On the impossibility of knowing who we are.

I’m not really sure where the idea of stability and consistency of human character came from but I have a feeling that it’s more of a wishful thinking sorta thing rather than an indubitable fact. I mean, if we go back to basics and pull our gaze away from our puny little lives and look at the larger world around us we can identify that everything is in flux, easily enough. I mean, change is something that happens. Lets just accept that. I’m not saying whether its good or bad but it is there. It’s an ingredient of life.

Going back to basics, even the earliest of philosophers understood the variability of the sensorial world. Some may have thought that change was constant, others, like, good aul Heraclitus, accepted change and argued that we acknowledge that some change helps sustain and preserve things in a certain state. I’m not gonna go into the whole river philosophical theory thing but basically: same river, different water.

So back to change in relation to humans. So I guess, I can admit that there is something essentially stable at the core of our existence. I am who I am and people can recognise me as me because I have certain physical and psychological features which remain relatively unchanged. Yet, as we grow we undergo minor physical and psychological changes. We grow tall and mature, we continue to age and our features begin to blur. Our youth fades and we become frail. But, if we take an even more narrow look at ourselves then we can see that we go undergo minor changes to our personality on a daily basis depending on our moods.

We play with versions of ourselves and try preserve the ones which are accepted and rid ourselves of the habits that lead to even the most minor of social exclusions. Other people’s opinions matter. Thus, we spend life naturally growing and deliberately making changes to our body and mentality. Sometimes, these are conscious decisions but most of the time our personality is the result of a collection of knock on effects resulting from deliberate alterations.

So essentially, we try to understand ourselves and to a certain extent we succeed. However, I’m starting to think that our ignorance of ourselves is revealed when we begin a relationship with another human being. I guess, I’m talking about a romantic type of relationship where you try put forward the best version of yourself. But in attempting to intimately merge yourself with another you start to rediscover parts of yourself. Or rather re-evaluate our pre-existing notions of ourselves, our attitude, mentality and body. We take on another’s interpretation of ourselves and try to match it up our subjective understanding of our character. Example: B thinks A is funny. A likes and accepts this. Therefore, A is considered to have a good sense of humour by A ’cause B said so. More, or less.

I feel like we’re all very much like play-doe. We essentially have the same core and consistency but we have the ability to mold and change ourselves. But, others can change us too. Like the physical, social and cultural worlds have a major impact on our character. If these are drastically changed then we too undergo change. But funnily enough, if you stop and think about it, our desire to stop change and sustain a certain way of life helps the world around us change a little less. Or rather, it helps slow down the change to allow for a gradual acceptance of it.

So in life, we travel through different stages, changing slightly or drastically at different points. I guess, I think that it doesn’t matter that we’re inconsistent, unstable and changeable beings. But, when you get into a relationship and you want to be honest about who you are I think that it’s important that we try figure out who we are at this particular point in our lives. It may be that I’m not the person I was a few months ago and haven’t gotten around to realising it just yet.

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