Identity: How do you define it? | Page 6 | INFJ Forum

Identity: How do you define it?

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

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  1. Aaron Thyne

    Aaron Thyne Regular Poster

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    No. Just because this is the way we evolved does not mean this is how we should act. We should do whatever works, not whatever is "natural".
     
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  2. Ren

    Ren Pin's android / The Maker / ≅ INFP

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    This is interesting, but my question was not about the coming into being of self-consciousness (the self's awareness of itself as a self). It was about the coming into being of the self as such.

    If you believe that what happens to us is only a kind of 'bag pack' to the true self, then the self is not affected by contingency. And since coming into being is a kind of contingency, that can't apply to it either, so it must always have existed. It is an immortal soul that just happens to be contingently embodied and historically embedded.

    I'm not saying this view is wrong by the way, just that I cannot see how it can avoid leading back to a conception of the self as an immortal soul. And if it is an immortal soul, then it would make sense that only by some kind of divine revelation can we mere contingent beings develop genuine awareness of our true self.
     
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  3. John K

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    I was exploring and not being clear enough - I'll carry on a bit more, but I'm rambling around this rather than expressing any sense of certainty.

    I have two reasons for exploring awareness of self: Firstly, what I was considering was whether the self comes into being around the time we first become aware of it, maybe even as a consequence of becoming self-aware - or whether it exists before then. I don't much like the idea of the former, because it implies an interdependency between awareness and existence that is only a step away from saying the self is intermittent. So my feeling is that the self is not dependent on self-awareness. There are then a couple of possibilities - either (i) it comes into existence at the moment of conception, during gestation, or infancy; or (ii) it's existence is independent of a physical host but can exist 'symbiotically' with one (in quotes because it is a metaphor) through some kind of association process at some point during gestation or infancy. Both seem plausible though different people will give different comparative levels of probability to each. I favour (ii) on religious grounds - if I were to constrain myself to purely secular grounds then I'd go for the self coming into existence sometime in early gestation.

    There is another reason for looking at the kind of awareness we have of the self though, because it is the source of the subjective information we have about it. It can no more see itself directly than can our eyes - they both need some sort of mirror, and that means that what we can see is not the actual thing, but a virtual copy of it reflected back and one which will have distortions. The main distortion is probably confusing the self with the ego, which is both full of attributes and only has access to a part of the whole psyche, whereas the self is at the core of everything within our psyche. It's even possible that this can flip, and the ego identifies the self as in opposition and conflates it as part of the shadow.

    There is a question you hint at which is whether the self can develop or whether it is an irreducible atom of I-ness. Just pondering this, it seems to me that it's a subset of a larger issue, which includes whether the self exists at all, or at the other extreme whether there is anything but self, whether there is only one self, or many of them, how does a self come into existence if they do exist, and can they cease to exist? LOL tug on this string and every impossible issue in philosophy seems to come bouncing along into sight! For what it's worth, I think that selves are immortal, but they do develop so that contingency does leave it's mark - I cannot begin to say how there might be structure in a self or how the process of change would affect it, but there are no doubt volumes written in Sanskrit that make a stab at it. It seems to me that they can in a sense grow or shrink in response to the way they interact with their physical existence, primarily based on their choices - there are religious ways of expressing this, as there are in Jung and other experiential psychological or philosophical systems, but as far as I can a lot of this is analogous to chemical science, while study of the self requires the psychological analogue of particle physics.

    I still keep coming back to the relationship between identity and the self. Is the self it's own identity, or is identity a label attached to the self plus certain other attributes? We can define identity in a number of different ways, and I don't think these are of necessity mutually exclusive, but each of value in a variety of domains. I would say that at its most fundamental, a self is its own identity - the other definitions seem to me to be associated with a variety of different composites for the puropse of functional utility.

    Like I said, I'm exploring this as I write Ren, so I'm speculating quite a lot, even if I put my spiritual hat on.
     
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  4. TheFool

    TheFool Community Member

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    Identity is a tricky word. Some might identify themselves with variety of mental constructs as parts of who or what we are. But in the end all mental constructs are “outside” and perceived within our mind. Despite we might identify ourselves with any of the constructs none of them are lasting but ever changing. Therefore we need to accept that as our nature or reject it as our true source of being.

