In his Critique of Pure Reason, Immanuel Kant discusses what makes up identity. He suggests that identity comes from self-consciousness and that self-consciousness arises from a combination of ideas that a person calls their own. This combination of ideas arises as a result of understanding how things are related. This seems to mean that the more people relate different ideas in the same ways the more similar their personal identities.
So how does this factor into schooling? Schools are institutions in which students are taught to make connections in a specific way. For example, we learn relations between letters and words, colors and objects, reprimands or rewards and actions, etc. Everyone is taught to make these same connections. Furthermore, many schools are restrictive and do not allow for deviance. For example, in math class, a student may discover a new way to solve a problem, one that is different from the way the teacher explained. Although the student came up with the correct answer, the teacher reprimands the student, or takes points off a test because it was not the “right” way to solve the problem. This reinforces connections the teacher made earlier between the idea of correctness and her method of solving the problem.
I believe this shows the limiting effect of schooling. It creates fewer differences between the ways in which people combine their ideas and therefore fewer differences in identity.
In this section of John Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding, the reader gets a glimpse into the tangled terminology of “identity.” He introduces the idea of separating one from the other to create said identity when he says “one thing cannot have two beginnings of existence, nor two things one beginning” (II. 27. 1). Here, Locke uses the approach of dissecting the concept of existence and being, therefore designating any one thing to solely one origin and by later providing examples using the atom and the oak from a tree. Continue reading
In Book II of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding Locke succeeds at confusing me. Which I can only assume is what he was trying to do because I have no idea what his intent was otherwise—I was that confused. From what I gather, our identities are basically a continuum of awareness of ourselves at any instant in time? It is mind boggling to think of myself as being aware of myself in a series of “insensibly succeeding” snapshots of being and it is very bleak to think that now, that instant where I was so hopelessly mind-boggled by Locke is a part of my collective self-awareness and inextricably a part of my identity for as long as I remain aware of that instant. Which brings me to one of many questions: Does reality even have anything to do with our identites? Continue reading
Fast forward almost two centuries from Aristotle’s time to that of John Locke’s, we approach Locke’s profoundly titled work “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding” (or more like, “Four Books Concerning Human Understanding”). Continue reading
Locke’s argument of identity and diversity made my head spin, simply because he examines it way more thoroughly than most people do. When I think of identity, I mostly define it as something that makes it who or what they are. However, Locke goes farther than that by describing in terms of existence; there is only one version of you, and every place and second that the state changes, that version of you is no more. It exists by itself. Even though you still continue to be “you,” those versions of you are only the diversity of your existence.