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  • Tony Holden

Understanding ourselves well enough

[1] I imagine that our favourite activities include things like family, travel, IT and media, gardening, singing, sport, making things. Such activities [including my favourites of writing and drawing] allow us to both express ourselves and to be capable of being changed [maybe ‘transformed’ asks too much!].

[2] We humans have many ways of describing ourselves and mapping-out our identities that are to do with family, language, gender, ethnicity, class, culture, religion, politics, education, work and so on. We use these [givens] to form and develop values; to shape aspects of ourselves; to rehearse the roles we need; and to relate to others.

[3] It’s by no means a new idea, but I think a key one, that each human is more than one thing: hence my long-term use of the term ‘aspects of myself.’ Of course, we aim for health, mindfulness, wholeness, holiness even. Each of these approaches [disciplines] is to do with ‘being oneself.’ I like Bernard Williams: “The starting point of philosophy is that we do not understand ourselves well enough [essays 2014].”

[4] Part of understanding ourselves ‘better’ means not being over-individualistic: when we are, we fail to do justice to our interdependence, connectedness and the communities to which we belong. Another part of ‘understanding ourselves better,’ means working at the richness of those ‘aspects of myself’ that constitute what I am – the direction and purpose of my life here and now.

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