“I am a living, breathing organism signified by the words ‘human being’. I am a material or physical being fairly recognizable over time to me and to others: I am a body. Through my body, I can move, touch, see, hear, taste and smell. The array of physical sensations available to me also includes pain, hunger, thirst, tiredness, injury, sickness, fear, apprehension and pleasure. In this way I experience myself, others and the world around me. However, there is another aspect of me not directly visible or definable. This is the aspect of me which thinks and feels, reflects and judges, remembers and anticipates. Words used to describe this aspect include ‘mind’, ‘spirit’, ‘heart’, ‘soul’, ‘awareness’ and ‘consciousness’. This part of me is aware that I can never be fully known or understood by myself or by others; it notices that although there may be some unchanging essence which is ‘me’, this same ‘me’ is also constantly changing and evolving.
So I am a physical body and an emotional and psychological (or spiritual) being. The two together make me a person. Being a person means that I have virtues and flaws, gifts and needs, possibilities and defeats. I am basically good, but I am capable of evil. I am neither an angel nor a monster. Being a person means that I am a social animal, needing connection, recognition and acceptance from others, while simultaneously knowing myself as isolated and solitary, with many experiences which are never fully shareable with others. However, I also realize that this paradoxical condition is a universal experience, and this enables the emergence of empathy and compassion for others as it affords glimpses of understanding and solicitude, mutuality and intimacy. Being a person means that I am like all other persons, but also unique. It also means that I can never provide a genuinely definitive answer to the question.”
I stumbled upon this quote by Dr. Kathleen O’Dwyer, lecturer at Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, Ireland, on Philosophy Now. Her answer to the question “Who Am I?” is quite possibly the most strikingly honest and realistic that I have seen yet. Though her words are quite simple, grasping the concept of being anything but human can be difficult to understand. Of course she is outlining a dualistic view of our existence. Let me know what you take from this week’s quote!