Meanings of Identity

  • Bojan Žalec Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
Keywords: man, person, identity, anthropology, philosophy


The text is an essay on philosophical anthropology. Its aim is to present a critical survey of modern views on topics which are marked by such words as identity, self, I, person and similar. The conceptions are classified in several groups and subgroups (psychological, historical, sociological, culturological, anthropological and akin reflections on identity, a philosophical class). The comparison of such a huge spectrum of views is rarely done, but it is nevertheless needed, because it is one of the principle goals of scientific activity to establish general claims. The main findings and conclusions that the author finds correct are the following: A topic, which occupied (Heidegger) and still occupies (Taylor) an important part of philosophy of man, is authenticity. One of the great merits of Martin Buber is that he showed that a successful philosophical anthropology can be, for purely fundamental inherently philosophical reasons, neither individualistic even less collectivistic. Man and a person are in a certain sense functional concepts. Further, we cannot comprehend persons and their unities independently from some narrative. A man is a story-telling animal. Anti-essentialism goes hand in hand with some kind of pragmatism, which can be positive in a certain measure. A contemporary pragmatist refutes the grounding and justification of ethics or morality respectively. A moral stance is not a matter of rationality. This is acceptable till the moment when this pragmatism does not become in fact a dogmatic demagogy which, with its talking about the irrationality of morality covers, hides a possibility of a rational explication or demonstration of (certain) implications or consequences of the position in question. Here the ethics is a very rational matter and eo ipso so also is the philosophical anthropology.