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Each of us is an individual, however just a few are personalities.
The problem of self-definition is “as old as world”. It appeared in human mind, probably, after developing language skills when ancient sapientes had to socialize to break through life-threatening conditions which were caused by other more or less thinking prototypes of human gender. Being in a group of alike creatures made a human put the threshold of influence of another members of a tribe. He had to separate himself from society and put the categories, which turned out to be different not for each person, but for various groups, to make the definition of what he was. However, what for? Definitely not to be able to feel special, to feel closer to &覔bermensch. He might have done it for making better profit and benefit for himself because interests of the group always lessen possibilities of one single individual. Little rebellion against linea vitae media which created the base for discussion for all independent from instincts centuries.
Hundreds of years of evolution, complication of brain structures, “revolution” of collective and individual consciousness brought us to the same point. The circle is closed. Our identity (whatever we input in this word) is still a tool which helps us confront the society. Just the explanation of its origin became complicated and found its interpretation in many material and intangible entities. Personality is one of those phenomena which can exist in each human mind without clear explanation (although many people don’t trouble their heads about explaining the things they observe just memorizing them as a given). It was told to be the product of vis vitalis, the main condition of life itself, immortal soul (dualism of Descartes), which brings ratio into body mechanisms, but nowadays, when material existence conquered all attempts of manifestation of intangible world, the most popular explanation includes the bond between brain structures and chemical reactions that help to incarnate this connection. Though, this idea isn’t a great discovery of modern civilization. Ancient Greek philosophers and physicians were convinced that our mind and identity were kept into the structure they called epiphysis what literally means “over life”. But since the real functions of this organ (to be exact gland) were defined and it turned out that it’s not somehow related to our consciousness, scientists tried to find something else in our brain to “accuse” it of our existence. And they are still in process. Perceptual binding puzzle hasn’t been solved yet.
But what are we? Are we what we know about ourselves (or at least what we consider ourselves to be) or how other people perceive us? Probably both. Those two parts of identity are connected and can’t be separated from each other. Our self-knowledge is based on memory which is the product of brain activity. We make a holistic vision of what we call “we” referring to our experience which is made up of different memories (in this case motor memory and “physical abilities” are also included) and facts from the past. We analyze our behavior and how we acted in different situations, choose the patterns which were used the most often and call them our traits. But if we eliminated our memory or turned it into completely short-term one (as it happened with the one of the most popular “patients” Henry Molaison after hippocampus surgery), would we still exist as a personality and not just as living mechanism? Even if we don’t have any memories about ourselves, we still exist as an image in other people’s mind so why not. But is that us? Is all what our acquaintances “know” about us real? Of course not and there’re enough reasons for that. First, our life isn’t a daily newspaper which can be read by anyone who is willing. Even if we gather information from all the people who know us, it will never be enough to make the full image. Second, we don’t always act in the way we would like to. We have to “correct” our behavior and choose another patterns to fit in society and current surrounding. Thus we make people see not the real identity, but a pre-made image. And the last point includes the fact that all people have their own way to perceive reality based on their experience and patterns. And if we don’t fit in their common vision of life, if our behavior is out of their understanding, they will unconsciously change the real image of us which they have in their mind so that they can avoid getting confused or disappointed with life.
However, as it was already mentioned, we tend to build our system of life on materialistic sides of the world which surrounds us. That’s why many people reckon that their identities are just what they regularly see in the mirror. Those alive mechanisms which help us to embody our ideas and plans and need repairing and recharging from time to time.
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