Theories of self and identity
We might as well begin with the age-old, perennial question. What is a self? Who am I? C.S. Lewis once commented: 'There is one thing, and only one in the whole universe which we know more about than that we could learn from external observation. That one thing is ourselves. We have, so to speak, inside information, we are in the know' (Lewis 1952: 25). But how true is this? Are we 'in the know' about ourselves? Many of us spend large portions of our life in a state of mixed confusion, subsumed by contradictory thoughts, feelings and emotions. Even on those occasions when we know exactly how we feel, we're not always sure why we feel the way we do. So perhaps the idea that we 'know' ourselves is a bit inaccurate. Wouldn't it be more accurate to say that we are 'strangers' to ourselves, our whole lives lived much as a mystery? We bumble along like second-rate detectives, fitting the pieces together as we go, but invariably failing to pull it all together, this elusive 'I' which, 'like the shadow of one's own head, will not wait to be jumped upon' (Ryle 1973:178).