Identity: How do you define it? | Page 5 | INFJ Forum

Identity: How do you define it?

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by PapillonT, May 25, 2020.

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  1. OP
    PapillonT

    PapillonT Community Member

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    Well, we can agree that we all have rather rather different perspectives that could come together in the end. As we're not in an academic setting, I wouldn't like to tell anyone what methodology or line of questioning they must pursue :)
    Personally, I am interested in the role of memory and traditions, and I will probably look for more information on that. Do you have any particular line of thinking you'd like to explore further? Please feel free to do so if you do have.
    I don't feel I am the owner of this thread only because I posed some questions, we're all equal :)
     
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  2. Aaron Thyne

    Aaron Thyne Regular Poster

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    I don't think this is a good question. Literally nothing is off limits when it comes to identity. For example, human atoms have protons, neutrons and electrons. If, god forbid, we found an intelligent life form that consisted entirely of atoms that had only protons and neutrons, we would incorporate even this into our identity. Suppose we were to say: "The difference between us and them is that we have electrons and they don't". Regardless of how much of a moral crusade you might go on to diminish the importance of this distinction, it would still be a valid one. And one that would loom large over our collective conscience.

    I think a more valuable question is: "what do we do when our self perception changes". Regardless of your own opinions on identity, one thing remains true: Identity crises are painful. It doesn't matter who you are, where you are from, or how many subatomic particles you are made of, an identity crisis is going to be one of the most emotionally excruciating pains you will ever experience. Instead of understanding what distinguishes us, I think it is much more important to figure out what to do when confronted by an identity crisis. Not only will this help you through the pain right now, but it will help you to become the person you need to be to grow and survive in the future.
     
    #82 Aaron Thyne, Jun 4, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2020
  3. Ren

    Ren Pin's android / The Maker / ≅ INFP

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    Why would this warrant a moral crusade? If by "intelligent life form" you mean a life form that was exactly like human beings in all respects except that they don't have electrons—which is at least logically possible, I suppose—then I don't see what problem this raises. They would just be human beings.

    This is a good topic I agree, although not in my opinion a more valuable (or less valuable) one. The two topics are distinct, though I think complementary in some sense.
     
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  4. mintoots

    mintoots hematopoietic

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    Interesting POV, though it's the atoms that give us physique right?
     
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  5. Aaron Thyne

    Aaron Thyne Regular Poster

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    Ok. My point is that we can include literally anything into our identity. Identity is as fluid as humanities sexual orientation. But one thing we haven't figured out yet is how to deal with an identity crisis. Identity crises are literally one of the most significant experiences that every person on the planet has to deal with, yet we have no agreed upon framework to deal with it. Its a clear, lucid problem that stares us in the face, everyday. The question "what is identity" is not as striking.
     
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  6. Aaron Thyne

    Aaron Thyne Regular Poster

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  7. Ren

    Ren Pin's android / The Maker / ≅ INFP

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    Yeah! How's he doing? I didn't know he had a brother :smile:
     
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  8. Aaron Thyne

    Aaron Thyne Regular Poster

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    I have no idea. I texted and asked. Last time I saw him he was volunteering for a political party in New Zealand. Wow, I remember you. He called you Ren-ticular or something. I remember thinking "who the fuck is that". Lol.
     
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  9. Ren

    Ren Pin's android / The Maker / ≅ INFP

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    Ren-ticular? What the heck is that supposed to mean?? :tearsofjoy:

    Well, I'm glad to hear that he's active and out in the world at least.

    What do you mean by 'identity crisis'?—More specifically, can you express it in such a way that it doesn't refer to the concept of identity?

    If you think identity isn't a fundamental concept then you should be able to do away with it. I think it would be clearer for us and would avoid circular references.
     
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  10. OP
    PapillonT

    PapillonT Community Member

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    An interesting point. I agree with Ren on this, that some clarification would be needed.
    If identity is so all-inclusive and could be interpreted as almost anything, then how do you think to set up the framework for "fixing" the problem/looking for a solution without clear idea of what you're solving? Furthermore, if you talk about it in terms of changes of our self-perception, how do you formulate and recognize this "crisis" - how do you know the "crisis" itself isn't just another, ever-changing self-perception? Would the crisis still be so majorly significant?
     
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  11. Wyote

    Wyote Xenoi
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    More like Ren-tacular!
    Or Ren-tick-tockular!
     
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  12. Ren

    Ren Pin's android / The Maker / ≅ INFP

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    :laughing::laughing:
     
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  13. Aaron Thyne

    Aaron Thyne Regular Poster

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    Honestly, I don't know what goes through that mans head sometimes. He once called me a slut thief, then ran away giggling as if he had just told the worlds funniest joke.

    Anyway, I won't even attempt to define identity, I think that's just a hopeless waste of time. What I will do, however, is explain what I think a crisis is, and why it occurs. Essentially, identity crises happen for two reasons.

