Friday, January 18, 2008

Real vs. Perceived Identity

The issue of real vs. perceived identity came up in a conversation I was having today. When I talk about identity here I don't quite mean it in the normal sense of the word. The way I'm using it here makes it almost synonymous with understanding. Hopefully you identify with what I'm saying :). Getting back, I've got a definition for perceived identity - your identity to another person based on the way they perceive you - but I'm not sure I've got anything for real identity. The first idea that comes to mind is a person's view of themselves. After all, they've got a complete picture, right? I don't know if this works just because of all the personal biases involved - it would take a very humble or very objective person to give themselves a fair evaluation of character. Does that bias matter? My next inclination is to say that real identity would be another person's view if they knew everything there was to know about the person being identified - but that seems wrong too. That person is bound to have their own set of biases and, though they might not have any personal interest vested in this other person, they're sure to relate or disagree with certain things which will skew things a bit. Ideally, this identity would be the same regardless of who's view it was given they had all the information they needed. Maybe real identity, then, is just an abstract idea to talk about but something we might never achieve. I can deal with that I suppose. Perceived identity is much more practical if we assume that that's the case since it's the only thing we can actually measure or use. Of course everyone will perceive things differently but at least now we've got something to work with and opinions to compare. Another intersting idea to mention is that we might be able to say whether a particular perceived identity is or is not someone's real identity. Or maybe we'll just be able to say whether it isn't but never that it is? It certainly isn't, or it might be? Hmmm. I think, as usual, this takes us back to what exactly we mean when we say "identity." Since I think that might undermine the idea behind this entire post, I'll save that for another day. Thoughts?

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