Michel Foucault’s statement is a very interesting comment on human nature. As a French philosopher who studied and questioned human behavior, this is not a surprising statement on his behalf. Humans are a very strange species compared to the rest of the bio life in this world. We are conscious, sentient beings. We feel, think, and work. We are all different from one another as individuals and like to think that we are each unique in our own way. However, I am inclined to believe that the thing that makes humans different is that we have a sense of purpose: to change. All humans change by means of simple growth in size, due to experiences, in pursuit of our personal aspirations for growth, and for that reason, it is not necessary to know what we are because we are always changing.
The entire human experience is to change. A lot of individuals believe that the only constant to human life is change. I assume Foucault would also agree with this statement. As humans, the simplest way we change is through growth. We start off as babies, who change into infants, to toddlers, to children, to teenagers, to adults, and ultimately, to the elderly until our untimely death. We adjust through these different phases in life, and we are not the same individuals we were in the past phase. When we are toddlers, we are expected to learn how to speak. When we are adults, we are not supposed to speak as toddlers, nor act like such. A seventh grade education is not the same as a first grade education because a first grader is not of the same mind or body as a seventh grader.
Another thing that makes people change are experiences. Something that happens in a day can change you from who you were in a morning from what you are at night. Getting in a car crash can change a person from who they were last week. Different experiences will change you, how you think about things, how you react to a future action, and even how you live. Remaining in a similar phase in life will change you. For a lot of people, puberty is especially jarring. The small panic attacks and moments of embarrassment can impact you for a lifetime.
There are of course reasons why we do change. Sometimes we want to change. People aspire to grow and mature. When people decide to go for a specific career or some other goals, they become dedicated to those goals. The journey towards that goal can impact someone enough to change in a way that will help them meet that goal. As teens, we want to become adults with responsibilities. We try to behave more maturely. We try to put in the hard extra hours to buy that house or the car. Some of us become less impulsive when it comes to getting something else added to our credit line. We become different people and whether it is good or bad depends on our own perceptions that we have gained from experience.
For these reasons, it seems that I could agree with Foucault’s statement “I don’t feel that it is necessary to know exactly what I am.” To plague yourself with the trouble of trying to figure out who exactly what you are is moot. You are who you are the day you are it and then some other experience will come along that will cause you to shift again and change. To know exactly who you are is impossible. You can only know what you are in the moment. There are parts of you that will remain, but there are also very real parts of you that will continue to shift. You are not the person you were yesterday. Something truly changed in you to have that shift happen. When discussing humans and friends, we ask what is new. What has changed? We do not care to know what remained constant. Some people analyze who or what they are in the moment but it is truly only with the sole purpose of distinguishing what the differences have been since then compared to the basis of where you are at that moment. Any experience or passing of time can lead you to become something that you once were not.
In a few words, I believe that Michel Foucault may be correct in declaring such a statement. None of us are born to stay a child or baby. We all make goals because we all want to become something else, something better in our personal opinions. No human wants to stay stagnant, therefore it is impossible to know exactly what you are. What you are will never have one single definition. It is better to try to figure out what has changed in your life and where you are going.