Sunday, February 28, 2010

a note on “selfidentity”

Yes: no hyphen. The identity that a person is is so much more than something one has, such that a wholehearted reflectivity or conception of oneself can be more and better than what’s standardly meant by ‘self-identity,’ which has two standard senses (according to M-W Unabridged online):

“(1) the identity of a thing with itself; substantial samesness.” I’m glad, when I wake up, that I “have” (without giving it a thought) the same body I had yesterday. But the idiom of “having” one’s embodiment is implicitly an alienation, a legacy of culture (born from longing that mentality survive death). One doesn’t have a body. I’m embodied. Being embodied is not basically about representations of a body that’s mine that you (or an anatomist) might also represent. The notion of body apart from my feeling and moving is an abstraction from infancy’s immediacy that cognitive development grants me ability to make. When I touch one finger to another, I at once feel being felt and feel the finger feeling felt. I move, I move. It’s not merely that a body moves, not merely that my body moves. I have an arm—I have an arm: My arm is part of my embodied being as I reach to hold with no thought of the arm reaching for whatever. Loss of an arm severely affects one’s sense of being in the world or there being selfness (ultimately as there being itself, as such, abstracted from what’s there).

I’m embodied, the moving individuated over years as, at least, growing interests, capabilities, and sensibility consolidating experience, imagination, and memory as one Self (t)here. Yet, the sameness of myself is elusive, like an intimacy of mystery. Calling myself “substantial,” in the sense that substances are, would be invalid. (Calling myself substantial in the sense of importance would be presumptuous—something likely questionable).

“(2) the identity of subject and object in life and consciousness.” I may be considered a subject, by you, by my own representations of what pertains to “me,” but “I” does the representing, I do what may be considered subjective. I’m not basically a subject to-and-for myself; I’m the considering itself. “I” is the kind of thing (“object”) that is—I am—the finding there of the thing, the momentary giving-in of myself, given over, to the thing itself, as if experience is born of the thing, and I become the thing there-ing, thinging—the oddest kind of “object” in the known universe: a human being.

My ownmost identity is almost always implicit as the confident flow of doing things, feeling (without a thought of this) coherence of the moment, the day, myself, my life. Self-determining efficacy, exemplified by representations, may reflect on its doing, its enactivity, momentary or extended (“my life”), also cumulatively (reflection on oneself all tolled), such that the sense of living gains some description as identity (self-representation of Self: individuating time representing itself as oneself, as one self). As apparently definitive of me (to myself), as especially who I “am,” that sense of identity or self may be the prevailing sense of Self (self concept) for my life: my ownmost “self” as such—being one Self, yet appropriated as articulated identity-of-oneself, with which “I” so identifies. (I’ll later try to more-usefully clarify a difference between capped and non-capped use of ‘self,’ better enacting a sense of temporal high scale from which pragmatic articulation derives.)

So, I render this psychological, this philosophical kind of investment with ‘selfidentity’ and ‘selfidentification.’ Selfidentity is my embodied, living (investing) sense of ‘self-identity’, so explicating my sense of myself, so confessedly identified “with” (as), wholeheartedly here, being as, confidently (substantially), cohering time in my own way, enactively (expressly) integrating expressibility (as such: “I”) and representation (I as to “me”) in temporally cohering lifeworldliness in terms of enacted understanding.

My sense of ‘selfidentity’ is more than an obtuse stylization of the standard meaning of ‘self-identity.’ My term emblemizes a philosophical engagement whose usefulness—exemplarity? (generalizability?)—remains to be shown, yet will be shown: as an engagement that’s “philosophical” in a very good sense.