The Phaserl


Who Am I? An Answer to the Eternal Question of Self-Identity

from Zen Gardner:

Throughout the history, one of the deepest questions mankind has asked itself is the question of its true identity: Who am I?

While science refers human beings as a biological organism, philosophers understood that this perspective isn’t sufficient. Our body is changing continuously, yet we remain ourselves. For example, it is claimed that every seven years all the cells of our body are being replaced. So the body I have now is not the body I had seven years ago, yet I remained. So what is this “I” that remained?

Western philosophy is clueless

The philosopher Rene Descartes suggested that our mind and thoughts are our true identity. An identity, he called a “soul”. The philosopher John Locke argued that momentary thoughts are not consistent and change over time. They cannot be our identity since identity is something that must be consistent over time. He suggested that what makes a person himself is a minimal amount of memory that must remain constant throughout his life. For example, I am myself and not another because I remember being myself as a little child, as a teenager and as an adult. He termed this consistency of memory, “sameness of consciousness”.

But also, Lock’s suggestion isn’t sufficient since very young babies don’t have a self-memory. The distinction between “myself” and “other” develops over time. Furthermore, most of us have no memories prior to a certain age (usually before the age of two years) yet it is an absurd to claim that the baby I was and the adult I am today are not the same person. So mind or memory cannot be our true identity, and this is the spot where western philosophy got stuck.

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1 comment to Who Am I? An Answer to the Eternal Question of Self-Identity

  • Rick

    Once you know your Creator / Jesus then “Who am I?” is understandable. The “I” in “me” is eternal, unique, and ever changing. The far more critical question is “Where will I spend eternity?” and for that you can look to no other teachings than those of Jesus – who was God Himself walking among us.

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