    1. When a situation causes you to question who you think you are.
    2. When a situation actually changes who you are.

    Suppose your dog dies. She's been your faithful comrade and loyal companion for just over a decade. You love her dearly, and mourn her sudden departure. This is the kind of identity crisis that changes you. Before she dies, you are one person. After she dies, you are another. The death of your friend literally changes who you are. Ill explain why shortly.

    Suppose you've been in a loving, committed marriage for 15 years. Like all relationships, it has it's ups and downs, but nothing particularly earth-shattering. You're cruising through life, all comfortable and content, when suddenly an old friend admits that he had an affair with your wife 2 years after the wedding. In a fit of rage, you punch him the face, ring your wife and demand an explanation. You're flustered, confused, and have an overwhelming desire to make this make sense. It doesn't matter how much your wife is overwhelmed with guilt, you need an explanation, NOW. This is an example of the second type. Let me explain.

    We all know the passing of a loved one is a painful experience. But ask yourself, why is it painful? What is it about the loss of life that has us all in the grips of sorrow and despair? Or to put it more unsympathetically: what is the purpose of sadness? Jordan Peterson has an excellent video on this exact question. In it, he asks us to consider what it is that our bodies are doing when you feel sad. Well, our heart slows, our breathing shallows, we lose the motivation to do anything. For some of us, our desire to communicate, to connect with others temporarily diminishes. We feel a deep urge to be alone with our thoughts and to block out all external distractions. But why exactly? The reason, Peterson thinks, is because it allows us to process what it means for our life going forward.

    We all have an internal framework that helps us to process the world we live in. Among many other things, it helps us to understand: the people that live in it, the values and cultures that govern it, and the forces of nature that limit it. More urgently though, it helps us to manifest ourselves, to build a life for ourselves and "create habitable order out of chaos". There are a lot of dangers in the world, and keeping your mental framework 'up to date' is absolutely essential. To keep chaos from clawing away at our little pockets of life, we need to learn. To continually build on the knowledge we already have and to correct as many errors as we can find. This is where sadness enters the scene. If survival really does depend on our "internal frameworks", on their consistency with reality, then it makes sense that we would feel sadness when something changes. The world has changed, and so must our frameworks.

    The thing with humans is that we evolved to be social. To build intricate social connections and to feel safe and validated when successful. Unfortunately for our cavemen ancestors, this means that the sudden death of a loved one poses a significant threat to survival. The threat was so significant, in fact, that they evolved sadness to compel them into contemplation. To understand what it means for their lives going forwards. This is essentially what an identity crisis is and why it occurs. Something in the world changes, so we go to work trying to figure out what it means for our lives going forward. The closer to home, the more sadness we feel. If my wife cheated on me 13 years ago, what does that mean for our relationship? Is she the person I thought she was, or will she do it again? Will I need to change my life plans or am I overreacting?

    I hope you're seeing it. I'm not good at explaining, so please keep asking questions if you want...
     
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  14. John K

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    Hi Aaron, some interesting thoughts that set me off thinking too! I think some clarification on this first point is worth examining because an atom without electrons is a logical impossibility - a bit like suggesting we consider a square circle. Firstly, because the electric charge of repulsion would prevent atoms made only of protons from aggregating and they would just fly about repelling each other in the form of an electrically charged plasma. Secondly and just as fundamentally, almost everything we experience in our everyday lives arises from the way the electron shells around atoms interact with each other. They are the very basis of all chemistry and without them there would be no biochemistry and no organisms. They are also the means by which we detect solidity - when we think we are in direct contact with an object we are holding, this is false, what we experience is the repulsion between the atoms of our hand and the object - in other words, hardness is actually an experience of electric force, not an actual contact with any 'stuff'. The protons in the cores of atoms are vital too of course because they allow the atom to be electrically neutral, so that atoms can aggregate without repelling each other, but we rarely have direct contact with protons and neutrons on their own, and they are not good news when we do if they are highly energetic.

    But supposing that we came across intelligent life hosted in a different matrix to our own physical nature – is that what you mean? Maybe robotic intelligence based on silicon? Or maybe beings from a parallel universe made of a totally different physics and materiality to our own, fully self-consistent but utterly not like us. Are you saying that we would try and incorporate that into our own identity maybe – or are you questioning whether such beings could have an identity?

    And so this leads me on to the fundamental questions that your thoughts suggest to me. You seem to be raising identity as an issue at the level of humanity rather than at an individual level, which is a fascinating thing in its own right. What is it to be human, and is there more than one way this can be? There is an axiomatic presumption in most folks that humanity as a whole expresses a way of relating to the world that is different from other creatures that we encounter: it’s expressed in all sorts of ways, using attributes such as self-consciousness, intelligence, possession of an immortal soul, knowing the difference between right and wrong, the creation of civilisation. It seems to me that if we encounter beings elsewhere in the universe, or beyond it in parallel universes, then we will certainly identify with them as things of the same status as ourselves. At a personal level, I find it hard to see how we would do the same though, because I am certainly not self-identified as the same as a little green man from Betelgeuse, even if in imagination, though I am likely to grant it similar status as a being.
    But now turning to another though arising from what you said. You describe identity in terms of how it is impacted by crises for example. But now I have to ask who is it that is impacted? There is the experience and that which experiences – these are two different orders of thing I feel. If you strip away the events and impact of each of our lives there is still left behind that which persists, that is our true self – the one that experiences its own continuity back to infancy. The rest is what happens to it, but it would still be the same if something else had happened instead. Of course we could take identity to be the combination of this ultimate self with all the accretions of experiences and decisions and contingencies that happen over our lives, but then there are problems with that: it means that every day we become someone else and the identity we had yesterday is gone into the frozen past. It means that our identity cannot ever be complete until we die. I prefer to see these accretions as things that I carry in my backpack of life, they are not me in my innermost core.
     
