• Baden
    14.1k
    (The style of this OP is quite article-like but it was written specifically as an OP. A one-sentence summary of the main point might be: current ideologies of identity obscure their own function, which is to serve the social at the expense of the self).

    An attempt to problematize notions of personal freedom and social progress via a brief analysis of the concepts of identity and self in contemporary society.

    An identity is posited here as similar to a self but without the absoluteness of the physical boundary necessarily applicable to a self in order for it to be distinguishable from other selves—the absence of which boundary makes it significantly more coherent to speak of “shared identities” than “shared selves”. An identity then is conceptualized as a narrative of self, or a narrative of a narrative that hones a greater degree of coherency out of the self narrative such that it goes beyond a mere stable and clear judgement (on a variably coherent but at least self-contained subject) to a more defined role or character among several within a subject that subsist in varying interrelationships.

    The limits of identity then are more like the limits of conceptual groups that fit under the broader concept of “role/character” or sets of roles/characters and so are abstract limits in contrast to the more concrete limits of selves defined ultimately by their respective associated physical bodies. In this sense an identity is a narrative that takes one further step into the abstract than a self and is granted there a more flexible and shared territory within and across individual bodies. This territory is wholly socio-linguistic and so fundamentally social and socially controlled. But it may be more or less recognizably social to the extent we can have both ostensibly personal and social identities, which do not necessarily harmonize.

    Our personal identities are concerned more with general psychological character and our social identities more with occupation, career, status etc.—not that these don’t overlap or aren’t located on the same spectrum, but that personal identity tends to reflect ideologies of “individuality” (which in so far as they remain within the social sphere [in so far as we are “sane”, i.e. recognizably social actors] are just more social narratives) and social identity tends towards ideologies of the collective.

    The former “personal” identity is how we tend to play our social role through difference/isolation and the latter “social” identity through similarity/cooperation. But again, in so far as we are “sane”, we do play a socially recognized (individually limited) role and political stances that arise from disparate roles need not be conflictual on anything other than a superficial level. On the contrary, the illusion of fundamental conflict can be a stable breeding ground for the reproduction of the same basic social system because it blinds us to our individual impotence and consequently to paths to overcome it. The self of a “free individual” whose behavioural choices span a consistently tiny percentage of those theoretically available and, in fact, come largely predefined and narratively packaged is less a threat to, and more a tightly controlled unit in, modern liberal democracies, and as such not unsuited to reproducing an ever more tightly controlled, less behaviourally diverse, system. So can proceed a process from apparent freedom to domination, diversity to uniformity, progress to regression.

    Centrally problematic is that the behaviours of "free" individuals tend not to stray far from well-trodden paths, despite the proliferation of such paths, thereby an overall social/ideological stability that subsumes intra-cultural political conflict is maintained, while personal stability is rendered at best incidental. In fact, identity formation in modern “free” societies allows for and even encourages the creation of conflicting identities that war with themselves in a (self) destructive fashion. And there are practical reasons for but no overwhelming force towards the attainment and perpetuation of an identity that is consistent and encompassing enough to effectively abrogate such inner self conflict. In fact, such an orientation is often actively discouraged under ideologies of "self-exploration" etc. Fundamentally then, modern society facilitates the greater and greater separation of identity from self, or, more specifically, the proliferation of identities that do not tend to reconcile themselves in a stable self but form unstable selves that are defined largely by inner conflict.

    The thesis presented here then is that this phenomenon of multiple and fractured identity formation, the creation of self-conflictual selves (subjectively experienced in the long term as unhappy, meaningless and anxious selves, characterized by indecision and irresoluteness, I.e. undeveloped selves misdirected from their means of self-development ) is not a bug but a feature of advanced society and the more “advanced” the society the more a feature it tends to become.

    Here, technological progress, particularly through mass and social media, provides us with the “freedom” to tie ourselves in ever more convoluted psycho-social knots which present themselves to us as novel experiences or experimental or disposable identities, while having the same fundamentally stultifying character of limiting our ability to narrativize a coherent and unified self in a meaningful social context. The consumption of proliferating identities becomes an endless self-consumption and ultimate limitation rather than emancipation.

