Over the last few decades, the intertwined concepts of self and identity have been systematically researched from many perspectives and some of the findings are nothing less than paradigmatic. In much of the 20th century, behaviorism and psychoanalysis dominated academic psychology but now with the emergence of cognitive science and cross-cultural research, the understandings of self and identity have made immense progress and have significant implications for matters as salient as perception and personality, ethics and education, aesthetics and politics, culture and metaphysics. Indeed, our whole experience of being in the world, as unique individuals as well as members of specific groups, is influenced by such understandings.
From one perspective, identity is the group within the self; from another perspective, it is the self within the group. Much of what we desire to do or what happens to us in the world is significantly influenced by the way world perceives us, and the way we define ourselves--consciously or unconsciously. The process of making the unconscious (biological, cultural, personal), relatively more conscious over time, is indeed what distinguishes human beings from all other animals. Perhaps the greatest benefit of the human capacity for objective self-awareness is that it allows human beings to control their own behavior, to make thoughtful choices and take full responsibility for them.
The purpose of this month-long discussion will be to disseminate and integrate some major interdisciplinary thoughts about self and identity and discern their implications for self-awareness and self-education.
Please share your thoughts and observations as we develop this discussion. Thanks.