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  15. Ren

    Ren Pin's android / The Maker / ≅ INFP

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    Thank you for correcting me, John.

    I was thinking that it was a physical albeit not logical impossibility, but I think you show that it is also a logical impossibility.
     
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  16. InTRovErT34

    InTRovErT34 Community Member

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    Ahhh...a philosophical approach to identity . well the conceptual analysis used in metaphysics, ontological, methodology, still paints a abstract proposition of temporal diachronic,synchronic identity, ambiguous semantics of , consciousness,unity, individuality duality intrinsic, extrinsic evaluation .it's all interesting speculative probabilities but as with solipsism and the fact that one can only prove his /her own consciousness exist.I Propose the perception of identity consciousness and there semantics are rightly introspective of ones self analysis, life perspection a self evident deliniation but still a conjecture at best along with other forms of philosophies and theology.I fully support the love of learning and development of knowledge and it is a human desire to learn ..but us silly little humans need to understand to know we don't know. To many of us disimmulate equivocate our fallacy's as a form of prestidigitation , misnomer to gain power , control example politics, theology,law,,news,and others. it's a terrible human behavior that has spread a mind parasite of dogmatic distortion through the world. And created cognitive dissonance to many people . Regurgitation of others beliefs,thoughts , wants,trends,while meaningless, intangibile identity robbing memeplexes creating a hive mind mentally that's soul purpose is replication ,reformation digression of freethinking , and individuality imposeing circular thinking encapsulation of potentiality, division control. False narrative.
    I am not speaking to anyone who reads this in predetermination of your character I''m spreading logical facts about human behavior covert manipulation legerdemain infringement of rights , deprivation of character. law of commerce, admiralty law ,capitis diminitio maxima ..I have a lot of indignation I apologise this is not a attach on anyone I am calling a spade a spade ..
     
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  17. Roses In The Vineyard

    Roses In The Vineyard Community Member

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  18. Ren

    Ren Pin's android / The Maker / ≅ INFP

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    Isn't the consequence of your account that the only thing we can do about an identity crisis is allow ourselves to be sad and to contemplate, hoping that the result will be that the crisis is eventually resolved? Are you happy with this consequence? Otherwise it is definitely an interesting theory, though it seems to me to fail to account for the significant number of cases where sadness does not suffice, or when a person ends up a prisoner to their own sadness.

    At what moment do you think the 'true self' comes into being, John? Isn't the very event of biological conception something that 'happens' to it and therefore something that cannot be accepted into its identity?
     
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  19. John K

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    That’s a fascinating question. Some speculation .....

    There is an issue of whether the first awareness of self in a child is an awakening, or a fresh creation, a second birth. I think of it as a gradual awakening of something laid down during gestation (analogous to the way that a mother produces the eggs of her grandchildren in her unborn daughter). The problem I have is that if this awareness isn’t an awakening of something there already but a new thing, then we may have to consider that the self is destroyed during sleep or unconsciousness then recreated afresh on awakening.

    I think that the awakening to self isn’t restricted to early childhood. It’s a process and there can be a series of awakenings that carry on into adulthood each of which brings us closer to who and what we are - but this doesn’t happen to everyone. Again we have to avoid confusing experiences and attributes with the self even with these. I don’t think these later awakenings change the self but hold ever clearer mirrors up so that we can see better.

    I’m talking from a secular viewpoint here - taking a spiritual view, of course, identity exists independently of a particular physical existence from some religious viewpoints and is illusory in others, which sidesteps the question in either case.
     
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  20. Hostarius

    Hostarius Gimme that WOAD

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    It's interesting how medieval theologians ascribed a precise 'age' to 'free-will' (for Savonarola it was 7 years), before which time they were entirely motivated by the grace of God.

    And here too 7 or 8 is around the age where a lot of people have their first existential thoughts; where their perception of the world is changed forever. It's something immediate - an awakening.

    We can imagine the necessary structures in the brain developing slowly, but only resulting in the phenomenon of 'awakening' once a critical mass is achieved, or, perhaps more interestingly, once the conscious experience of 'awakening' is had - that first existential thought. There's something concrete and finite about consciousness here, quite apart from the generalised 'capacities' that the brain might possess. We only think what we think, and nothing more, despite the vast possibility of what we are able to think. These thoughts only come to us in real moments of time.
     
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