but everyone else's, too), schools, and anything else important. Then, after that, you have to send more copies ($) to all the less important places you forgot about: the video store, the library, the shoe-of-the-month club, airline frequent flyer programs, your doctor, your pharmacist, voter registration (that one's kind of important now with all the new voter identification requirements), Sam's Club/CostCo/BJs memberships, any leases. And then, for the next 18 months, you'll discover even more people who are still using your old name. Carry a certified copy of your order with you all the time. It will take a while, but eventually, you won't need it any more.

For me, it was worth it. But if your new name is anything out of the ordinary, you will have additional trouble. People don't like things that are different from what they're used to. As part of my name change, I shortened my first name from Thomas to Tom. Even still, people insist that "Tom" cannot possibly be my real name, because it is only short for "Thomas." I have to sit them down and explain, "If I had meant that my name was Thomas, I would have said so. I didn't. I said Tom. Because that is my name." With "Cogito," you'll have more problems getting people to use it correctly. And expect a lot of mispronunciations, misspellings, &c.

~Q

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also changed my name, as all of my family has called me "Jimmy" since childhood. But for all things official and semi-official, going by my preferred "James" was actually easier, since that's the name on my birth certificate and everything else.

Personally, the Inconvenience Argument from dealing with other people has never held much ground in the face of me liking something better myself, and nothing normal I can think of would stand in the way of a change of name. But some main social obstacles you might consider are: current friendships, family, future employment, and financial institution partnerships (banks and loans).

Maybe I'm clueless, but in any well-populated area of the US, a name doesn't seem mean anything except what to call someone. People are used to initially having to figure out how to call someone; there are tons of weird names out there. My name is the current most-popular, and how many people named "James" do you know?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Having unchosen first and last names can be a problem - a first name being unchosen by the individual, the last name belonging to one's immediate tribal association, in effect. I can see the validity behind changing such an unchosen burden, given its significance in one's own life. It's rather like with plastic surgery when someone else argues, "but then you're changing yourself!", revealing that, to them, in their superficial and non-intellectual way, "you" are your appearance - and claiming an ownership right on you. Naming, it seems to me, has the potential to be every bit as pernicious - the desire of the tribe to control the lives of its members. If one doesn't choose that association, I see nothing wrong with making a point of declaring one's independence from it by changing one's name.

Not that Ayn Rand is an authority in this specific respect, but she changed her name, much to the good.

David has a good point about being perceived as weird. Your Objective values will either justify that burden for you, or they won't.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi all,

Joining this forum was the first time I ever communicated with people online who I'd never met in person. As such, when I was choosing my forum name, I had a chance to present myself as I chose, not as my parents chose before I was even born. Given that choice, I chose the name Cogito. I've been using the nickname for around a year now, and it represents me much more than Shea (which means nothing to me) or Levy (which ties me to Judaism, worse than meaning nothing) ever have or could. As such, I am seriously considering making the name change legal and final. I'm asking everyone with whom I interact to call me Cogito, for at least a few weeks, to see how I like it. I'd also like to hear input on this decision, since it is not yet final and I'm open to hearing arguments for or against.

Sorry, but this is just way too pretentious-sounding for my taste. Maybe you are a good thinker--I don't know. But to walk around advertising it in your name? A good thinker doesn't need to label himself as a good thinker in the eyes of others. Suppose someone is a really muscular body-builder. Don't you think it would be silly if he were to give himself a new name like Flexulus or Pumper or Repman? Names like this are for comic book superheroes, not real individuals with self-esteem.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry, but this is just way too pretentious-sounding for my taste. Maybe you are a good thinker--I don't know. But to walk around advertising it in your name? A good thinker doesn't need to label himself as a good thinker in the eyes of others. Suppose someone is a really muscular body-builder. Don't you think it would be silly if he were to give himself a new name like Flexulus or Pumper or Repman? Names like this are for comic book superheroes, not real individuals with self-esteem.

I'm not saying, in my name at least, that I'm a good thinker... Just that I think. There is a difference. It's not about an ego-boost, it's about a definition. Should we call a computer a turing machine (a name based off of one of its creators) or a computer (a name based on its function)?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What the name means to you is the most important part. In this particular case, most people won't know -- nor stop to consider -- what it means. If you named yourself "Thoughtful" in the U.S., it would sound odd. With "Cogito", folks will probably think it's some European name.

Practically, having an uncommon name does have some disadvantages -- one has to repeat it in so many instances, that it seems almost not worth it. On balance though, I prefer uncommon first names to common ones.

