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Western Concept Of Self Essay, Research Paper

The most important elements comprising the Western concept of the self are probably the soul and self identity. As Plato has made clear, you really are just a soul before God. Believing in this religious answer to the question: “Who am I?” means accepting that your possessions and accomplishments along with your body is nothing; merely insignificant. In philosophy this soul or “real self” is called the “essential self.” The essential self is the set of characteristics that defines a particular person.

I believe this is the most important element not only by process of elimination but in a society based on Christian beliefs it is most certainly true to this nation. But in that same sense I believe there is a lot of self found in being a social construct.

In America we are taught that individuality is important. People can only be but so “individual.” Society creates laws. By being a good citizen and following these laws, you are in some small way being affected by society and thus adopt this construct. Ironically, we have been taught about being an individual through society in the first place, which furthers the idea that individuality is a social construct.

Self Identity, the way in which a person characterizes the essential self could even be considered part of the social construct theory. We characterize whom we are based on terms developed by society.

Regardless of which one of these two self-concepts you take it is important to know that how you perceive yourself determines the relationships you have with others. So if you are to go along with the social construct theory you are going to have to accept the fact that how you see yourself as an individual and what you attempt to do for mankind could affect other such social constructs.

In a society where mixed opinions of religion are becoming more commonplace it is difficult to say what the one true element of importance to the general society has become. It is understandable to see that both of these theories come into place when examining the question of the self. The “older-than-time” question of “Who am I?” is a question that I believe has slowly begun to die down. In the western society it is either accepted that, “I am here, whether for some unknown purpose or not,” or as in my belief, “My knowing why I am here is not as important as the fact that I carry out the unknown purpose as God so has willed.” Though many people have probably not thought in that exact sentence pattern, I still believe that most people have just begun to accept that they are here and they do not know why.


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