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March 7, 2020 / Congau

Questioning Identity

Who are you? What is your identity?

The identity of a thing is that which distinguishes it from everything else. My left hand has a different identity from my right hand. If two things are identical, they are strictly speaking the same thing, but if there are really two of them, at least they occupy different positions in space, so they are not identical. Identity is uniqueness.

What then makes you unique? What is your identity?

You see, now you can’t mention your nationality since you share it with millions of people. Gender or sexual orientation are hardly distinguishing factors either. What then? Profession? Well, then it starts to narrow down, but obviously a lot more has to be added to make up the unique combination that constitutes you. I’m not asking you to list them all since that would merely serve to provide the coordinates for your position in the world, and that’s probably also not what the question implies. What would be worth considering is this: Which property is the most important part of our identity? What is the one thing that more than anything makes you the person you are?

Who are you? What makes you you?

We would have to look for what is most crucial to your personality. A factor like nationality, the country where you grew up, undoubtedly had an influence in forming you, but it’s hardly the most significant one. There would be many foreigners in this world who are more similar to you than many of your countrymen.

It would therefore be more meaningful to tie the question of identity to your psychological personality type, and that’s what I would want to know when I ask about your identity.

However, that’s probably not the kind of answer that’s normally expected, so who am I to demand a different answer. By all means, tie your identity to your nationality or gender or whatever you choose, I’m just saying, it doesn’t make sense.

So, who are you? You don’t have to answer.

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