Still, I wouldn't encourage you to change your name. My advice would be: there's no hurry. Think about it for a while, and see how the idea sounds this time next year.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I dont think Cogito is pretentious. It is unusual I suppose, however I do not know about unusual to the extent of being a bad name to choose.

However, maybe is partially as I know Cogito and have more knowledge about how it might suit him. It does a fair job describing him in terms of what makes him tickk (excuse me if that seems a bit like a pun) and suggests something of what he loves and what motivates him. I do not see a problem with choosing a name on those grounds.

Edit: As for him having time to think about it: I believe from what he has told me that he has a few months before he is legally able to change his name, that should be plenty of time to make sure that he really should do it or not, and to perhaps consider any other names that may or may not come up as alternatives.

Cogito...do you have any alternate names you are considering

Edited by Prometheus98876
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't see why "Levy" should be tied to Judaism. It is probably a Hebrew word and probably has a meaning of its own. I similarly don't understand why people consider names of Christian or Islamic people as tied to those religions. Aren't those names mere words having a meaning in some Indo-European language or Hebrew or Arabic or whatever language? I find this a weird quality of semitic religions.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't see why "Levy" should be tied to Judaism. It is probably a Hebrew word and probably has a meaning of its own. I similarly don't understand why people consider names of Christian or Islamic people as tied to those religions. Aren't those names mere words having a meaning in some Indo-European language or Hebrew or Arabic or whatever language? I find this a weird quality of semitic religions.
The connection is, I believe, via Hebrew לֵוִי and there is some explanation in terms of Leah, Jacob and their 3rd son, who is said to have founded the tribe of Levi. You also find name / religion correlations in Hinduism which are sentence-long meaningful, Buddhism (Bodhi, Dharmadhatu, Ashoka). Names have meanings in every human culture, AFAIK.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The connection is, I believe, via Hebrew לֵוִי and there is some explanation in terms of Leah, Jacob and their 3rd son, who is said to have founded the tribe of Levi. You also find name / religion correlations in Hinduism which are sentence-long meaningful, Buddhism (Bodhi, Dharmadhatu, Ashoka). Names have meanings in every human culture, AFAIK.
Thats true. But, how does a name with a certain cultural meaning "tie" it to a religion? Ok, the names may be present in the mythologies of some religion. But just because it is so, why do religious conversions insist on a name change? I am guessing it has to do with some sort of mysticism associated with names present in their particular mythologies. As an aside, in India, bourgeois Marxists give names of famous Marxist revolutionaries to their children.

PS. Sorry for drifting off-topic

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Levi is biblically Israel's third son. The Levites, descendants of Levi, were supposed to be the tribe of religious teachers wandering throughout the nation of Israel. Moses is said to be of the tribe of Levi, and Aaron, Moses' brother, is said to be the paternal ancestor of the priestly class within Israel who tended to the temple in Jerusalem. The Levites today have a particular role within the Synagogue services.

Levi figures very prominently early in the Bible; the name is therefore inextricably tied to Judaism as well as being quite popular among Jews today and throughout their history.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are you changing the first or last name, or both? Are you gonna be Cogito, like Madonna? Shea's one of my favorite gaelic names. In fact, if I have kids I might choose that name.

Just be prepared for this.

Cogito. "What?" Cogito "Huh?" Cogito What?"

Also, you might get people calling you "Cog"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Levi figures very prominently early in the Bible; the name is therefore inextricably tied to Judaism as well as being quite popular among Jews today and throughout their history.
Do you think that "Smith" is inextricably tied to blacksmithing or "Appleby" is inextricably ties to apple-ranching? I think there's a difference between "historically related" and "inextricably connected". Edited by DavidOdden
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It seems that the dominating protest to the name change is the unusual nature of "Cogito." Well, what does that matter? Yes, you will have to repeat it often, spell it more often, and explain it twice as much as all that. But does that matter? After all, you're picking it because it's meaningful to you. So, discussing it with curious strangers and acquaintances should be an enjoyable and meaningful experience.

Your name is probably the word you hear most often in a day. I think it can have a great deal to do with your sense of self. I knew a guy named, seriously, Shithead, pronounced Shy-thead. He hated it, dreaded being addressed in public, and generally lost interest in meeting new people. Why should someone bear the burden of being addressed by a name that doesn't represent them? A name is a profoundly self-oriented thing, and it's a selfish decision you're making. To go by what you feel describes you best, because you care about who you are and want to represent that reality in your dealing with others. Don't factor every one else's reactions into your decision unless you really think it will be too much of a hassle to spell "Cogito" a couple times a day.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...