    This is to suggest that part of the immune system of larger social systems of huge numbers of social units is that those that may present a threat do not play an antagonistic role but remain inert and impotent due to their inner conflicts. They become the waste products of society rather than a cancer upon it, its detritus rather than its mutations. And so meaningful change and progress are effectively resisted while efficiency of exchange, material and ideological, is continuously perfected. A quantitative dominance of material/ideological wealth pervades over qualitative human experience, particularly wherever such experience threatens the rate of economic expansion/technical advance.

    This ongoing process may ultimately lead to social disintegration, revolution, the dominance of artificial intelligence or some combination thereof. It’s difficult to predict, but we can at least observe that human flourishing, diversity and depth is not its telos. The subject is subjected to the social insofar as it cannot coherently arrange itself in opposition to it, or at least in opposition to its failings, because it has internalized conflicting psychological forces that prevent a coherent response. And a society that systematically protects its failings at the expense of its subjects is antithetical to the notion of meaningful human progress.

    The freedom of identity a technically advanced consumer society facilitates (identity commodified / personal paralysis packaged as endless novelty) contains within it the anaesthetic that neutralizes a more valuable freedom, the freedom of resistance against an orientation towards the self that dictates that a self must consume even the self and in as many flavours as possible in order to fully experience itself. And is directed to do so through the conduits of mass media, celebrity culture, and social engineering technologies.

    I had written a bit more. But that's enough for now.

    Anyhow, is this a problem you recognize? Does the analysis make sense? What, if any, are potential solutions?
  • Banno
    19.9k

    TL;DR: on the Open AI Playground gave
    We need to think about how our notions of personal freedom and social progress are being shaped by our modern conceptions of identity and self, and how the proliferation of identities is leading to a lack of meaningful human progress.

    Is that accurate?
  • Baden
    14.1k


    Kind of. It's compatible with what I'm saying but it doesn't quite capture my thesis and I gave a better tl:dr in the second sentence. It would have been nice if you'd read that far. :lol:

    I mean feel free to skip a few paragraphs but man...
  • Shawn
    12.6k
    Centrally problematic is that the behaviours of "free" individuals tend not to stray far from well-trodden paths, despite the proliferation of such paths, thereby an overall social/ideological stability that subsumes intra-cultural political conflict is maintained, while personal stability is rendered at best incidental. In fact, identity formation in modern “free” societies allows for and even encourages the creation of conflicting identities that war with themselves in a (self) destructive fashion. And there are practical reasons for but no overwhelming force towards the attainment and perpetuation of an identity that is consistent and encompassing enough to effectively abrogate such inner self conflict. In fact, such an orientation is often actively discouraged under ideologies of "self-exploration" etc. Fundamentally then, modern society facilitates the greater and greater separation of identity from self, or, more specifically, the proliferation of identities that do not tend to reconcile themselves in a stable self but form unstable selves that are defined largely by inner conflict.Baden

    Is this Erich Fromm? And if so, as I read most of the OP, is logotherapy a solution to our purposeless lives that we engender in modern society?
  • Baden
    14.1k


    I haven't read Fromm in years so I'm not sure but it's a Frankfurt-School type point, so quite possibly. I'll look into the logotherapy connection. Thanks.
  • frank
    11.9k

    It sounds like you're saying that social fragmentation ends up being reflected in individual psyches.
  • Shawn
    12.6k
    I'll look into the logotherapy connection. Thanks.Baden

    The thought behind mentioning logotherapy would be for people to develop a healthy identity by finding meaningful jobs and activities in life, thus enabling them to form healthy selves. It's linked to logotherapy by the appeal to purpose.

    Is lack of purpose something you were trying to address? Obviously, technology and consumerism tend to debase that metric.
  • Baden
    14.1k


    That is one of the things I am definitely saying, yes. I think @unenlightened said something similar in a recent thread that may partly be responsible for me thinking about this.

    Is lack of purpose something you were trying to address?Shawn

    The proliferation of identities within a self equates to a proliferation of often conflicting purposes that can negate each other. So, yes, effectively.
  • Baden
    14.1k
    The OP is kind of formally phrased because that's the way I like to write about this kind of stuff, but the purpose is as much to get general ideas/feedback on an issue that I think is important and bothers me personally as it is to stimulate a conversation on theory.