    There is a subtle part within everyone’s beingness that just is, kind of a sense of “I am”. This Iamness seems to exists no matter where or when we are and it seems to be unchanging, yet not rigid. More like a lotus flower floating on the surface of water allowing the water to move as it will. Our mind and the mental constructs are like that water, transparent but sometimes a but murky. The part of our awareness that perceives our minds and yet is aware of itself being in this ever blooming present of nowness, is like of that lotus. By reminding yourself of that sense of beingness, you can start to see more clearly what is actually you and what is not. Sometimes this can become very apparent and it feels like there is a part of you that is beyond everything else, just silently observing.

    The more often you “reach” that state of seeing, the longer it lasts. First it might feel scary. Suddenly everything you have identified yourself with is now seen as something that you are not, fundamentally. In the end this is what you have always been. Just not aware of it. ;)
     
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  5. Ren

    Ren Pin's android / The Maker / ≅ INFP

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    Woops, sorry for not returning to this, the notification must have slipped by me at the time.

    I'll get back to you tomorrow probably, my energy levels are low right now :D
     
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  6. Ren

    Ren Pin's android / The Maker / ≅ INFP

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    Very interesting. Does this mean that according to you, this sense of beingness or Iamness has no content? And so that identity is in a sense without content?

    Or do you think that there is such a thing as unchanging content?
     
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  7. Ren

    Ren Pin's android / The Maker / ≅ INFP

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    I think answering this question depends on how one conceives of identity. If, for example, you think that the idea of a continuously changing identity is untenable (because e.g. that would mean every day we would wake up being a different person, etc.) then I think it would be more compelling to say the self is its own identity. There is a metaphysical cost for this view, in my opinion, which is the acceptance of dualism, i.e. an ontology which is less parsimonious than monism and faces the challenge of accounting for the interaction between substance and contingency, i.e. the self and the terrestrial body it happens to inhabit.

    I'm not sure I find the alternative—identity being the self + a set of other attributes—as compelling, because it inherits the same challenges as the first view (dualism, accounting for substance-contingency interaction, etc.) with an added challenge, e.g. explaining how identity fluidity is possible. I mean, you could escape that objection if you said the 'other attributes' are themselves not subject to change, but in that case why not include them in the structure of the self to begin with?

    Given the above I'd favor either the unchanging self as the 'pure' identity or else fluid identity that doesn't contain a reference to substance (thus avoiding dualism). At least both options would each have their advantages and challenges. Note that only the second option can accommodate the agency of self-perception in the definition of identity, since self-perception changes over time. But of course the second option also faces huge challenges, especially that of defending the idea that a continuously changing identity is even a coherent concept.
     
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  8. TheFool

    TheFool Community Member

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    I have not found anything that is inherently tangible but it seems that one aspect of the whole remains still, awareness which appears to illuminate our ability to experience life, existence and non-existence. Awareness seems to be like the oil of a seed which is not seen and yet it exists in all parts of the seed.

    When you observe sense sensations there is nothing that is truly tangible. It just appears to be so, like a mirage. The same goes for thoughts, identity, the self. They appear to be there and yet are not. At the same time as mental constructs appear from nowhere, they recede to nowhere. I do not know if the thoughts themselves are aware of themselves or if they appear as ever continuing drops / moments of awareness. But I know that even if there is not thoughts, no identity, no space, no time; awareness remains as aware and awake. As awareness I mean more like wakefulness, beingness. Not attention-awareness.

    Difficult to explain...
     
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  9. Ren

    Ren Pin's android / The Maker / ≅ INFP

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    I think I know what you mean by awareness. A kind of experiential 'openness to the world' which is built into our existential constitution.

    We are before we know. Heidegger rather than Descartes ;)
     
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  10. Impact Character

    Impact Character folding paper cranes ⭐

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    *throws in a cheeky..*

    "doing before understanding"
     
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  11. John K

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    This feels right to me. I can be who I am without being able to think, but thinking without that suchness is pure automaton. It's the same with feelings as with thoughts - these are not me but things that i manifest and experience. Pushing things a bit further though, I find that the whole issue evaporates into a paradox when I realise that my ability to be aware of myself is yet another of these faculties that are not-me: it's just another part of the virtual reality conjured by my psyche which I hope, but cannot be absolutely sure, is tightly linked to some genuine external reality. For me, it's an act of faith, something that has to be treated as an axiom, to accept that there is an external reality that my total range of awareness is mirroring. That includes my self awareness.

