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How to know yourself and explore your ‘personal identity’

In this increasingly anonymous world it’s becoming harder and harder to know oneself. Is this a generational thing or a technological thing? One could argue it’s a bit of both. Older people will tirelessness wax poetic about how things used to be and how soft we are all now but the fact of the matter is that the growth of personal identity is a very good thing for the development of humanity.

This generation is labelled selfish and narcissistic for wanting to understand themselves. As a result mental health awareness has spread like wildfire which is both a blessing and a curse.

If you’ve ever wanted to know why those personality quizzes are so popular on social media, have you ever considered people just want an anchor to give them some identity.

This fantastic video from The School of Life walks you through the philosophy of personal identity. “What is it that makes us most distinctly ourselves”. Here are the highlights in case you don’t have the time to watch the whole thing:

  • We carry the same name throughout our lives but our entire biological structure changes numerous times – are we the same thing?
  • The body is what we consider the vessel for personal identity, but this might not be right.
  • We assume that some parts of our bodies represent ‘you’ more than others. Like the brain, for example.
  • In Christianity, the ‘you’ is commonly referred to as the soul.
  • We want to be loved for this thing that is closer to ‘us’, be it the brain or the soul.
  • Technical capacities aren’t very close to what we consider ‘personal identity’.
  • If your characteristic way of responding to situations remains the same you can claim to be the same person.
  • Personal identity exists not in the body or memory but in our character or “sameness of consciousness”.