    (I don't remember most of the theoretical background. I'd have to look it up and pretend I did. :smile: But as mentioned there's Frankfurt School there for sure.)
  • Joshs
    4.2k


    The freedom of identity a technically advanced consumer society facilitates (identity commodified / personal paralysis packaged as endless novelty) contains within it the anaesthetic that neutralizes a more valuable freedom, the freedom of resistance against an orientation towards the self that dictates that a self must consume even the self and in as many flavours as possible in order to fully experience itself.Baden

    I’m not convinced that it is in the interest of ‘advanced consumer society’ to keep personal identity fragmented and internally conflicted. On the contrary, the proliferation of techniques of the self can be argued to produce a creative, adaptively flexible intricate structure of personal identity that is less vulnerable to becoming paralyzed by internal conflict than more traditional forms of identity.
    I think Habermas had the right idea, and was able to overcome the pessimism of other Frankfurt school thinkers, via his communicative rationality approach.
  • Tom Storm
    5.8k
    I'm not sure I recognize the problem. Do you think this experience of having several or multiple identities can also be experienced as coherent and perhaps more like a set of tools for a particular job? Or modalities of being which have a particular grammar relevant to a particular domain? And maybe some of us do experience a fracture or blunting of sorts, with an inability to reconcile these 'selves' and the societal expectations which shape them. Does that make sense?
  • Banno
    19.9k
    I mean feel free to skip a few paragraphs but man...Baden

    Sorry, that was a bit rude. I've been feeding various posts in to see what results, including my own, and found it uncanny.
  • Paine
    1.1k
    The subject is subjected to the social insofar as it cannot coherently arrange itself in opposition to it, or at least in opposition to its failings, because it has internalized conflicting psychological forces that prevent a coherent response. And a society that systematically protects its failings at the expense of its subjects is antithetical to the notion of meaningful human progress.Baden

    This makes sense to me as how I am caught up in process and processes where the 'identify' I experience appears. I have no idea how to compare that with experiences of identity that seem to come forward on their own account.

    I don't present that as an argument against some kind of completely 'objective' narrative but do feel something has been left out.
  • Hanover
    9.5k
    current ideologies of identity obscure their own function, which is to serve the social at the expense of the self).Baden

    If this is a summary, then I needn't read any more, and so I won't. Instead I'll attempt to further summarize your summary as:

    The individual is defined by his role in society.

    This summary summary clarifies the unexpected result. Individuals are not fully definable autonomous separate units, but are meaningless without reference to the whole.

    An example: A transmission gear cannot be identified without reference to the car it is a part of. It can stand alone, but what it is in a world without cars bears no similarity to what it is in a world with cars.

    That is, Hanover cannot be described without reference to this forum, as it is here where he was created and given all form and meaning. Blessed be this sacred lair

    Maybe I've correctly stated what the OP states, maybe not. Maybe I'm on a different tangent. I'm not sure. There were a lot of other sentences I didn't read.
  • god must be atheist
    5.1k
    The freedom of identity a technically advanced consumer society facilitates (identity commodified / personal paralysis packaged as endless novelty) contains within it the anaesthetic that neutralizes a more valuable freedom, the freedom of resistance against an orientation towards the self that dictates that a self must consume even the self and in as many flavours as possible in order to fully experience itself.Baden

    I am not kidding you: I walked into Walmart tomorrow, and I asked 10 random people if this applies to them, and I handed them a slip of paper with the quote by you, and I read up aloud from my copy the same.

    I assure you: not one person agreed with what you wrote about THEM. (Because it's basically about them, the people, right? Not about some over-educated Ph.D. in philosophy who has too much time on his hand.)

    I got a few responses:

    Person 1: (Giggle)

    Person 2: "Get away from me, creep, or I call security!!"

    Person 3: "Woof!!!" (Person 3 was a service animal)

    Person 4: "Heavy... man, this is deep shit. Which isle does it come from? I wanna get me one. (Mutters:) I hope they have it in my size."

    Person 5: "Yee-haw! Whoa Nelly, this ain't got no (unintelligible gurgle) on the derriere of a pregnant cow!"