    In part, in my early pondering, I was looking more at the semantics of 'identity' as much as it's philosophical depths. It's like the word 'love' which is overused and can mean such different things in different contexts that we really need different words to express them clearly. For example, we've just passed on an old car to one of my sons and as far as the UK authorities are concerned, my identity consists of my driving licence number, linked to ancillary attributes such as my name and address. All they are interested in is distinguishing me physically and uniquely from any other UK driver in a way that they can access easily and link to any car I'm driving (uniquely identified by it's registration and engine chassis numbers) and that's what they mean by identity. There are a myriad similar examples.
     
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  12. John K

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    Interestingly, that's probably how animal brains operate on instinct as far as I can see. They are hard-wired to respond with action and without thought to given stimuli - and so are humans too to a considerable extent. I'm sure some of the more developed animals have some power of discriminatory thought as well, but the instinctual balance is far higher with them.
     
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  13. Themis

    Themis Community Member

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    Yeah its kind of like that
    A dog reacts on a stimulus and barks, the dog has no Ego, he never thinks, hmmm did i bark right? The cat liked it? Maybe is better if i bark lauder tomorrow.
    Animals live in the present moment, because they know their identity, the don't criticize their existence, animals accepting them selfs the way they are.
    Humans don't, their Ego tries constantly to build their identity, to control everything, their moves, their thoughts, their actions
    I get to think that our identity is a product of our Ego, its not actually as. In the eyes of an animal, we are gods because they see the human as it is, they don't see the identity we build for our self, they don't care about it.

    We trying to build an identity in our lives
    but we forget that we already have one
     
  14. just me

    just me GONE

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    https://www.openbible.info/topics/self_denial

    Let us consider who we are: how can we divide our self into something that is just each of us alone?
    I sought to find God, and was shown my true self. In so doing, I found it impossible to be separated from God.

    For someone can easily tread upon one's self values. I was tread upon yesterday, but something happened immediately to open another door. I cannot think my self walked through that small and tiny door by myself, for there were others at work seeking to help me. My true self is not alone, for I walk in the spirit. I see it more as what we identify ourselves with.
     
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    #114 just me, Jul 7, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2020
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  15. Ace17

    Ace17 Newbie

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    Such an interesting topic, I think about it all of the time!

    I think it really depends on the person, honestly. I tend to lean in the direction that it's something that's continuously evolving. As you learn more about the things you're interested in, you may choose not to identify with them anymore, and maybe look to another place for identity.

    I know plenty of people who are born into a particular environment, and they absorb it wholly. They believe what their parents believe. They take on all of their traditions, food choices, religions, etc - and they don't question it. I know others who completely rebel against the traditions and ideals of their community, some to be contrarian, but others don't see the logic in participating in certain practices just because everyone else in their community does.

    Lots of people I know identify by their ethnicity, their country of origin, or their location in the US, but I never really did. I happen to be born in this body, and I happen to live in the US, but it just feels like dumb luck to me. There are different sides to me (like all of you), so a little piece of my identifies with being a musician, and another with car enthusiast etc, but I never really cling to one thing too aggressively.
     
  16. TheFool

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    The eye cannot turn around and look at itself. It can only perceive that which it is not. In that same way, awareness cannot be perceived. It only perceives that which it is not.

    So if you try to see your own awareness while being aware of your pursuit of seeing, you are focusing on something that is not you. The part or more like that space where this pursuit of trying to see yourself is being done is what you truly are. And yet not, since there is no solid ground for the awareness that just perceives everything in this ever present moment of nowness. There is just seeingness and the sense of beingness together, creating space for all mental constructions to manifest themselves.

    The error arises as we mistakenly believe to be those mental constructions when in reality “we” are the space of awareness where everything is seen, not that what we are seeing. :)

     
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    #116 TheFool, Jul 14, 2020
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  17. wolly.green

    wolly.green Permanent Fixture

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    I'm disappointed he's dropping my name. :laughing:
     
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  18. wolly.green

    wolly.green Permanent Fixture

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    Someones been reading Jordan Peterson. :smirk:
     
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  19. Ren

    Ren Pin's android / The Maker / ≅ INFP

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    Thanks to your brother, we now know for certain that you're a weirdo :tonguewink:
     
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  20. GreenTea

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    In meditation the attention shifts to pure awareness / beingness / the sense of I Am. Occasionally it seems there is a permanent change in attention and those people are aware of themselves as awareness all the time. I understand identification with awareness to be freedom.
     
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