Solitude and Hope: Y'all Come Visit!

Publick and Privat Curiosities: Articles Related to News, Politics, Society, Gay Issues, Psychology, Humor, Music and Videos.

January 21, 2005


On Self and Identity: A Critique

Chagall "Lithographe"
"Self" and "Identity are not facts about people; they are ways of thinking about people. Therefore, it doesn't really make sense for us to say that someone "has a self or an identity," as if each is a thing that actually may be had, possessed or discovered.

Self and identity are changeable. However it is the kind of changeability that derives from the fact that self and identity are not names of identifiable or concrete, monolithic entities. They are classes of (perhaps unformulated) self-experiences, which are quite varied in terms of scope, time of origin, vantage point and context.

Consider these examples: I hit myself (self= my body; I hate myself (self= my personality); I'm self-conscious (self= my actions); I'm self-sufficient (self= competence); I feel like my old self (self= sense of continuity); I'm selfish (self= my needs); my shame was self-inflicted (self= my agency); and I couldn't contain myself (self= my subjective space).

The reifications of "self" and "identity," then, center around the concretist idea that cognitive processes are substances, with such properties of matter as spacial location,weight, quantity and inertia. Similarly, our assumptions about feelings too often are identified with qualities of actual substances, substances to be withheld or expelled, gotten rid of or destroyed; or they may fill one up, explode, leak out or spill over. Feelings for others, in addition, in this manner are described as ties that may be cut (like ropes, umbilical cords, or sadistic chains), be substances that engulf, poison, paralyze, suffocate, or "murder" one's "soul."

Even though such archaic thinking is commonly used as metaphor in our communications about everyday life, more accurate perspectives would not ascribe substantiality to what are essentially cognitive and emotional processes.

Comments: Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home


January 2005   February 2005   March 2005   April 2005   May 2005   June 2005   July 2005   August 2005   September 2005   October 2005   November 2005   December 2005   January 2006   February 2006   March 2006   April 2006   May 2006   June 2006   July 2006   August 2006   October 2006   November 2006   December 2006   January 2007  

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]