Who am I? Who are You? not a soup can i hope...

"Søren Kierkegaard - Subjectivity, Irony and the Crisis of Modernity" is the course i'm following online, delivered by the University of Copenhagen in Coursera site. The conclusion of the 4th lecture of dr Jon Stewart attempts to leash the 19th's century philosophical concerns to modern's society issues. The words he uses ring a bell deep inside my brain and i couldn't help but write them down and share them...

" Kierkegaard's account of the Romantics and modern irony sounds like an interesting chapter in the history of ideas, but, is this really meaningful in any way for our modern world today?

 Let's think for a moment about who we are and our role in the modern life. Each and every one of you has an idea or a conception of yourself. Take a moment and reflect on what that is. When you look at yourself in the mirror and ask "who am I?", what kind of an answer do you give yourself? Our problem in the world is that as soon as we try to articulate who we are we immediately run into the problem that there are many other  people who share exactly the same characteristics that we do. When i say, for example, that i' m a person who enjoys reading about philosophy or a person who's interested in the thought of Kierkegaard, then i' ve not really said anything that could define who i am as an individual, since there are many other people in the world, who share exactly these same properties. It then becomes a more urgent question to determine what it is that makes me uniquely who I am. We often identify ourselves by our clothes, our styles and possessions. But, when i look at myself, i see that i am wearing this shirt, these pants, these shoes, but none of these things is uniquely mine.

Since the industrial revolution, virtually everything is made in mass quantities by machines. The danger is that each of us has become just one more product of this machine. Think of Andy Warhol's famous picture of the Cambell's soup tomato cans lined up one on top of another.

The fear of many of us is that we might become like one of these soup cans. Some people have an urge deep within to revolt against this and to assert their individuality in the face of this kind of conformity. Think of all the way people try to be different from everyone and express something unique about themselves. Some people dye their hair an odd or striking color or get a tattoo or pierce some unusual part of their body. But these gestures, while at first radical, also seem to fall short since, in a very short time, they are also copied by others, and soon a trend starts, and the result is again the same. It is these challenges that we face today. We feel quite convinced that there is something special and unique that makes us who we are. But WHAT is this and HOW can we express it? When we fail to answer these questions, we feel disoriented and lost in the world. We feel lost since we can take no consolation in the community or social groups, since they undermine our individuality and make us into faceless members of a larger whole. So again, ask yourself, who are you really? Of seven billion human beings on the planet, what makes you the unique person you are?

Yannis Gaitis "Ulysses & the Sirens"


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