Monday, September 7, 2009


Our brief discussion on the topic of self and identity the other day has really stuck with me. A concept as routine as this surely wouldn’t present a whole lot of problems in discussion, right? (sorry for the irrelevance to kierkegaard, just wanted to throw this out there.)

As college students we are all, or at least have once been pretty much obsessed with our identity. We are all striving to fill or even become certain criteria. High school, for example, encourages the individual to do things like join clubs and make good grades, for the purpose of developing a veritable identity that may be written down and either rejected or accepted. Students are urged to participate in order to gain membership in groups, whether it’s the soccer team, the debate club, or eventually college. The same trend exists within college as well. We are all striving to be someTHING, whether its a doctor, or a business woman, or even a philosopher. But when asked who you are, does one simply answer with their respective list? Can one really summarize oneself with what basically amounts to a job application? After all, it is theirs, is it not? Even on a less formal level, such as shared interests or hobbies, they don’t necessarily represent who we are. I know that I can’t be summed up by my involvement in the track team. I hope that I’m more interesting than that. As Dr. J argued in class, it is an insufficient description of self to merely attach oneself to a group. One has an identity before they join a fraternity or the basketball team, don’t they? I’m pretty confident that I had a valid identity before I started running track in ninth grade. It is also insufficient to rely on measuring self in facticity. That is, physical characteristics or facts are an inadequate representation of self. Something that is so peripheral must ultimately have minimal effect on ones’ self.

So how do we express (or even achieve) self-conciseness? It seems that our language doesn’t even allow for this. I know that, given the restrictions that I’ve set forth, I couldn’t explain just who I am. I couldn’t sit here and put myself onto a blog, only my thoughts and ideas that maybe express who I am. Perhaps that is the answer; our ideas and beliefs make us who we are. Maybe it is our creativity, our willingness to change, and our wisdom that define us. It would seem then, that ones’ “who” is not to be told or explained, but rather shown.


  1. I like how you bring up the idea that maybe it is our thoughts and ideas that express who we are. I believe this gives a much better idea of who the individual is than other aspects of our personalities. For instance, I am really into music. I am more than dedicated to the music I like and used to believe that my taste in music could really define me to a certain point. I could talk to you all day about why The Notorious B.I.G. is better than Tupac, why Dark Side of the Moon is the best album ever, why Daft Punk is one of the most original modern musical acts and why there will never be another album made like Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), but that wouldn't give you a clear idea of who I am. There are numerous people out there that feel the same way I do about these subjects, so that just makes me fall back into the masses. What I have recently come to discover is that what really gives a good idea of who you are is through writing and recording your own ideas and stream of conscience. There are times when a stream of conscience put down in writing straight from my brain to the page is something that cannot be duplicated, it's my own. This leads me to reflect on yesterday when Colin Fletcher and I were chillin' in my house freestyling, the lines and rhymes we made were things that happened that one time and can never be reproduced again. The reason I bring this up is that freestyling is very similar to the stream of conscience I spoke to earlier, by the fact that they are both things that can only be produced once. Does that mean we are constantly changing and I am not the man I was yesterday and will never be the same from one day to the next? If that's true then it has only become even harder to define the self. This is some heavy stuff.

  2. Alright. So I completely agree that maybe our "thoughts and ideas" are a more valid understanding of an individual, rather than actions and "other aspects of our personalities." However, I think an individual's interests, like music and certain sports for example, do have strong influences on the individual and can almost be building blocks to a person's individuality. For example, maybe listening to a certain song or seeing a piece of art triggers a person's stream of consciousness, as Kipp discussed, and because of that song or work of art a person finds something out about he/she's "self." And even though someone may like or dislike something just the same, the thoughts that the individual writes down or discusses are the individual's own thoughts. Also, I don't think that just because you may feel the same way about something as someone else makes you unoriginal or not unique. Having genuinely the same opinion about something as someone else is unique in itself, and allows you to make a unique connection with another individual. However, the thoughts further attached to the "something" are purely the individual's own--but what happens when someone's opinion about something is swayed by another person? I think this also leads to the concept of change that Kipp discussed at the end--just because we change our mind about something, just because we change our opinion, is our "self" altered as well? Does it change our whole individuality, who we are as a person?


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