On Identity: A Personal Journey
21.12.2012 @ 22:20 #1
My latest article, dealing with identity, more precisely collective identity.
How do you perceive identity? What group or entity do you identify with, if any? Why or why not?
21.12.2012 @ 23:16 #2
As will come as no surprise to you, I don't identify as a citizen of the US. Moreover I think our civil religion and culture is a flimsy basis on which to form a society, a paper-thin veneer that has only held together because we've had a largely homogenous culture up to now. I don't expect it to last much longer or endure the transition to a more divided society. At least, not endure it well.
As for what I do identify with, the only thing I can honestly say is the soil of my native region in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania. Coming from farm stock and seeing our dependence on the soil firsthand underscores importance of land. It's probably also an ingrained part of American culture in that most people came here for land. I see private property as the only real basis of political freedom. Without strong ethnic or religious ties, for me it's the only basis for personal identity that makes sense. My love of history contributes. I see history as being very rooted in place.
Of course, I've mostly lived as an exile from that place since my teen years. I can't say I really identify with the people there, either, and they seem to see me as an outsider- I've even had people comment on my accent, which apparently has changed. But other than the nebulous sense of self that comes from possessions and interests, it's the only thing I can point to as an identity marker.
21.12.2012 @ 23:23 #3
And usually OK with that, but I do sometimes envy those who have some group they can identify with.
21.12.2012 @ 23:40 #4
22.12.2012 @ 00:22 #5
I am, by birth, upbringing, education, trade, and all other life experiences a son of California. Whether I am this by accident or by any hidden purpose, I cannot know. But I do believe that it is the best place on earth (Canada is not far behind, but it's too cold most of the year for the Lasagna Queen's taste) to build a new society on a foundation of diversity. We have those who would change the world, and those who believe the world should not be changed quite so fast, in numbers sufficient to balance each other. I think we speak more languages, celebrate more festivals, and worship more gods than anywhere else. And I find this wonderful.
22.12.2012 @ 04:28 #6
While I will not claim that it's more "real" or "valid" than other forms, I find it personally more meaningful. To be bound together by higher values and principles, with enough room for disagreements (rule of law that would protect dissenters) and improvements, and the fate of a polity that we contribute to building, in lieu of blood, color of skin, language, or religion.
But evidently for such a thing to happen, or for it to be at its fullest potential, we need a political and social environment that encourages and enables genuine dynamic civic life while respecting diversity and rule of law.
22.12.2012 @ 18:58 #7
Tried fitting in, but it just doesn't work. I did the whole husband, career and causes things, but it felt like I was trying to fit into a too tight shirt. Finally hulked out and did a Bruce Banner down the road, been happy since.
22.12.2012 @ 22:27 #8
Guy N said:
Oh, I like my tandoori takeout as much as the next person, but fragmentation is not recipe for a stable society- that's just reality. It has worked in the US because of wealth.
23.12.2012 @ 03:43 #9
Guy N said:
It depends on what level of diversity you're referring to. Differences in philosophy will never die. But views that actively harm people in some direct or indirect way are in no way needed.
I personally see no need for a diverse culture either. Just one unified culture in which we can all choose to do whatever we want. Ancient Chinese culture serves no purpose other than "keeping alive" an old and outdated way of living, for example. It's interesting to learn, but pointless to perpetuate. I think homogenization, to a certain extent, is certainly a good thing.
23.12.2012 @ 06:02 #10
Diverse opinions over matters thought essential are the primary source of new ideas and new ways of adapting to a world that does not stand still or conform to one ideal or one culture for long no matter how much we may wish it so. And yes, this includes both sides of the debate over whether homogenization or unified culture is desirable.
23.12.2012 @ 07:14 #11
If a unified culture imposes a certain way of life, then what exactly is the point of multiples cultures? What is the benefit? In the end, we all choose how we live, despite our culture. Unless you're severely brainwashed. In a unified culture that promoted the pursuit of knowledge and philosophising, the freedom would be unparalleled. Having a predetermined ideal chosen for us due to the particular culture we are brought up in serves no purpose, and only hinders one to finding their actual belief system.
23.12.2012 @ 07:44 #12
Intolerance and pressure to conform suppress not only degrading and "anti-human" views, they also suppress novel and progressive views. They suppress questioning foundational assumptions of society, long after those assumptions have been shown to be false and maladaptive.
A "unified" culture cannot promote "unparalleled freedom", because either a culture respects and learns from disunity in the name of free thought, or it does not actually promote freedom at all.
Most of the really good examples of this are presently likely to create too much controversy to raise in the forums, because they involve religion and presently controversial political matters.
But this strays from the original topic, which is how we develop a sense of identity and what institutions we choose to identify with. It's my choice to identify with a place that, even if it is not as it really is (California can be as xenophobic as any other place), should be willing to welcome anyone with new ideas and give anyone the chance to prove the worth of their calling. If this sounds like a recipe for chaos, whip me up a double order.