    Person 6: "Not quite. The inverted anachronism of consumer-centred identity thefts are encroaching on the proletariat's main goal, which is to wrangle from the hands of the bourgeois all available rechargeable MiNH battery refuel gizmos. Or gizmoes, I'm not quite sure, actually, about that very point."

    Person 7: (Belch.)

    Person 8: "Careful, buddy. I work out five days a week and have a seventh-degree black belt."

    Person 9: (Was speechless, and froze in an immovable standing positions. When I left the store, he was still in that stunned state.)

    Person 10: "Sure, sure, for sure, man. Just put this in your pocket, and hand it back to me when you're outside the store. Trust me."
  • jgill
    2.7k
    The proliferation of identities within a self equates to a proliferation of often conflicting purposes that can negate each otherBaden

    The important conditional here is "can negate". Is there a critical number of proliferations that must trigger this phenomenon? The statement is overly vague.

    Certainly an individual living multiple roles is not necessarily doomed to internal conflicts. Cannot a famous skier be also an effective physicist, while also being an attentive father and husband?

    Some people can be successful in multiple capacities, while some can barely handle one. Some, none.
  • god must be atheist
    5.1k
    The freedom of identity a technically advanced consumer society facilitates (identity commodified / personal paralysis packaged as endless novelty) contains within it the anaesthetic that neutralizes a more valuable freedom, the freedom of resistance against an orientation towards the self that dictates that a self must consume even the self and in as many flavours as possible in order to fully experience itself.Baden

    Maybe. But I assure you: it's still more fun than praying on the call of the muezzin seven times a day and prostrating on a prayer mat and submitting your self, mind, and soul to the Islam.

    And it's also more fun than not seeing woman for decades, and going every day out into snow desert at forty below, and chopping wood ten hours each day, only to crawl back into your bungalow called "Shtalag 9" and subsist on 800 calories each day as well-earned reward for your hard work, while some other people keep beating you severely for any small infraction and calling your mother names.
  • god must be atheist
    5.1k
    Certainly an individual living multiple roles is not necessarily doomed to internal conflicts. Cannot a famous skier be also an effective physicist, while also being an attentive father and husband?jgill

    This what you described can happen in any society. But Baden is talking about a consumer society. So unless he buys the latest ski equipment every season, spends half his money on Walmart shit, and consumes his children in Aspic sauce, he is not actually a good example of what Baden was saying.

    I'll shut up now. Please don't kick me out of this site.
  • jgill
    2.7k
    This what you described can happen in any society. But Baden is talking about a consumer society

    So unless he buys the latest ski equipment every season, spends half his money on Walmart shit, and consumes his children in Aspic sauce, he is not actually a good example of what Baden was saying
    god must be atheist

    I hope not. "Buy more to be more". The simple anaesthetic in question. But what I described happens more frequently in a "consumer society" where money may flow more freely and opportunities to diversify one's self are more accessible.
  • god must be atheist
    5.1k
    This is now a serious response, Baden:

    The fragmentation of the self is not haphazard. It is directed by the person's needs, which is in turn shaped by his biology, psyche, and socio-economic status, as well as his level of intellect, highest eduation level achieved, marital status, and not in the least the colour of his skin. Other factors play into effect, as well: his height, his looks, his Myers-Briggs learning inventory.

    The fragmentation is therefore not random, and not haphazard.

    The fragmented society's individuals clump together by their preferences, needs, and fulfilment levels.

    Social cohesion, mutual support, even if not said but only implied by approval of similarity by lifestyle, reduces the impact of the inner conflict.

    There is a hard-and-fast proof to the notion that people's inner conflicts are not significant: hardly anybody commits suicide. Most people are happy, sort of, while they imagine that they could be happier if some of their needs were better satisfied. This, of course, is a fallacy, and it is perpetuated by the Hollywood-style tabloid journalism.

    In all, you may be right, it is hard to tell from here. But even if you are right, it is not a problem of significant proportions, either for society, or for the individual. In other words, people are complacent enough to stay with the status quo. When the status quo is really not good, they rebel. So since there have been no rebellions in a long time in Western consumer societies, this is another indication that the situation is not as dire as you depict.

