I know me. I know who I really am. I know what I am capable of. I am independent and I don’t need anyone to tell me who I am or what I should do. I have been the same person from the time I was born and I will remain the same person till I die. The argument of enduring and independent self is been going on for centuries. But can we really say that we have an enduring self? Do we depend on others or are we independent? I believe that we do have an enduring self. We are not fully independent we depend on others to know who we really are. Philosophers like Plato, Rene Descartes, and John Locke believed that we all have n enduring self.
A self that never changes, that keeps us the same person from the moment we are born till we die. According to philosopher Diotima, “we speak of an individual as being the same as long as he continues to exist in the same form” (Velasquez, 98). We can agree to that a little. Our body does not change very much after a certain age. But what about from the time we are born. When we are born, we are just a tiny little kid who weighs 8 pounds. As we grow, our body grows. After few years, we are almost unrecognizable. It is the same case with me. I was born and raised in India. Many of my elatives knew me when I was a kid.
Then they moved to the United States. After 16 years, when I came here, no one recognized me. But they recognized my mother because she has not changed a lot. So, does that mean that my mother is the same person as she was 16 years ago but I am not? Is it my soul that keeps me the same person that I was 19 years ago? Yes. According to Descartes, it is my soul that keeps me the same person that I was years ago. He says in the Meditations that, “Thinking is another attribute of the soul, and I discover what properly belongs to myself. This alone is inseparable from e” (Velasquez, 100).
By saying this Descartes implies that as long as he lives and even after his death; that is the afterlife, he is going to be the same person because his soul is never changing. Is it really true? The people of Hindu religion, who originated in India, believe that every human being is born 7 times before they ultimately rest in peace forever. There have been many cases where people can remember being at a place that they have never visited before and they also talk about the events that happened. In the year 2005, a four-year-old girl named Manisha claimed that her past life name was Suman and he also knew everything about her past life.
She even found her parents from past life and talked to them. Everything she said, every story she told was true. She remembered most of her past life. The one thing that did not change in her was her soul. Her body was changed, her mind, she had new memories, but the only thing that was unchanged was her soul. So, yes, we can say that the soul is enduring, it is what makes us who we are. Philosopher John Locke objects to Descartes’ view. He says that what keeps us the same person from birth till death is our memories. It is what I remember from when I was a child to hen I was an adult, what I did in past and what kind of person I was.
But what if I do not remember anything at all? Will I still be the same person? Maybe not. This is what happened to Michael Boatwright. He was a white male born and raised in Florida. He was in the Navy and after leaving the Navy he traveled to Sweden and learned to speak Swedish. He taught English in China and Japan. One day he was found unconscious and taken to the hospital. When he woke up he had forgotten who he really was. He identified himself as Johan Ek who only spoke Swedish. He did not recognize himself or his family members. He was not the same person as he was before.
So, we can partially agree to Locke that we remain the same person throughout our lives except in extreme conditions like brain damage or memory loss or Alzheimer’s disease If the self-exists, another question we can ask would be is the self-independent from others? Descartes believes that his real self exists within himself and is independent of others. He also says that the main thing about his self is that he can decide for himself, he doesn’t have to rely on others to tell him who he really is. But other philosophers like Aristotle and Georg Hegel argue that there is o independent self.
They think that we all depend on others’ view about ourselves, to know what we really are. Well, it is true that we are independent of others and it is also true that we are dependent on others. Firstly, Descartes says that we have a self that is independent of others. Now, that self in not all independent. Let’s take for example a little kid. We all know that when kids are two or three years old they are dependent on their parents for food, school, taking care, teaching them to speak, to walk and almost everything. But sometimes, they make their own decisions.
Regardless of what their parents tell hem, they will do whatever they want to do, they are independent. What if we see the self the same as a little kid? We are free to make our own decisions. We can do whatever we want to do. We even have laws for that, we have freedom to speak to act to do whatever and no one can stop us; we are free. But who are we free from. Who tells us that we are free? Hegel answered that question by arguing that who one depends on one’s relationship with others and that we can know we are free and independent only if others recognize us as such (Velasquez, 111). I agree with Hegel.
We do depend on others or the recognition of who we are. Hegel also says that who we are, depends on our culture. For example, If people in my culture/society tell me that I am not capable of being independent, then I am going to see myself as dependent on others and will not be able to independent. On the other hand, if they say that I am independent and I can do whatever I want, then I will see myself as an independent self. Some believe that we have an enduring self and some believe that we don’t. those who believe that we have a self, some think that it is dependent and some think that it is independent.
This argument has going n from centuries. Every person has different views about it. For me, I believe that we do have a self that does not change till we die. I can say that I am the same person when I was 10 when I was 15 and even now. It is my memories and my soul that makes me the same person. I also think that I am dependent on others to help me making some of my decisions, to tell me who I am, to tell me that I am free. But I am also independent for making some of my decisions. So, to conclude it all, I can say that I do have an enduring self and it is partially dependent and partially independent of others.