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Philosophical Perspective of the Self


“Know thyself”, his explanation to explain why he has no time for the attempts to rationally explain mythology or other far flung topics.

“But I have no leisure for them at all; and the reason, my friend, is this: I am not yet able, as the Delphic inscription has it, to know myself; so it seems to me ridiculous, when I do not yet know that, to investigate irrelevant things.

He later expounded the phrase. “The unexamined life is not worth living”. Understanding thyself would have a greater yielded factor of understanding the nature of human being.

Syllogistically, understanding oneself would enable thyself to have an understanding of others as a result.

“The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself; to be conquered by yourself is of all things most shameful and vile.”

“The purpose of all wars is peace.”

Thomas Aquinas
“The things we love tell us what we are”

Rene Descartes
“You just keep pushing. You just keep pushing. I made every mistake that could be made. But I just kept pushing.”

Sociology: The Self and the Development of the Social World

Albert Bandura (Social Cognitive Theory)
He told to Richard Evans (Evans, 1989) that his decision to become a psychologist was quite accidental; that is, it was the result of a fortuitous event.

Observational learning requires (AOBM)
Attention to a model
Organization and retention of observation
Behavioral production
Motivation to perform the modeled behavior


  • Knowing the self requires an understanding of our society and its culture 
  • It is impossible to ultimately know the self without comprehending the culture of our society.
  • The self as a social being, is influenced by the values, traditions and beliefs the that society holds dear. 
  • Culture is defined by Edward Taylor as “a complex whole which includes knowledge, beliefs, arts, morals, laws, customs, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by a member of  society.”
  • The study of culture is embedded in Anthropology and Sociology.  Anthropology is inclusive study of of the human race, its culture and society, and its physical development. It deals with the origin of humanity  and its cultural development.
  • Sociology is the scientific study of human life, social groups, whole societies and the human world.  deals with human behavior as social  beings tha their relationship with many other people.  
  • Anthropology and sociology lead us to dig deeper into how we see  ourselves in the lights of the culture which we are exposed to.
  • The immediate family is the primary source of our socialization, which familiarize us with the ought and ought not
  • As we grow older culture becomes an integral  and inescapable part .of our humanity.
  • Our culture set the NORMS  of the people.  norms are what dictates our behavior in the society.  These are social standards  which tell us whether our behavior ar acceptable or not.  
  • The SELF from a social and anthropological perspective cannot be dichotomized from its culture.



  • Material culture consists of human technology – all the things that people make and use.  This is the physical manifestation of culture.  The evolution f material culture can be attributed to the technological advances that humanity was able to make.  Cultural exchanges paved the way for the alteration of material culture
  •  Non-material culture are the intangible human creations that include beliefs, values, norms and symbols. These  non-material culture helps shape our perspective of the society, of ourselves, and even of the material world.  (e.g.  conservatism)
  • Issues on same sex marriage, 
  • The material and non-material cultures are vital in the understanding of self in society.  
  • Culture is a significant factor in the continuity of a society.
  • Our social personality is a reflection of the culture itelf.


  • An individual explains his actions through the lens of his society 
  • Stages: Engaging in Imitation, Engaging in play, engaging in games, Recognizing the generalized other.
  • The self becomes aware of the values adhered by his communal group.
  • If one does NOT adhere to the values of the group, he will considered as a deviant, be ridiculed or even ostracized by the society.  


  • Considered culture as a set of control mechanisms – engineered programs to direct human behavior 
  • Man as an unfinished animal, always dependent on structures to control his behavior; it is necessary that man be governed by rules to guide him in making sure that his actions will make him a better member of the society.  
  • The laws of the land provide the most comprehensive rules by which man is expected to abide.  


  • Cultural relativism
  • Individualistic versus collectivist societies  (Independent and Interdependent societies)


  • Culture is dynamic
  • Advances in technology 


  • Generation Z, known as the “selfie generation”.  They are also culture creators, who practically life their lives and present themselves in the virtual world.  
  • Born between 1995 and 2010).  This generation has embraced and balanced multiple cultures, they are moving their cultural identity beyond simple definitions of race and ethnicity. 
  • They are considered as culture creators, changers and collaborators


  • China adheres to the teachings of Confucius, considered as the Supreme Sage and Founder of Chinese civilization.
  • The teachings of Confucius is the basis of social relationships reflecting collectivism as its core.
  • Five Cardinal Relationships in Confucianism:

Ruler & subject; Father & Son; Husband & Wife; Elder brother & Younger Brother; 

Friend & Friend 

  • The symbiosis of selfhood and otherness is the Confucian concept of the self as a dynamic process of spiritual development
  • Confucianism is a social philosophy delineating social relationships with the end foal of spiritual growth
  • Self-cultivation involves a dynamic process in the spirit of  Filiality, brotherhood, friendship, discipleship and loyalty 


Why do I look like me?

  • Science explains that our parents are very much instrumental in understanding why we look how we look.
  • Gregor Mendel figured our how genes are passed from parents to offsprings in plant, including humans. Genetics has a hand on our physical appearance.  Heredity 
  • Heredity definition, the transmission of genetic characters from parents to offspring: it is dependent upon the segregation and recombination of genes during meiosis and fertilization and results in the genesis of a new individual similar to others of its kind but exhibiting certain variations resulting from the particular mix of genes and their interactions with the environment.


  • As culture decides  the norms of the society, its concept of what is beautiful os similarly invoked from cultural perspective.
  • Different cultures have different standards of beauty.

Ex. Tahiti an African country, women were set aside for fattening purposes and their skin covered with tapa bark cloths, believing that being fat and beng light skinned are  signs of beauty and wealth.

  • Acc. To Lakoff and Scherr, “ beauty was not a product of wealth, but a commodity in and off itself.  In other words, it was no longer a matter of looking in wealth to find beauty, but of looking to beauty to find status.  Now, beauty could give the illusion of wealth.
  • In the Philippines, the construction of local standards of  beauty can be trace from our colonial influence. 
  • Free as we are claiming we are, our mindset is still a slave of the white culture.

The Filipino Obsession with Beauty: The case of XAnder Ford 

  • The Filipino obsession with beauty translates not only with women but also with men.  

Hashts5 – boy band , cyber bullying , Marlou Arizala, a victim of  Eurocentric standard if beauty. The same standard victimizing oue own people.  Sponsored by a cosmetic surgery clinic, he underwent a series of operations to change his physical appearance.  

Shirly Saturnino, underwent the same procedure, but died of fat embolism. 

  • People suffering from Body Dysmorphic Disorder p those who are so obsessed with their physical appearance.   They seek cosmetic surgeries like liposuction, breast augmentation, eyelid surgery, Rhinoplasty, tummy tuck, facelift, breast lift, dermabrasion, forehead lift, hair transplantation, etc.  
  • People who are not beaitifyl are ridiculed, hence they lost their  self-confidence and break their self- esteem.
  • Anorexia is defined as “ a serious mental illness where people are of low weight, limiting their energy inbtake.  It can affect anyone of any age, gender or background.  The take less food, do lots of exercise, of may take large amount of food and then vomit (purge) them 
  • Body shaming – criticizing oneself or others may also cause loss of self-confidence
  • Body Image Disturbance (BID) consists of two components – Perceptual component – how we accurately perceive our body size or body size estimation –  and Attitudinal component – how we think and feel about our body size and shape. (which if not correctly processed may result in body dissatisfaction. 

The Filtered Self 

  • Use of filter applications to hide our imperfections, creating and recreating our self  to be approved by our online friend.  
  • The more we approved our filtered self, the more we disregard our unfiltered physical selves. 

Celebrating Beauty in Diversity

  • Cultural concept of beauty should be celebrated and respected.  However, practices that enhance attractiveness, yet are severely harmful to the health, should be stopped.  

You are What you look! Embracing your Physical Self

  • We are deemed as the masterpiece of our Creator of the universe: carefully,  precisely, and worthily created.  
  • The significance of SELF-ACCEPTANCE is necessary to embracing our physical self.   We need  not fret if the way we look does not live to the standards set by our society.  We have to be reminded that our health is foremost of all of these.  
  • It is important to learn to accept and embrace  who we are, with all the beauty, flaws and imperfections, because it is the only way that we can live on peace and at peace with our selves.  


Self / Self- Concept

According to Carl Rogers, self or self-concept “is an organized, consistent set of perceptions of and beliefs about oneself.” These perceptions ad beliefs that comprise our self-consept are called self-schema which are formed by different factors: 1.  past experiences, 2. personality traits, 3.  abilities, 4.  physical features, 5.  values, 6.  goals, 7.  social roles, 8.  own observations, 9.  feedback from others.

Why can our self-concept be fluid – because all these fctors are dynamic, ever-changing.  Our self-schemas “influence not only current behavior, but also future behavior.”

Real and Ideal Self 

The real self is who we actually are, how I see me, also called the actual self

The ideal self is the person we want to be, the idealized version of ourselves, and how I should be.

Our ideal self is essential in guiding and motivating s how to behave in a way that would lead us the the best version of who we want to be.  It is a helpful motivation in guiding the real self to strive and continue improving.

Use of visual imagining exercise – focus on the positive.

How aligned are the real self with the ideal self?  There is congruence or alignment if there is a small gap between our real self and our ideal self. There is incongruence or misalignment if a huge gap exist between the real self and the ideal self.  This may lead to having low self-esteem or self- worth and may cause instability in one’s psychological well-being. Defenses – denial aand perceptual distortion.

If the level of incongruence is too much to handle, it is best to seek help through counseling from people who can help.

We have to learn to separate behaviors from the totality  of one’s being.  

Self-esteem and Self-efficacy

Self-esteem refers to one’s overall assessment of one’s worth as a person.  This refers to how we value our selves and perceive our worth as a person.

Self esteem includes our social image, emotional self-image, academic self-image, and physical self-image. Our social image has to do with our relationships with peers and significant other; Our emotional self-image is shown in our emotional expressions like anger, happiness, love, etc.  Our academic self-image has to do with our school standing in the differen subjects we are taking.  Our physical self-image has to do our physical appearance, like height, weight, smile, hair style. 

Self-efficacy is how one performs.  It is directly correlated wit self-esteem.  When our self-efficacy or our performance improves, our self-esteem also improves which will lead to congruence.  

For self-esteem and self-efficacy to increase, we need to to learn to give unconditional  positive regard to each other.

What/who  is a fully functioning person?  A person who is in touch with the here and now, his or her subjective experiences and feeling are continually growing and changing.

Characteristics:  openness to experience, flexible self-concept, unconditional positive regard for the slef and the ability to live in harmony with others.  

We need to continue investing and valuing ourselves by learning relevant everyday.  Everything that we learn and own always stays with us as priceless assets.

When you invest your time in developing yourself personally and professionally; you are role-playing as a catalyst for self-growth.   Read books, news, expose your brain to creative ideas, meet good people. 

“It is, never to late, to be what you might have been.”  George Eliot

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