23.12.2012 @ 07:58 #13
Also, a society that promotes the tools for free-thought is unified in it's fundamentals. People may believe different things and live different ways, but the way they came to be was aided through the tools this conceptual society would give them. Plus, i strongly believe that without the influence of extremely alien cultures, people's beliefs wouldn't be different enough to cause societal fragmenting.
But continuing on with your thought process, how exactly is having multiple cultures a good thing? If all cultures impose ideals and the people are powerless to resist them, why have multiple ones? To constantly bicker about which is superior? To gaze at another's and think "Wow, they're different"? Or to learn from one another's cultures, leading to a more and more unified society?
23.12.2012 @ 08:08 #14
I don't find your statement that conformity is a sign of weakness or complacency at all convincing, because it is flatly not so. Conformity is rigidly enforced by everyone around you. Conformity in school or at work is required as a means of advancement. It is so everywhere, except for the occasional band of freethinkers. It requires the greatest strength to resist the pressure to conform, and to demand that everyone live up to that and call them weak for failing to do so is just presumptuous.
23.12.2012 @ 08:22 #15
Guy N said:
To what end? Where will that end up? Diverse cultures which are slightly less diverse due to the knowledge gained and applied? Or do you believe that this form of learning will be a never ending process that leads no where in terms of actual change?
I find it hard to believe that much more can be learned. We know human psychology, and why people believe certain things. All we'd learn is that this certain group of people believe in a turtle god, or that these people believe that dieing in battle is the most "honourable" death. We know why they believe these things, so is them conjuring up new things to believe in really useful?
I'll leave the second topic out of it now, as it has become irrelevant.
23.12.2012 @ 08:46 #16
We don't actually know a small fraction of what some people think we know about human psychology; the idea that there is little more to learn in a science that is only a century old and wasn't a science for much of that time is absurd. We don't know why people believe certain things. Frankly, I don't care; the importance to me is whether they believe anything that may turn out to be valuable for the ordering of society today or in the future. To that end, I'm willing to endorse their belief in what works to order their lives and does not create misery for themselves or others, without being so ready to set myself up as judge of the latter.
23.12.2012 @ 09:52 #17
Guy N said:
We don't actually know a small fraction of what some people think we know about human psychology; the idea that there is little more to learn in a science that is only a century old and wasn't a science for much of that time is absurd. We don't know why people believe certain things. Frankly, I don't care; the importance to me is whether they believe anything that may turn out to be valuable for the ordering of society today or in the future. To that end, I'm willing to endorse their belief in what works to order their lives and does not create misery for themselves or others, without being so ready to set myself up as judge of the latter. ›››
And when the experiment is over, a conclusion will be reached. I am not proposing an authoritarian control here, so i have no idea where you got that from. I'm talking about a natural occurrence of homogenization, not one imposed by an iron fist.
Anyway, in regards to gay marriage, one side is DRASTICALLY rising in popularity. It's becoming a more uniform belief that everyone should be allowed basic rights. There is an end to these kinds of conflicts. Even in the context you're using now, the end product will still be a belief that is held by a majority of people.
We do know why people believe certain things. We don't know the biological process, but we sure as hell know the end product. Seriously, give me an example of something that psychologists don't know the cause of.
The entire foundation of this argument is off, because true diversity can only be accomplished by segregation. It's innate in conflicting cultures and beliefs for one to become the victor (Either through logic or an iron fist) or for them to homogenize. Of course, this is in regards to fundamental beliefs and cultural aspects; not individualistic philosophies.
23.12.2012 @ 10:30 #18
I hold no strong political views either way. I decide on a case by case basis on what is the best outcome for people.
I would also identify myself as a hardcore gamer, for gaming is something that has had a significant impact upon my life. Gaming was what led me to interact with people from so many different countries, cultures and beliefs. It showed me the world as it is and without it ( and the internet ) I would have been stuck with a very limited world view.
23.12.2012 @ 11:31 #19
Costin Moroianu said:
I think this is important about Identity. Identity isn't about whether one group or belief is better than another, but about points of common ground between a group of people.
This is a group I'd like to be able to identify with, but I need more practice first.
03.01.2013 @ 18:42 #20
As I mentioned above there are two parts to all this: that which I choose and that which I don't. I know people will say what others put on you shouldn't define who you are or how you see yourself. And that is absolutely true. However life isn't that simple. It is, at times, messy, convoluted and frustrating. For example, I don't choose to identify myself as an American. But if I travel to say, Iran, I will be identified as an American-or at least their definition of one. Messy, eh? That's where the broad and mutable part is helpful. I won't even go into all the cultural influences, labels or what have you that identify us-often without our being aware of them. Staying true to oneself can be difficult at the best of times.
Part of the human experience I guess.