Essay from i, society …
… one of 18 ebooks in The ‘I’ Series – flash fiction (horror, sci fi, crime, romance & twist in the tale), poetry and short essays from politics to the paranormal.
Could it be that our ideas of ourselves often fail because we don’t understand what an ‘individual’ is? You are an individual. But how do you know this? What is there about ‘you’ that makes you unique – a one off? This is a subject that has often fascinated me. And when ever I look into it, ‘you’ disappear.
You know you are ‘you’ because society tells you so.
We live in a world of individuality, where there is nothing above ‘you’. No God, no wider influence, no meaning above your own values.
Experience, though, says different.
‘You’ are defined by the culture to which you belong. Social pressures help to mould your way through life. Even your genetic structure in not yours – it is an amalgam of that of your parents.
‘You’ are not as individual as you think. And I am quite sure that it goes far deeper than this. And I am sure of this through researching the paranormal, where the mind that is essential to ‘you’ can appear far more adaptive and ‘communal’ than we presently understand.
What are the essentials of ‘you’?
Well, a big part of ‘you’ are your emotions. These define much of your character, responses and ideals. Yet, whilst the reasons for emotional displays and stimulus may be specific to ‘you’, this is only part of the story.
Regardless of why a particular emotion exists, the simple fact is, emotion ‘types’ seem to be of the ‘species’ rather than ‘you’. Love, hate, sorrow, joy, fear and the rest were not invented by ‘you’, but by the species. Put simply, they are not yours alone.
Personality holds similar problems.
Carl Jung formulated the idea of a collective unconscious populated by ‘archetypes’ that are expressed in mythology. Yet, when you deconstruct this type of ‘archetype’, what you end up with are specific character types.
These include the child, trickster, sage, judge, hero, etc. And together they form the various character fragments within everyone’s mind, from the judge (conscience) to the trickster – that element of ‘you’ that varies from the impish to the absolute evil. Yet their collectivity suggests they are not of ‘you’.
Much of ‘you’ is beyond conscious thought.
‘You’ do things in certain ways that are not of ‘you’, but of the species. We know these impulses as instinct. Beyond scientific understanding and beyond ‘you’ it is nevertheless a big part of you.
So as we can see, ‘you’ – i.e. those parts of ‘you’ that are specific to ‘you’ – do not actually exist in a fundamental form. Rather, I think the best way to understand ‘you’ is to accept ‘you’ are not yours.
Rather, what we call the individual is an amalgam of outside influences. How that amalgam is shaped IS specific to ‘you’, so, yes, you are ‘you’ in the final analysis. But how you became ‘you’ is far more than ‘you’ alone.
Why is this important? Well, the biggest influence upon you is how your culture defines ‘you’. And the present culture is materialist, atheist and consumerist, all of which require ‘you’ to only find meaning in yourself.
Meaning above ‘you’ is a definite ‘no’ in today’s world. The above suggests this is not true. And it only exists because they have convinced you that you is really ‘you’.
How do politics and society really work? In the
dozens of essays in I, Society I try to answer.
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