The Autonomous Self and the Dichotomy of Individualism

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The Autonomous Self and the Dichotomy of Individualism It is not only intellectuals and English theory professors who spend countless hours and study attempting to determine the notion of self. People all over the world do it everyday, whether consciously or unconsciously. People question who they are and how their lives are structured in relation to the society in which they live. From questioning why they forgot the eggs on the grocery list to why life seems to be an eternal roller-coaster, people have an innate desire to learn about the self and how it functions in day-to-day life. People are always searching for an answer, which seems impossible to find: was I pre-determined to forget those eggs regardless of how prominent I made them on my list? Am I the cause of the chaos in my life because of the personal decisions I chose? People look towards various higher powers in their lives for answers to the eternal ‘self’ question, but an often overlooked and misinterpreted response comes from the minds of intellectuals who work on literary theory. Literature provides readers with various notions of the origin of the self. Only through analyzing and interpreting complex text, however, does this information bring to light a discovery of the self within the searching mind. Understanding the modernist and post modernist views of the self in association with individualism is important in comprehending the divide between the ideal and oneself: is the pinnacle of self an autonomous being? Examining the works of Richard Sennett, “Autonomy, An Authority Without Love,” and Stephen Frosh, “Social Experience and the Constructed Self,” provides a solid foundation for the reader in understanding and deconstructing the notion of se... ... middle of paper ... how self-determined and determined the concept of individualism truly is. Complex, intricate, but profound are the views of literate theory on the notion of ‘self.’ After such a dissection of the ‘self’, one may wonder if its origins and intricacies will ever be truly understood, particularly within the context of Sennett and Frosh. Oftentimes it takes works such as theirs to force the mind to think differently and generate more questions than answers – a sign of intelligence, learning, and understanding at their best. Each person has their own notions of what it means to be a ‘self,’ and theory should expand and solidify these notions while at the same time bring those ideas into question. By uncovering ones belief of the ‘self’ the self then lives and thrives on a higher plane – the pinnacle of understanding the ultimate question: “Who am I?”.

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