Descartes Was Wrong About The Self

Descartes believed that "other people and other things are inherently fickle and erratic" and "so they must have nothing to do with the basic constitution of the knowing self, which is a necessarily detached, coherent and contemplative whole.". But according to the South African philosophy of Ubuntu - and various models of self-development in psychology and sociology - our social and community interactions fundamentally define and create our sense of self.

"According to Ubuntu philosophy, which has its origins in ancient Africa, a newborn baby is not a person. People are born without ‘ena’, or selfhood, and instead must acquire it through interactions and experiences over time. So the ‘self’/‘other’ distinction that’s axiomatic in Western philosophy is much blurrier in Ubuntu thought. As the Kenyan-born philosopher John Mbiti put it in African Religions and Philosophy (1975): ‘I am because we are, and since we are, therefore I am.’"

"We need others in order to evaluate our own existence and construct a coherent self-image."

#philosophy #psychology #self #identity #ubuntu

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