2 Jul 2011

What Does it Mean to be You?

I watched an interesting video the other day, in which British philosopher Julian Baggini speaks about the Self, personal identity and what it means to be 'You'.
I found it so gripping I wanted to share it here.

As philosophers go, his speech doesn't give answers, but it does spark a lot of ideas and reflections to eventually come up with our own.

I liked that he doesn't automatically subscribe to the notion that loosening your sense of Self, or detaching yourself from your Ego is the ultimate goal and the ideal way to go if you want to become more compassionate.

I've encountered that idea a lot in very intelligent, caring and spiritual people, but I'm still not sure I agree with it. Maybe it's part of being a Leo, or maybe it means I'm way too attached to my Ego and nowhere near spiritual enlightenment, but I believe more in refining and educating your Self as a means to understand and recognise other people's individual perspectives on the world.

I have the impression that my sense of Self and my personal pride don't so much hinder me as rather help me to take other's Selves into account in my own decisions and in the way I live my life. I might of course be deluding myself.

Either way, here's Julian Baggini's speech. It's about 20 minutes long. Enjoy!

Julian Baggini is the author of several books and articles and together with psychotherapist Antonia Macaro  he writes a column for Financial Times Magazine, called 'The Shrink and The Sage'.
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  1. "As philosophers go, his speech doesn't give answers"
    that's why I love to hate philosophers :)

    Yes, I agree with you, I need to work on my SELF a lot and develop it more before I say goodbye to it :)

  2. 'I have the impression that my sense of Self and my personal pride don't so much hinder me as rather help me to take other's Selves into account in my own decisions and in the way I live my life.'

    I like this, K. C.

  3. DEZZY: it'd be a definite shame to say goodbye to your particular SELF :-)

    Suze: it seems to be the way for me at this point, which doesn't mean it's the truth for everybody, or that I'll never change my mind. :-)

  4. It's hard to hold on to one's self when the world keeps telling you who you are to fit their paradigms. We do that, I think, because it's easier to categorize and then move on than have to deal with the complexity of the people in our lives. And, with that process, we lose ourselves and/or are always questioning if the self we think we are is, in fact, the self we are -- omg, I need a soapbox... Have a great Fourth, whoever you are!

  5. There's so many people in this world, I think self worth is more irrelevant these days than ever because a lot of people have become so homogenized.

  6. I think as we get older, and take on so many different roles, we can lose our sense of self. It's important to hang on to some of it though, and not be all the people we're expected to be.

  7. Sharlene: I wonder if that's possible: losing ourselves. Wouldn't the compromising and questioning be part of who we are?

    Timmy: I'm not sure I agree with your conclusion. I would think that living in more homogenised cultures makes our individuality and self-worth more important.

    Ellie: I think the tendency / underlying motivations to take on those roles are a part of who we are, but the roles can cloud our perception of Self for sure, and make us wonder about our identity.
    I liked the point Julian Baggini plays with in his speech that Self might not be a static core, but something that emerges from a collection of psychological attributes like memories, desires, beliefs, knowledge, ....

  8. Unfortunately, I sometimes lose myself but that only happens when...ah, never mind. ;P

    I sent an email asking if you had a blog, but I found it so disregard. :)

  9. For me there has to be a balance of ego and self. I've known full-blown Narcissists who are incapable of feeling empathy because they can't let go of a teeny bit of ego.

  10. I love fascinating philisophical discussion, KC, but my post-holiday/wedding mind is refusing to concentrate on the whole video. The problem is, of course, that are no definitive answers to these types of question which is why they are interesting.

    I reckon our identity is constantly changing throughout life, but our core self is formed in childhood. The most interesting item I read a while back in a magazine was that, if we want to know what our true personality is, we should think back to what we were like just before puberty (about 11 years). And it seems to work!

  11. "I have the impression that my sense of Self and my personal pride don't so much hinder me as rather help me to take other's Selves into account in my own decisions and in the way I live my life."

    As a fellow Leo, this really struck me. I hear you.

  12. Alleged Author: now you've made me curious! :-)

    Manzanita: I agree that balance is so very important. However, I don't think inability to let go of one's ego causes a lack of empathy. I think they're separate things, even though they might occur together.

    Rosemary: I fully understand. I'd started watching it late one evening and stopped, then watched it again the next day when my mind could focus again. :-) It's an interesting point, the right-before-puberty idea. I'll have to think about that. :-)

    Sam: =)


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