Becoming an Individual in Rewriting the Soul by Ian Hacking Essay

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In a planet consisting of over six billion humans, finding individuality in oneself becomes an arduous task. There exists in man the desire to be recognized by others as an individual with specifically positive qualities. Therefore, based on the labels assigned to him, he creates his desired persona. This concept is exemplified in Rewriting the Soul by Ian Hacking through his theory of the looping effect, which portrays a cycle of mutual changes based on the influence of classifications and those classified. Humans are given labels and thus act appropriately to either maintain the favorable labels or diminish those which appear negative. This creates a fabrication based on the influence of others rather than a true self. The mimicry of external influences, the constant and natural need to adapt to labels, and their false perceptions of the past inhibit humans from acquiring genuine self-knowledge.

The term “self-knowledge” is a fairly ambiguous term so I will begin by laying out the definition that applies to this paper. Self-knowledge is defined by Merriam-Webster as “knowledge or understanding of one’s own capabilities, character, feelings, or motivations” In simple terms, it is being aware of one’s self. To have self-knowledge is to have a definable persona with qualities and characteristics that are identifiable by the occupant. Additionally, being aware of one’s self means having power and control over one’s identity rather than being shaped by outwardly influences.…

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