113. It is primarily through our identification with social groups
that we define ourselves.
A lot of times, we question ourselves "Who am I?";and we are in pursuit
of the answer to it throughout our lifetime. The definition of
ourselves is a dynamic process, in which we position ourselves to form
expectations and in which we interate with social groups to get
feedbacks. The latter is the primary one.
To begin with, nothing is absolute in the world. However, everything
is judged according to a standard, which is relatively absolute. Things
are compared and ranked according to the standard. We also define
ourselves refer to a certain standard. The abstract standard is usually
set according to our own values and social norms as well. Our own values
are very subjective. It is ultimately difficult to look into ourselves.
Therefore, we just define ourselves as we wish. Things become very
different when the third party is involved. The third party could be a
friend, a professor or our parents,and let us call them "social group"
as a whole to see to the difference from a high level. The third party
involvement makes the our process of defining ourselves more objective.
Due to the interacation with others, we get feedbacks from others. People
judge us by social normes and the reaction they have towards us works as
a mirror, reflecting our true self from a beholder's perspective. We
always behave in respect to the definition that we set for ourselves, and
from people's feedback, we get to know how the others think about that.
In this sense, our definition is adjusted to be a better one, eventually
end up complete. That is to say, we primarily define ourselves through
the indenfication with social groups. Without the self-positioning
beforehand, the latter identification with social groups won't be so
effective and useful.
Next, we are likely to go to one extreme if we just define ourselves
totally on our own; and we are also inclined to go to the other extreme if
we merely take others' opinions into account. In the first occasion,
since the definitions are all done by ourselves, we were like blind to
the people and world outside. Our own standard with out comparison with
others is an absolute and not necessarily right one. We are possibly holding
the view that we are perfect and that we are always correct. In the second
ocassion, we are in loss of ourselves,and the force coming from the
outside taking control over us. We are probably dragged by different opinions
to different directions in order that we could never come out with a
consistent edition of definition of our own.
To end up, our ultimate effort to achieve the answer to "Who am I?" provides
us with the movivation to define ourselves, to judge our past behaviors
and to set our future goals. Our contact with the social groups helps us to
understand ourselves in a more comprehensive and objective way, which plays
a primary role in the definition process.
113. It is primarily through our identification with social groups that we define ourselves.
Some may say that people learn about themselves more by being alone than by being among others. However, I believe that people can mostly define themselves through interaction within the social groups.
First off, it is easier and more efficient for people to define themselves trough social interaction than trough self reflection because people can use the method of comparisson and contrast among the social groups. Owing to gregarious human nature, people try to earn a sense of security by being a member of social groups. People look for similarities and differencies with others partly because they want to establish the distinctiveness of their social groups, partly because they want to make their peculiarities compatible with other members of the social group. For example, When I was participating a study club, "Philosophy Society", I fourtunately managed to find some characterists about myself. I found that seriousness for logical reasoning, eagerness for discussion and likeness of alchohol are common with other members. Also, I recognized that sensitivity for word choice and extreme fervor for humanity are a little different from others. Without comparisson and contrast among the people, I might not get a clear idea about who I am.
On the other hand, loners have lesser oppurtunities to know about themselves. They may have enough time to meditate or reflect about who they are, however, it is likely that they become "frogs in the well" due to the lack of social interaction. The process of knowing about oneself is not like the process of solving a mathematical problem. Both process may be similar in that they require "trial and error" process while figuring out the solution. However, there is no "fixed" answer for defining oneself while mathematical problems has its right answer in the back of the book. The only guide line people can rely on in figuring out who they are is "the feedback from others". I tried to find about myself through meditation and self-reflection when I had to choose my major in college. It was not very easy thing to do by myself. However, when one of my best friend, Min, indicated that I had a tendancy of being concerned about logical reasoning during talking, I could learn about one of my characteristics. As a result, his sincere remark on my characteristics was helpful in selecting "philosohpy" as my major in college.
In sum, I have shown that the advantages of social interacion outweigh the advantages of self-reflection in terms of defining ourselves. Comparisson and contrast among social groups as well as some feed backs from others are very crucial in getting a clear idear about who we are.
Re: 113 It is primarily through our identification with social g
113. "It is primarily through our identification with social groups that we
Is what defines ourselves an identification with social groups? With regard to this
issue requiring a lot of thoughts, I would like to say "No". Because everyone himself
or herself has the meaning of life and "definition" generally says not which groups
he or she involves in but what the nature of it is.
First, everyone is the valuable existence regardless of his belongings. The assertion
that human is defined through identification with social groups has the danger that
those who belong to no groups can be valueless. If so, mavericks do not have any
meaning of life? There are such great mavericks as Einstein, Newton, Edison. Without
such mavericks, are the theory of relativity, gravity, and bulb discovered? In this
respect, I think that all people have their own values regardless of which groups he
or she belongs to.
Second, "definition" never means generally to which groups he or she belongs. In my
opinion, "definition" generally means that "an explanation of the meaning of a word".
If so, is a person explained through identification with social groups? I don't think
so. When one explains the others, we generally mention his characteristics, behaviors,
sex, and interests, rarely which groups he or she belongs to. In this manner, what
defines a person is not which groups he or she belongs to but what his or her
characteristics, behaviors, sex, and interests are.
Third, the thought that a social group to which he or she belongs is the primary
method of defining ourselves always has the danger of limiting extremely him or her.
It can be just one of the criteria but cannot be only criteria. If this is the case,
all cristians should be benevolent. All prosoners should be nefarious. However, they
is not real. A few of cristians, despite its rarity, perpetrate sometimes. A few of
prisoners contribute to a philanthropic institution. In this manner, although one
involves in the specific group, the nature of group doesn't reveal all things about
In conclusion, I disagree that what defines primarily ourselves is the identification
with social groups in that everyone has its meaning regardless of which groups he or
she belongs to, the general meaning of "define" is not "identify", and it has strong
danger of restricting him or her. I know well the fact that humans are nothing if not
social animals and have the instinct of participating social groups, but they are
never all of the criteria of defining a person.