Who Are We??

Who are we?

 

This was basically a question asked by Stephen Hunter (a writer on WriterBeat) with a nod to Pete Townsend. He advised us to peer deeply into a mirror, put ego to one side and ask ourselves what was the essence of our selves.

We all, I am sure, have a deep sense of identity. We view ourselves as individuals who can exert will. We can make choices about what we believe, what we like, what we associate with. Free will is at the center of our concept of self. It is the basis of our laws as well as our identity.

Religious people might believe our essence is spiritual in nature.

Political people might think that they chose a political stance out of some conviction held by their inner self.

Law enforcers will insist that we exercised free will in carrying out criminal acts and can be persuaded not to do so.

Yet do we really have any free will?

Some psychologists think not. They say our ‘inner self’ is no more than a construct of our upbringing, culture and experience. They also believe that that ‘inner self’ changes with time and experience – that those changes are usually slow so we do not notice. Wouldn’t it be interesting to go back and inhabit the mind of our younger self? I’m sure we’d be shocked. We assume that our views, which we see as naïve, might have changed but our inner self will be constant. But is it?

What seems to be true is that if we had been brought up in a different culture we’d believe in different things. We’d have a different religion and cultural values, different tastes and even feelings. But would our inner self be different?

You know – I think it would. Despite my strongly held views and robust sense of identity I suspect we are all products of our time and place. There is no inner self at all. It’s an illusion.

16 thoughts on “Who Are We??

  1. The whole free will debate is so fascinating! I learnt about it in Philosophy and it really got me thinking and I agree we are all products of our time and place.

  2. Namaste Opher 🙂

    Interesting! 🙂

    How far down the worm-hole does one go with their thinking to arrive at a definitive statement about existence, or consciousness? It’s certainly a question to stretch the little grey cells on this Sunday evening!

    I’ll give it some thought: but my initial response might be that our inner-self is an ideal memory of a fantastical period in our lives – our childhood, our formative years, our first sense of self, of the aspect we might have referred to as ‘me’ – when we had sense of wonder and an open-heart unburdened by life’s experience. It was a golden age for most people. But whether this construct of memory exists at all is another matter. It’s certainly an archive of some ‘ethereal’ description we dip in-and-out of at various times in our life.

    I might also offer the suggestion that we are constantly in flux, perpetually transitioning between states – some more significant than others – and all whilst knowing we are finite. Perhaps because we are mortal we seek comfort in this construct called memory?

    Hoping your weekend has been enjoyed. Have a great week.

    Namaste 🙂

    DN

    1. Hi Dewin – yeah – I think we’re in constant flux around a basic set of traits. I find it fascinating to think about.
      Keep thinking. Let me know what you conclude.
      Have a great week!!

  3. I think our inner-self is a collection of our experiences. I think we can move from being very black and white to gray in our thinking as we age. But only if we pay attention to what our experiences combine to tell us. “An unexamined life is not worth living.”

  4. “I think, therefor I am” Therein lies the conundrum. Which ‘think’ informs the inner me? Or is it the inner me that is doing all the thinking and the rest of me is an illusion, or a work in progress, in a constant state of flux 🙂

      1. I agree. I think our identity changes over time – along with our values, beliefs, experiences, life events. A stable core? Intuitively it feels to me like there is an inner stable core, a foundation. Maybe a teeny, tiny, weeny little one ????

      2. I don’t know Raili. I’d like to think so. I’d like to believe I’m really me but I suspect I am nothing more than the product of my experience. I do not exist.

      3. But then, who ARE you? How do those experiences coalesce into ‘you’? Something has to be driving the energy and entity that is called Opher.

      4. Psychology is wonderful isn’t it? How does consciousness work?
        Have you seen those experiments with false arms and hammers?

        or

        Our consciousness and concept of our body is easily fooled.

  5. The self, the inner self is a mental construct indeed influenced by culture and time and circumstance, but it’s also true that it is universal. Likewise a belief in a Higher Power is universal. Personally, speaking for my self (sorry), I have most contact or perception of my inner self when I’m thinking of nothing at all.

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