Symbolic Self-Completion

Symbolic Self-Completion

Symbolic Self-Completion

Symbolic Self-Completion

Excerpt

The problem we address here is the human pursuit of self-definitions. Self- definitions can vary widely with respect to the context in which they are found, and in regard to who aspires to possess them. Violinist, mother, humanitarian, intellectual, equestrian, and French-speaker are all examples of self-definitions. As such, they are goals that the human pursues--with the intent of substantiating the claim of being a violinist, mother, or whatever self-definition to which the person aspires. Thus the self aspect of symbolic self-completion consists of the specific self-definition to which the individual is committed.

Symbolic refers to the building blocks of these self-definitions. We assume that because the self-definition is originally created within a social context, the means by which a person acquires the self-definition are also social. And if the individual's sense of possessing a self-definition is built via social means, it becomes necessary for each individual to have access to a method of symbolizing that possession, so that others can react to the symbol. By means of self- aggrandizing, by exerting influence on others, and by manifesting a variety of indicators of the self-definition in question--all of these being the building blocks--the individual stands to gain a sense of being recognized for being complete, within the sought-after self-definition. This recognition leads, in turn, to an enhanced feeling of being complete as a violinist, mother, French-speaker, and so forth.

Suppose that someone aspires toward the self-definition intellectual, but lacks the building blocks associated with this self-definition. There are deficiencies in education, the person's occupation is not befitting of an intellectual, and very . . .

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