Essay Example on We contain multitudes








We contain multitudes wrote Walt Whitman We see ourselves differently in various different contexts finding answer to the question Who am I is a struggle that everyone goes through The answer to the question is linked to your personal identity the answer to the question is how others will see you For people who are overly concerned with other people s impressions on them or for people who feel that a core aspect of themselves such as gender or sexuality is not being expressed this struggle is acute To be able to grasp and analyze the identity one must first know what it is There had been numerous studies done about identity through the years but never was there one concrete definition for it Despite the vast and broad ranging interest in identity the true concept of it remains something of an enigma The definition of it is fluid and largely contextual Philip Gleason had said that the definition of identity we use is not well captured by the definitions in dictionaries 1 Though everyone knows how to use the word properly on everyday conversations it had proven to be difficult to give a short and adequate description that encompasses the the broad spectrum in which the word is used If in need of a definition one would look in a dictionary There are multiple definitions available some more complex than others The most relevant one can be found in OED 2nd edition 1989

The sameness of a person or thing at all times or in all circumstances the condition or fact that a person or thing is itself and not something else individuality personality and yet this definition still does not stay true for all circumstances In other definitions identity is defined as the difference the uniqueness of someone or something When a person defines themselves as being this becomes a part of their identity When a person does one thing repetitively this becomes a part of their identity Whether these claims are grounded on facts or personal belief Say a person of Asian descent was born in the USA if they chose to identify themselves as an American then being an American is now tied to their identity Same goes for a woman that identifies as a female being a female is now tied to their identity If a young boy likes to play the guitar a lot and his family and peers notice him do it they might identify him as a guitarist Despite the young boy never claiming this the fact that he was continuously seen playing the guitar it had started to become associated with him Being a guitarist is now part of his identity unless it was denied by him strongly An example for this would be a transexual man the public may call him a woman despite him identifying as a man In this sense being a man is a part of his identity Identity in Philosophy In philosophy identity is a predicate which functions as an identifier i e a marker that distinguishes and differentiates one object from another object3 

Thus identity in this sense focuses on the uniqueness of the concerned object In the last six decades since Erik Erikson made his path breaking contributions to psychoanalytic theory and character pathology elevating the term to a theoretical concept identity has been given multiple interpretations Nowadays in a late modern society we see the difficulties that are related to the ambiguity of the term identity A definition the term identity goes back to the Greek term atomon it signifies indivisible in a primary etymological sense identity in the sense of individuality is a secondary sense Leibniz contribution to this point in his theory of monads is an attempt to singularize individuals by a complete enumeration of their qualities one can see the individuality of a singular object is not easily even principally not describable in its empirical dimensions The I as such a singular object cannot be characterized by a complete enumerations of its characteristics but reduces us to statements about a localization in space and time 4 To this Kant argued that individuals could not be specified in terms of a concept of substance as Leibniz had attempt to do 

We never would come at the individuality of an individual by its complete description Individuals primarily are objects a data in perception and as such bound to space and time 5 Kant had wanted to attribute identity to the unity of an object in a more fundamental way in the Transcendental Ego he laid down such a principle Being aware of ourselves as thinking subjects we know the subject as being a unified and unique whole the same in all of its different perceptions or thoughts The I think must be able to accompany all my representations 6 J Locke particularly related the human self to memory and argued that a person can be addressed as the same person if he or she is able to remember previous states of consciousness a person can consider itself as itself the same thinking thing in different times and places 7 If he or she does remember nothing of his or her past her or she literally has no identity 8 However numeric identity has to be complemented by substantially meaningful identification particularly when it is about individual persons

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