    The fragmentation is apparently adequately handled by the selves. While the society the selves live in promotes inner fragmentation, according to you, still, the same society provides outlets to alleviate the potential suffering of the self: by the clumping of like selves together, and by being diverse and vibrant and constantly changing enough to divert the attention of the self from his inner conflicts (if the inner conflicts due to fragmentation of the self indeed exist at all, of which I am not convinced) so they don't get consumed by thoughts of their inner conflicts generated by a consumer society they are a part of. Because of the distractions. (Mentioned this last bit for the benefit of those who forgot how the sentence started by the time we ended up here.)
  • god must be atheist
    5.1k
    This is an interesting concept you raised, Baden. You look at the effect in a negative, pessimistic light. I just happened now to look at it from a positive, optimistic light.

    I go back to my youth, to age 15-16. I walked into a second-hand bookstore and had a glance at a Stieler map. Stieler was the prominent atlas-producing publishing giant's, Perthes's, in Gotha, Germany, main scribe. Stieler and then many others also in the employ of Justus Perthes, published many editions of a world atlas, starting in the 1820s. The maps I bought then were made in the 1870s. I was stunned by their beauty. I bought a few on the spot, at a really good price, because at the time Hungary was poor, and there was no competition for antiques.

    I was a consumer, who diversified and had an experience that he cherished for the rest of his life.

    I often go to dollar stores. I look at the displayed merchandise: shiny, clean, appetizing. From lathles to bicycle pumps to socks to Javex bleach. I shop there because that's where my dollar goes the farthest.

    Do I feel guilty, or depressed, or remorseful, or do I leave with a bad taste in the mouth, when I exit the store with two full bags? No, I don't.

    I figure it's the gathering instinct that makes us go out shopping for sole sake of the joy of shopping. In the old times (back 20 to 200,000 years ago) there were no dollar stores, the poor suckers, but they found the same happiness when they happened upon a nice-looking pebble or a sharp stone, or a colorful mushroom. A flower, a stinking carcass that my forebearers still deemed edible, a cool spring with clean fresh water, a nest of tree slugs, quite a delicacy.

    Shopping is not forced upon people. It is people who force stores to sell stuff. Because a consumer society caters to the need of entertainment; the diversification of the self or the identity, and the many hats we have to wear, do not diminish, but enhance the joy of living. We, humans, revel in diversity, and uniform and unchanging life we definitely see as boring. Uniformity and repetition ad infinitum is only done because we are forced to do that. The uniformity of the Islam, the dredging work in factories and behind sewing machines, the repetition of constantly killing people or torturing them to squeeze out a confession (I am talking about executioners' jobs at Quantanimo Bay), takes a toll on people. The horrid workplace is what makes us dream of retirement. Why? Because most of us wear the same one hat at the work place; typically and historically for 9-10 hours a day. We get stressed out and we just want to go home and plutt ourselves in front of the TV until dinner is ready, then we crawl to bed to die until resurrection of us the next morning, to go to work.

    I think the separation of the self from the multitudinality of the identities we need to fill in our changing roles in our lives is not a bad thing. It is a good thing.
  • Wayfarer
    16.7k
    Anyhow, is this a problem you recognize? Does the analysis make sense? What, if any, are potential solutions?Baden

    Somehow, the thought that immediately sprang to mind was Jean Baudrillard and Marshall McLuhan. We are transformed into actors playing roles in the spectacle of modern existence portrayed in the various media and hypermedia and assign ourselves values in accordance with the roles we adopt or are accorded by culture. Also that pecular pomo text I've encountered on the Internet, 'the society of the spectacle' by Debord. Don't know if I'm barking up the wrong tree here.
  • Baden
    14.1k
    On the contrary, the proliferation of techniques of the self can be argued to produce a creative, adaptively flexible intricate structure of personal identity that is less vulnerable to becoming paralyzed by internal conflict than more traditional forms of identity.Joshs

    Possibly. But do you think this is what is happening in practice? Do you think people are becoming deeper, more thoughtful and more in touch with themselves? Do you think modern societies are progressing away from frivolousness, stupidity, and superficiality towards character, intelligence and creativity? Do you think there is less and less evidence of mental conflict evidenced through reduced levels of mental illness, unhappiness, anxiety and drug use? Or are you positing this is as a positive potential in current society that has yet to be realised?

