Names versus Titles

One of the most common questions I hear is “What is the difference between a name and a title?”

To really dig into this, we first must distinguish between two very different kinds of identifying labels: functional labels versus essence labels. A functional label identifies you regarding your place within society: for example, “lawyer” and “teacher” are functional labels. An essence label identifies you regarding your relationship with existence. Your name (any of them) could be essence labels, as well as things like your religion: are you “catholic” or “protestant”?

I’d suggest that a title is a functional label, with two general purposes: identifying role and rank. “Teacher” might be a role label, and “assistant” teacher shows your rank. This is very important within more formal roles like the military, where the difference between a lieutenant, a general, and a colonel carry a huge amount of responsibility. Rank can also demonstrate a degree of honor: for example, someone who has been knighted carries the title of “Sir”.

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