The topic of self identity baffles me.
Its baffled aeons of philosophers, all religions and in our thinking moments, each and everyone of us.
Who am I? is a question no-one can answer; well sort of. No one can answer fully. For some the answer relies on the external. For example a benign God. That’s what religion is all about. We make it complicated, but like all human things when we distill it, it is reduced to looking at ourselves.
Others have tried to rationalise the answer. Philosophy 101: I think therefore I am. Well, not really. You might have been there for a moment, a tiny nano second. Thoughts like this abound. They call it metaphysics.
Its not an easy question is it? Just three words and no one can answer it. We’ve put a lot of effort in though: fought wars, killed people and damaged ourselves. Still no answer.
We have found out how to skirt around the question though.
Ironically in pursuing (most) day to day activities, like paying the mortgage, we drive ourselves as far from an answer as possible. Maybe that’s because we don’t really want to find it. And in doing so life becomes one great big distraction. Its a distraction we in the West would seem to favour.
The thing is people worked this out ages ago. Socrates wrote it down. For him ‘who am I’ was only answered by considering the totality of one’s life. He went as far at to say if you didn’t consider it then it probably wasn’t worth living in the first place. Loads of poets and artists have touched upon the subject. D.H. Lawrence hit the nail upon the head when he wrote all men ‘are active with captive activity.’ That’s not a bad answer, although DH seemed to have a habit of looking on the bad side of things. You know; glass half empty kind of guy. Still he was a bit of a legend.
And there are a whole host of people who still wrestle with the question; psychologists, priests, rabbis, philosophers etc.
The answer for us is not as simple as it would seem for roses, whom bloom, retreat, then bloom again.
I’m going to write a series of articles taking the issue of self-identity from different points of view. Its something human kind have been wrangling with for many thousands of years so my words wont be exhaustive but they will serve as an introduction to a fascinating topic.