    I think Habermas had the right idea, and was able to overcome the pessimism of other Frankfurt school thinkers, via his communicative rationality approachJoshs

    Again, possibly. But can you elaborate on how you think this is playing out in practice?
  • Baden
    14.1k
    I'm not sure I recognize the problem. Do you think this experience of having several or multiple identities can also be experienced as coherent and perhaps more like a set of tools for a particular job? Or modalities of being which have a particular grammar relevant to a particular domain? And maybe some of us do experience a fracture or blunting of sorts, with an inability to reconcile these 'selves' and the societal expectations which shape them. Does that make sense?Tom Storm

    There's always a danger of projecting our own psychology into our theories, (although in this case the general thrust is not particularly original to me) So, I'm aware of the need to provide more clarity on why I think there is a general problem to those who may not experience or view the situation similarly. I haven't always viewed things this way either. But having experimented with several varying identities myself both for practical and personal reasons, I've developed this view over time and I think the issue is at least worth taking seriously.

    Anyhow, what you've said makes perfect sense. The prevailing ideology of identity (as I see it) presents identities as both tools (as you've very well described) and playthings, opportunities to achieve specific goals and to have specific experiences. The phrasing "modalities of being" with "particular grammars" fitting "particular domains" is very apt, only that we remember our modalities of being are psychological states with biological consequences and our grammars are sets of actions that may be reinforcing in a way that presents barriers to change that don't necessarily apply when we're dealing in pure abstracts.

    So, the way I view identities is that they take a certain libidinal hold, they "want" to become selves, in that they are naturally reinforcing in so far as they reward us with positive feelings as we employ them. As I said earlier, an identity to me is a narrative. But it's a type of narrative that organizes the thoughts and desires of the self into a specific semi-stable structure that acts as a conduit for libidinal energy and allows for the expression or repression of different drives such that if it has taken hold as an identity and is not simply a whim or a bad attempt at acting, it can't simply be turned on and off at will. It creates a system of thought that tries to keep it in place. The mask becomes us even if we view it as a mere mask. And all the worse for us if we do and it isn't.

    For example, we might have a job, which entails an identity we don't like. And we might view taking on this identity simply as a practicality, again a tool to provide us with the means to navigate a society that always wants something from us. We might think we take this identity off at the end of the day and become "ourselves" again. I think this is an illusion. And a necessary one. Or at least one that serves to perpetuate the type of inner conflict that keeps us inert. We try to layer over an undesired identity with a desired one, but the desired identity must be repressed on a continual basis and our energies are not consistently directed outward but are variously redirected and repressed.

    This is just one example and obviously doesn’t apply to everyone. But it helps make the point that contrary to the idea that identities are tools that can be picked up and disregarded for practical purposes (as their malleability and lack of distinct boundaries compared to “selves” might suggest), they are psychologically sticky and tend to interfere with each other’s expression and compete for libidinal energy in a potentially destructive and paralysing way such that yes, they may not be reconciled as you said, or worse, we blind ourselves to what it means to have a reconciled self/identity structure that consistently and productively channels our energies outward because we know nothing other than the circular process of anaesthetising undesired identities with the temporary salve of desired ones.
  • Baden
    14.1k
    Sorry, that was a bit rude. I've been feeding various posts in to see what results, including my own, and found it uncanny.Banno

    Oh, not a bother. It took a fairly good shot at it, almost uncomfortably so, especially considering how dense my text was in places. I suppose I should be grateful in that if an AI can get a fairly decent grasp of what I was saying, a human should be able to get there too. :up:
  • Baden
    14.1k
    This makes sense to me as how I am caught up in process and processes where the 'identify' I experience appears. I have no idea how to compare that with experiences of identity that seem to come forward on their own account.

