Saturday, February 19, 2011

"Self" as Identity

I was looking through some Amazon book titles this morning, when one caught my eye. "The Self We Live By". I thought that was an interesting title, and though I have not read the book, nor do I know what the author's thesis is, I am going to use it as a jumping off point to write about what has been "on my mind".

Some people do not accept "self" as a concept. These think that "self" does not and cannot exist apart from community. While humans are social beings, the human is also a rational beings. And reason forms or identifies with different aspects of one's "world". "Self" changes over the course of a person's life, as this is what maturity, learning, and  "coming to terms" with one's values is about. So, what forms the "self"?

"Self" is formed by experiences, within cultural contexts. "Self" is understood,  by such social contexts, but are not dependent on them after "self-awareness" of them. Consciousness of one's social inllences becomes a time of reflecting on what one chooses to value most. And these identification factors can change by one's conscious choice. Then, one's bias or prejuidice is not an unconcious emotional response to life, but a rational explaination of life.

Not every culture allows for "self"s development, if the culture is unduly restrictive. These restrictions can be along the lines of religion, or political ideology.

Religion defines "God", "sprituality", and social mores and values. Political ideology defines how a culture undestands itself. Both of these aspect of/in culture form the child, the young adult and eventually, the adult. This is why being aware and self-reflective as to one's values is important whenver one encounters other people. Communication cannot happen apart from defining terms, and grasping ultimate values.

I am thankful to have been born in America, "the land of the free".....America and her people must "prove" the second part of that sentence; "the home of the brave...." and what that might mean to Amercia's future!

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