chapter
22 Pages

People as selves

Subjectivity, individuality, and social construction of identity

At the most fundamental level, the self is the cognitive apparatus that permits self-reflexive thought – the cognitive structures and associated processes that permit people to take themselves as an object of their own thought and to think consciously about themselves. People have a need for a distinct and consistent self-image and a need for self-esteem. 'Mana' is what enables the person to be effective, whether in battle or in everyday social interaction. People's social status, and successes and failures, are attributed to external forces, not internal states. In fact, mana is only one of these external forces that inhabit the individual. People living in such a culture would necessarily experience themselves quite differently from the way people in Western culture are used to. Specifically, individuals can cease to represent themselves as the centre and origin of their actions, a conception which has been taken to be vital to Western concepts of the self.