Physiognomy: The Sense Of Self, Identity, And Identity

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The Oxford Dictionary defines identity as ‘the fact of being who or what a person or thing is’, while many would say that a person’s identity can be described as their sense of self and the diverse contexts within that selfhood is constructed.
However, despite all of the analysis and vast literature on the topic of selfhood there are still no completely agreed upon definitions of the self. Several scholars argue that it can never be given one simple, consistent description. The majority of authors are inclined to avoid the ‘unanswerable’ question of what self is and their constructions are based more on implicit understandings than clear-cut descriptions. As with the idea of consciousness, the self is catalogued amid those notions that are
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This is a pseudoscience which assesses character and morality from outer appearance, applying the practice of “judging a book by its cover” to the human form. However, one could argue that facial expressions and gestures, as well as race and gender, are socially and culturally learned and not necessarily a reflection on the person’s inner self. The theories of Physiognomy have been discredited and this is one of the reasons why numerous contemporary photographers criticize the conventional portrait and dismiss the belief that the portrait can claim to reveal or capture the inner being, the soul; which they instead categorise as myth. They also refuse the idea that a portrait is believed to be believable and adequate complete resemblance, of the individual being photographed. (Ewing, 2004,…show more content…
Is childhood perhaps a set of performances, like staged tableaux, and made for adults, in which the body is the focus of attention and expression? And in those stumbling, hesitant, performances, did we, and do our children, learn to act out roles for the rest of our lives? The concept of identity as unconsciously practiced performance: of gender especially, but also of class, race and sexuality, is fast becoming a critical truism. (Butler, 1990). As an adult, perhaps I may try to construct the childhood as an “age of innocence”, but in real time, rather than the adult imagination, adolescence is an age of spots and listlessness, of massive ephemeral excitements and tedious eternities. It is an age when ideas of sexual identity and self are evanescent and fragmentary. You try to out make-up for the first time, experiment with the social marks of femininity and masculinity, and with the marks of rebellion… (Townsend, C. 1998). Like a work of fiction, images call for explanation, to know how we feel about it now. Unable to communicate for itself, the photograph needs its viewers to tell it what it might enclose, and we are unnerved by our multitude of answers. The portrait is a sign whose purpose is both the description of an individual and the inscription of social identity.’ The portrait
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