The idea of the pure individual Self is a myth. What actually exists is the individual Self in relation to others.
We snigger at the “selfie mindset” of Generation Z, but forget that so many of our contemporary culture’s highest goals are an unreflective unabashed pursuit of the Self: Self-fulfillment, Self-esteem, Self-actualization, Self-promotion, Self-advancement, Self-love etc… which are considered legitimate, even virtuous, in our dog eat dog world.
Our preoccupation with the Self is the uncontested axiom of our times, assumed without argument. Ironically, even those who protest these norms are often found to live by them. Religious leaders are only one example.
The self is not an island. It’s born into a network of relationships and grows in it and through it – whether infant, teenager, adult or the older folk. Family, community, friendships and society are the soil in which the self flourishes.
The idea of the pure individual Self is a myth. What actually exists is the individual Self in relation to others. As the African term, Ubuntu indicates: “I am because we are”. To ignore this is not only a form of navel-gazing but a misadventure that we need to be rescued from.
Photo by zibik on Unsplash