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The Concept of Self or Identity Essay


The concept of self is defined as the characteristics which make an individual unique from other people. People behave differently because of the different characteristics each one possesses. The self is responsible for the actions that one takes as well as his/her thoughts. Philosophers have played a major role in the study of the concept of self. Identity is defined as a state in which an individual possess characteristics which make him/her unique in the sense that no other person holds the same characteristics.

These are the characteristics which make an individual to be recognized and separated from a particular group. According to me, the terms identity and self are closely related in meaning. Both terms refer to characteristics which make an individual different from other people in terms of behavior. In my discussion, I will combine these terms because they simply mean the same (Roach 89).

There are several ways through which the concept of self is formed. The characteristics which make an individual different from other people is what make individuals personality. People think and behave the way they do because of various reasons. An individual’s identity may be influenced by other people. Peoples behavior may be influenced by the way other people like us to be. For example students behave according to the rules and regulations of the school. Some may not be willing but they are forced to obey.

The Christian doctrine teaches its followers the expected behavior of a Christian. Individual’s behavior is therefore influenced by other people. There are many theories which explain the concept of identity. These theories provide foundation for the reasons behind an individual’s behavior. During the various stages of development, individuals acquire knowledge which influences their future behavior (Roach 98).

The biological theory asserts that nature is responsible for the behavior that an individual portrays. The results of philosopher’s research show that individuals identity is related to the individuals genetic make up. An individual’s identity is formed by genes. Our genes determine whether we will be good, bad, sad or even happy people.

Biological theorists believe that characteristics are passed down from the parents to the off springs a process known mutation. This is the process through which genes combine during the process of reproduction. It is assumed that children born of harsh parent will inherit that character.

As far as academics is concerned, biological theorists assume that children born of dull parents are usually poor in class work. The behavior that people exhibit is therefore acquired naturally from the parents through inheritance. These theorists have however been criticized because research has shown that this is not always true. Cases have been witnessed where for example tall parents have brought up short children. Also there are cases where rude children are born of polite parents (Engler 102).

Another theory put forward to explain identity is behavior theory. Behavior theorists assert that an individual’s identity is determined by the environment in which an individual is brought up. These theorists concentrate on the behaviors which can be observed. They assume that each person takes the responsibility of the actions which he takes and should be accountable for them.

The society is based on rules and regulations which an individual should follow failure to which strict actions should be taken. All institutions like schools, hospitals, working places have rules which help in maintaining order in the society. If children are brought up in a society with no established rules, they are likely to grow in to immoral members of the society who engage in crimes.

If an individual is brought up by religious parents, the child is likely to grow up into a reliable family member because he will follow the example portrayed by the parents. Many adolescents are influenced by peer pressure in schools. As they socialize and interact with people of their age, they borrow from each others behavior. A child who interacts with bad company finally becomes an immoral member in the society. Behavior theorists assert that that nurture is responsible for behavior portrayed by an individual (Engler 70).

Humanistic theorists assert that an individual identity is based on free will. This is acting according to individual’s desires. They assume that people’s behavior should not be controlled. People should be allowed to choose what they need from what they do not need. People are different in the sense that they have different desires and interests.

Since they are different, they should not be treated equally. Establishment of standard rules in a society may favor some people and at the same time be a threat to another group. Before establishment of rules, the society should ensure that the laws favor all the members of the society. Humanistic theorists assume that the behavior exhibited by an individual is based on his desires and interests. People engage in activities which fulfill the desires of their heart (Kun 190).

Sigmund feuds theory of psychodynamic also explains the concept of identity. According to him, there are three main components of personality. These are the idi, the ego and the super ego. These are the main determinants of an individual’s behavior. It is the responsibility of the id to cater for the needs and desires an individual. The ego controls the moral behaviors while the superego is the mediator of the id and the ego. According to him, an individual’s behavior is based on the three aspects (Kun 200).

The identity of an individual is not permanent. It is subjected to many changes. For instance, law and order in the society has enabled people’s change of personality. Strict measures are taken against wrong doors like thieves, rapists and other people who engage in immoral activities.

Such people are punished according to the law and taken to rehabilitation centers where they are trained on the expected behavior in the society. Many of them come out of rehabilitation centers as moral people and change their identity. Religion also shapes the behavior of society members. People are trained on what is right and wrong. Religions counts a lot for the conversion of immoral society members to respective and reliable members of the society (Bergen 80).

David Hume explained the concept of personal identity in the bundle theory of the self. According to Hume, human body is made up of different perceptions which, interacts with one another and change from time to time. He was determined to understand the problems arising between the mind and the body. He argued that people tend to think, that they are the same they used to be in some years back but in the real sense, many aspects of the body have already changed.

He was against the view that characteristics born by an individual are different from the person himself. According to Hume, the soul is composed of different related elements which are constantly changing. Plato identity theory of mind asserts that element and states of the mind and brain are identical. This however does not imply that the brain and mind are identical. According to the theory, experiences like pain and anger are processes of the brain (Bergen 106).

Social construct is the concept or practice followed by an individual or a particular group. Social construct depends on the contingent variables of an individual rather than the characteristics inherited from the parents. Social construct is basically determined by the choices made by people rather than natural laws or laws arising from the divine will.

Social construct involves the ways through which social activities are created, in institutions and made a tradition by human beings. For instance, societies are constructed in different ways. Each society has its own laws and cultural practices which they follow. Society members are supposed to follow the traditions of the society. The construction of a society is subjected to changes. In the modern societies, societies are embracing modern activities initially not allowed.

Other societies also eliminate some of the activities like female genital mutilation which endangers the society. Social construct like identity change from time to time in people’s life. The social construct of an individual can be influenced by other people through the process of socialization. An individual should however ensure that he is accountable for all actions which he takes (Bergen 156).

Works Cited

Bergen, John. Spanish in the United States: Sociolinguistic issues. New York: Cengage Learning, 2000.Print.

Engler, Barbara. Personality theories: An introduction. New York: Cengage Learning, 2008.Print.

Kun, Jos. Strangers among sounds: listening, difference, and the unmaking of Americans. London: University of California, Berkeley, 1998.

Roach, Mary. Dress and identity. New York: Fairchild Publications, 1995.Print.

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