Sunday, October 17, 2010

the self as social construction

Identity is based on: consciousness/present awareness, memory, and relationships with other people and their memory and consciousness. Without these things, you have no identity. If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear it, did it make a sound? Can something exist without it being perceived? Without an objective transcendental God, no. Perception is dependent on the perceiver. If you lose your memory, your past identity disappears. Only because other people remember who you were, does a former remnant of your past identity remain. But take away those people and your previous identity disappears.

In one sense, then without your memory or consciousness, your relations with other people constitute your identity. Your personal identity is the composite of relational experiences that make up your personal history.

When near death, most people reminisce about the experiences of deep connections they had with others--family, friends, and colleagues. It is the empathetic moments in one's life that are the most powerful memories and the experiences that comfort and give a sense of connection, participation, and meaning to one's sojourn.

Is it no surprise then that over and over again in happiness research and throughout the teachings of every religion around the world, that happiness is said to be fundamentally centered around the quality of one's relations with other people, especially one's close friends and family. These people know you best, they are your link to this current life. They provide connection, meaning, and most importantly, existence.

When one’s very identity is relational and exists only to the extent one is embedded in a plethora of relationships, to be denied access is to be isolated and to cease to exist.

No comments:

Post a Comment