The Duality of Self

By Bill Idaraesit. Bill is a student at the University of Uyo, living in Uyo, Nigeria. Please read her article and leave thoughts and comments below.

Many people’s aim in life is to achieve a goal. Although, it is common to hear people say that they do not have a goal, a dream, an aim in life. This can be true to some extent. But at some point in a person’s life, there is the desire to be recognised, to revenge, to change from a habit or an old self, to be rich, to be the best version of oneself. These come as a result of change and the free gift of free will to choose whatever path in life.

It is very common in this century, to hear people say “know yourself and live up to it”. They see self-knowledge as the makeup of life. In ancient Greece, Socrates stated that the “unexamined life was not worth living”. He also, when asked to sum up what all philosophical commandments could be reduced to, replied, “know yourself”. This assertion is true from a different perspective. Self-knowledge amounts to two things. First, knowing everything concerning oneโ€™s background (age, date of birth, parents, siblings, etc.). Second, being aware of oneโ€™s character, influence, power, class etc. These are very important as self-knowledge leads to self-confidence which in turn leads to success. But self-knowledge becomes dire, when it takes the route of over confidence.

However, I am of the same opinion with Michel Foucault- “I don’t feel that it is necessary to know exactly what I am. The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning”. Imagine growing up in the slums or coming from a poor background: you know the fact that you are poor, but does it stop at knowing that you are a pauper? No. The main interest, which matters to everyone, is to change from being poor to becoming an affluent. It is possible to remain of the same background one came to meet in life, till one is dead, if the person, doesn’t pursue the main interest in life- to be someone else. This is applicable to everyone living, as we all desire to be different from how we were, to make an impact in the society, to be recognised and many more.

Michel Foucault, in the interview he granted, stated that, “Man is a thinking being. The way he thinks is related to society, politics, economics and history and is also related to very general and universal categories and formal structures. The way people think is not adequately analyzed by the universal categories of logic”. This assertion can be likened to social determinism theory. Also, Maya Angelou in Letter to my daughter states, “you cannot control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them”. If I am a presenter, for example, who gets hurt so badly by someone that, as a result, I lose all humanity in me, I would begin to develop another interest-to revenge, and it would become important to me that if I do not react to my urge, it will affect my daily life. Now, I have chosen to be a revenger (what I was not before), to take a field that will teach me how to defend myself or fight, a soldier or a judge (what I was not). At this point, becoming what I was not, in order to defend myself, is the most important thing in my life. This is what life entails, this is the interest in life, to become someone you were not in the beginning in order to achieve a certain goal. If I am a billionaire today, what is important is not the fact that I am a billionaire, but the fact that I was not a billionaire before. The important aspect of life is change-to make changes (positive changes especially), and this should be of utmost importance to everyone.

45 comments on “The Duality of Self

  1. John Joshua on

    Excellente! “But to some point in life there is a desire to be recognisedโ€. I can’t help but agree with this sentiments of hers. Nice Essay.

  2. Christian Okike on

    This is indeed a nice piece.I like the part that says, it shouldn’t just stop at knowing you’re a pauper. Yes it shouldn’t stop there.

    Thanks for this…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletter!