Personal identity : moving beyond essence

Webster, R. Scott 2005, Personal identity : moving beyond essence, International journal of children's spirituality, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 5-16, doi: 10.1080/13644360500039162.

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Title Personal identity : moving beyond essence
Author(s) Webster, R. ScottORCID iD for Webster, R. Scott
Journal name International journal of children's spirituality
Volume number 10
Issue number 1
Start page 5
End page 16
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Place of publication London, England
Publication date 2005
ISSN 1364-436X
Keyword(s) authenticity
Summary Education's ancient and profoundly important pursuit to 'know thyself', is often realised through engaging with the question 'who am I?' In order to the identify who in this search, it is argued in this paper that personal identity should be understood to be embedded in the purposes one has for one's life through how one relates, and is therefore spiritual. This spiritual quality of personal identity is therefore existential in character - not essential.

However, often when children respond to this question 'who am I?', they rely upon socially constructed categories and labels such as religious, feminine, cool, punk and the like. The application of such labelling assumes that meaningfulness lies in their essence; that is, they identify what is. This can become most problematic when individuals accept and apply such essentialist labelling to themselves, because such a process can only answer 'what am I?' and not the educationally more important question of 'who am I?' This paper therefore challenges the inadequacy of such an approach and offers a conceptualisation of personal identity which is spiritually embedded in a purpose for one's life.
Language eng
DOI 10.1080/13644360500039162
Field of Research 139999 Education not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 970113 Expanding Knowledge in Education
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2005, Taylor & Francis
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Document type: Journal Article
Collections: Faculty of Arts and Education
School of Education
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