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The Divided Self Essay

2150 words - 9 pages

In my elementary youth, I remember my father showing me a trick with the window-sized mirrors on our bathroom cabinet. He opened the cabinet mirrors such that they faced each other at an angle and then told me to stand in the space between them. Upon stepping in, I was face to face with a visibly infinite number of planes of myself. Little did I know at the time, by introducing me to what appeared to being a virtually endless line of clones, my father was formally introducing me to both yet another indeterminacy of the natural world and, at higher level, to the multiplicity of who I am. Being only five years old at the time, I was in total shock and awe at this defying void, which challenged all of my preexisting conceptions of the world around me; I was no longer one reflecting plane that stared right back at me, I was seemingly much more than that. My father left me there to figure it out on my own. As years passed, I would stand there for hours at time, gazing at the umpteen images of myself in the mirror. Although I was soon able to easily comprehend the various properties of reflection—thus honing it to the extent that it is only narrowly indeterminate—I have to create a more rigid conception of the person I see in the mirror.
My father shattering these determinacies, which were once laid out so easily before me, was an entry into confusion, but at the same time a step towards clarity and understanding in the long run. Though this scenario is only instance in perceiving and making sense of the world around me, it gives way to the more pressing implication that life is nothing more than an endless cycle of entry and exit into and out of confusion. In the sense of interpreting ourselves, people do not arrive at a single ultimatum in self-definition, simply because no one’s circumstances are static. Thus, as Charles Taylor states, “Human beings are self-interpreting animals” (“Human Agency and Language”). It is human nature to interpret and reinterpret life and find meaning of one’s place in the world. Without such knowledge, or belief for that matter, any possibility of humanity is lost. Hence, humans are plagued with the necessity to interpret themselves and their connections to their surroundings—both human and physical. Because one’s connections and contexts for interpretation are endless in some sense, humans are inherently a divided self—the culmination of all given interpretations they make for themselves and interpretations from others. In addition, this totality of interpretations through the lens selves as being what is around you, it follows that poetic-rhetorical language is necessary in discussion of the divided self.
In a general sense, I am a “self interpreting animal” (“Human Agency and Language”) in that it is in my nature to constantly strive for clarity, amidst the countless indeterminacies present in my life. In Charles Taylor’s sense, this is the crucial characteristic that makes me human—it sets me apart from animals or...

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