Bikash Kalita : Your Life, Your Choice

Are we the same we? The complexity of personal identity


“Integrity of identity that persists over time, undergoing changes and yet still continuing to be.”

And are we the same children that we were? Am I the same person what I was when I was a child? And what I am now? I was a child once.

According to Philosophers and New Age sages, the self is a spiritual crutch. According to Modern psychologists the self is a socially constructed illusion.

If you take it proper look at yourself, you’ll find that your present self is recognizably different from your past selves. And this is true for everyone. We have been through so many changes in our lives that our past selves often are very different from our present selves.. Change is constant and everyone goes through it. So if our present self will be different from our future self, why are we so much worried about our present self? Is it ego? Or something else?

Probably the only thing that can justify the change is the change for betterment. We then do and would emphasise on being better than what we were. As a human being, it is our nature to strive to become better, we improve ourselves over the time. This is the normal process and this is what nature intends with the changes that we often go through. But does it always happen as intended?

No, sometimes we feel that the condition is worse compared to the past. This is abnormal and even though it is abnormal, it happens. According to the normal condition, we would grow physically and mentally all the time. We grow both physically and mentally to become an adult from being a child.

Philosopher, writer, and MacArthur Fellow Rebecca Goldstein says-

“Personal identity: What is it that makes a person the very person that she is, herself alone and not another, an integrity of identity that persists over time, undergoing changes and yet still continuing to be — until she does not continue any longer, at least not unproblematically?”

The child that I was is different from what I am today. Our bodies  are different- that is for sure and if our bodies are different, our point of views are even more so. So how am I the same person? How do I have the same personal identity that I had when I was a child? How can the personal identity be the same? How can I be the same person when I am an adult at present?

10 years from now, another person will be there with different thinking, point of view, ideas, which will be different from what you are today. And there will be so many dissimilarities and differences between the future you and the present you that it will be difficult to believe that the person is actually the same. Are they? The personal identity of both these two persons are different even though the person is the same one.

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