    I don't present that as an argument against some kind of completely 'objective' narrative but do feel something has been left out.
    Paine

    That's interesting. Can you tell me a bit more? Is this to do with identities of work or etc?
  • Baden
    14.1k


    Cars are nice. Do you like cars? Have you ever considered driving one off a cliff?
  • Baden
    14.1k
    I am not kidding yougod must be atheist

    Yes you are, although what followed was so frighteningly realistic, I almost doubt myself.
  • unenlightened
    7.2k
    It sounds like you're saying that social fragmentation ends up being reflected in individual psyches.frank

    That is one of the things I am definitely saying, yes. I think unenlightened said something similar in a recent thread that may partly be responsible for me thinking about this.Baden

    I just watched White Noise last night, and now this. I was struck by the close similarity posed between Hitler and Elvis. The mass adoration. And the obsession with death; the nature of narrative plot as a movement towards inevitable death (ineffectually denied by the 'happy-ever-after' ending). Recommended watch for philosophers and pretenders.

    I'm not going to participate here though more than this, as long as I have other stuff on the go. I just want to clarify my own position that identity is always fragmented; it is something one does in thought, to reflect on oneself, that divides one between the identifier and the identified - the reflection and that which sees it - and simultaneously divides one from the world, which becomes 'other'. Death is always the loss of identity. One does this because in learning from those one is dependent on for one's existence, one is instructed to "be good". That is to say, to be what one is not, and thus identity is performance from the beginning, and the necessary negation of oneself for the [M]other.

    So I cannot even distinguish between the social and the psyche.
  • Baden
    14.1k
    The important conditional here is "can negate". Is there a critical number of proliferations that must trigger this phenomenon? The statement is overly vague.

    Certainly an individual living multiple roles is not necessarily doomed to internal conflicts. Cannot a famous skier be also an effective physicist, while also being an attentive father and husband?

    Some people can be successful in multiple capacities, while some can barely handle one. Some, none.
    jgill

    I don’t think it’s so much a matter of a particular number but how identities organize and structure themselves in the self. And there are two aspects to this. One of these aspects is how comfortably the identity sits within the self and another is how identities interrelate. Ideally, our identities sit comfortably within the self and with each other and do not present us with irresolvable mental or behavioural conundrums or structure our energies in self-defeating ways.

    So, my argument is not so much that an individual must be doomed to internal conflict if they live multiple roles but that the commodification of identity, the reduction of identity ideologically to a form of fashion, as if we all happily can be anyone simply on the basis of certain physical and mental skills, capabilities and attributes is a dangerously misleadingly orientation that serves and helps reproduce an increasingly consumerist environment at the expense of sustainable and fulfilling self-development.

    Of course, there are certain presumptions here. I view societies as analagous to organisms in their tendency to reproduce and I presume the vast majority of individuals from a social point of view to be an expendable means of such reproduction, purveyors of ideologies, primarily. Here, ideologies are social genes and societies are more or less stable groups of ideologies. We are stuck in bodies with drives subjected to constant ideological barrage and required to organize this input in terms of identity and self. There is no reason for society to give us the tools to do that, any more than there is reason for the DNA of an organism to program it to promote the life of cells that have become incidental to its survival and reproduction.

    Anyhow, all of the above can and should be questioned. My position is certainly pessimistic in terms of the direction social life is currently flowing while being reasonably optimistic that if we as individuals can recognize the difficulties of our context we can avoid a great degree of unnecessary confusion and stress.
  • Baden
    14.1k
    Maybe. But I assure you: it's still more fun than praying on the call of the muezzin seven times a day and prostrating on a prayer mat and submitting your self, mind, and soul to the Islam.

    And it's also more fun than not seeing woman for decades, and going every day out into snow desert at forty below, and chopping wood ten hours each day, only to crawl back into your bungalow called "Shtalag 9" and subsist on 800 calories each day as well-earned reward for your hard work, while some other people keep beating you severely for any small infraction and calling your mother names.
    god must be atheist

    The first one sounds a bit more promising than the second one.

    This what you described can happen in any society. But Baden is talking about a consumer society. So unless he buys the latest ski equipment every season, spends half his money on Walmart shit, and consumes his children in Aspic sauce, he is not actually a good example of what Baden was saying.god must be atheist

    I don't, to be fair. I did spend a couple of years primarily as a financial speculator though and that was a mask that I found harder to remove and less compatible with identities I value far more than I would have liked.
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