Identity (of medium latin identitas , abstraction to Latin idem same ') is the totality of the peculiarities that an entity , an object or an object mark and as individual distinguishable from others. In a similar sense, the term is also used for characterization of persons employed. The psychological and sociological focus is on which characteristics are considered essential in the self-image of individuals or groups . The legal identity determination follows the markers of modern civil societies relevant for inclusion and exclusion .
As a relation between two given quantities, identity means complete agreement. If two objects of the discourse universe are alike in all properties and are therefore indistinguishable, one speaks of qualitative identity; when the objects in question are in fact the same object, one speaks of numerical identity. In terms of expressions and concepts, especially in the philosophy of language and mathematics , identity stands for the same intention or extension . In the language of logic , identity is expressed by .
The identity of things and people already appeared problematic to the ancient philosophers. Heraclitus is ascribed the saying: “We step into the same river and yet not into the same, we are and we are not.” (“Everything flows” → Panta rhei ). The vast majority of cells in the human body , with the exception of nerve and heart muscle cells, have a significantly shorter lifespan than the entire organism; they divide, some die, others replace them in the tissue. In this way, cell layers of the mucous membrane and skin in particular quickly renew themselves.
In order to take into account that a change in physical characteristics does not necessarily mean a change in identity in living beings - the cat Eugen, for example, remains Eugen even if the neighboring cat bites off his ear - the following narrative is suitable for developing identity:
Since identity is based on distinction and distinction is a process that subdivides (“separates”) a whole, a body can only acquire identity as a whole. Therefore it becomes understandable why people develop their identity as certain people in an interplay of “belonging” and “differentiating”. After birth, a child only develops an identity in the course of the years to distinguish it from the mother.
The psychological identity of the human being does not represent any kind of clear essence or an unchangeable being. On the contrary: Identity as a psychological concept assumes that the person identifies with something . This includes taking on the characteristics of an existing group identity as one's own characteristics and at the same time developing one's own personal characteristics. In a certain sense, group identities serve as a necessary process for developing one's own personality, but they always remain an element of outside determination and ascription. For example, someone may not have voluntarily come out as “ lesbian ” or “ gay ” (see also men who have sex with men ), but is nevertheless sometimes (whether correctly or not) referred to as part of these groups by those around them. Even those who have migration experience will identify more strongly in different environments with their old homeland or with their current homeland, but will be more strongly identified by others with one or the other group (this is how a Turkish citizen who grew up in Germany and only speaks German, Considered a Turk by some Germans, but treated as a German in Turkey due to his language, his place of residence and his socialization ). The awareness of one's own identity does not always coincide with the identification through the environment (e.g. some descendants of Germans who come from Russia still see themselves as Germans, but are treated as foreigners in this country).
The psychological identity is determined on the one hand by group affiliations and social roles : the we. However, an identity cannot be based solely on this we . In numerous cultures and societies, identity also consists in the experience of uniqueness, in the self in which a person experiences himself as different.
Identity and self worth
For people, an unintentional loss of identity is a major psychological problem when important group affiliations (e.g. family , people or nation , region , religion , friends , informal group ) are lost. If the person can no longer identify or identify with these groups , they will be isolated physically and psychologically.
In feminism and other currents, however, breaking out of a fixed identity is also rated positively: Female identity is no longer perceived as an ideal, but as an externally determined collection of behavioral patterns, stereotypes and expectations. Masculinity and national identity appear similarly problematic. Identity as identification with a group is often the result of upbringing and external constraints; breaking out of the previous identity can be an act of emancipation . The aim of this emancipation is not isolation, but the solution of identities determined by others - here deliberately in the plural, because an individual always embodies several overlapping identities: e.g. B. as a man, as a European, as an intellectual etc.
In general, a person loses his identity if he changes or is influenced from the outside in such a way that essential criteria by which he is identified and identified, or if essential entities that carry out the identification, or essential criteria of identification are omitted changed (e.g. loss of citizenship).
Today's social identity values include, for example, a suitable job and a harmonious family : Without a professional connection, someone may be able to do an honorary position or temporarily only maintain leisure activities. Unemployment can be a major problem, especially for single people who derive their essential identity from their job . Those who do not have a family connection can integrate into a substitute family. Particularly for unemployed people who derive their identity authoritative about her family, can the family among but be a big problem. In crisis situations, the psycho-hygienic / therapeutic stabilization of an identity can help.
George Herbert Mead
George Herbert Mead takes the view that mind (MIND) and identity (SELF) only develop out of social interaction situations through language: “Identity develops; it does not initially exist at birth, but arises within the social process of experience and activity, that is, in the respective individual as a result of his or her relationships with this process as a whole and with other individuals within this process own physiological appearance not directly related, although Mead admits that appearance is of decisive importance for the formation of identity.
In his view, human identity is divided into two parts, the “impulsive I” (I) and the “reflected I” (ME). Past experiences and memories are sorted and stored within the identity area of the I, result in a part of the identity that can be objectified, i.e. viewed by the individual himself. This area is viewed by the I, the subjective area of identity. Thus, a person's identity consists of an object and a subject who is able to look at that object.
The ego triggers reactions of the individual towards a certain person, group of people or situation that cannot be foreseen, not even by the agent himself. In retrospect, this action again passes into the realm of the I, as memories and experiences.
However, not all experiences go permanently into memories and thus into the I of identity, but only those that are relevant to the individual. These memories are organized on the “string of identity”, the temporal classification of memories in the life of the individual.
The I embodies "[...] the organized group of attitudes of others that one adopts", while the I can be seen as the "[...] reaction of the organism to the attitudes of others [...]", which in the memory becomes the I , in contrast to this but embodies freedom and initiative . New memories develop through the I; the I consists of these previous memories, so it is generated by the I.
This overall identity is individual, since every person has their own experiences: “The fact that every identity is formed through or with regard to the social process and is its individual expression - or rather the expression of the organized behavior that is typical for it their respective structures - is very easily reconciled with the fact that each individual identity has its own specific individuality, its own unique characteristics, because within this process, each individual identity, while mirroring its organized behavioral structures, has its own and unique position forms within it and thus in its organized structure reflects another aspect of this entire social behavior pattern than that which is reflected in the organized structure of any other identity within this process […] ”.
The formation of an (individual) identity is therefore largely dependent on the social interactions of the individual individuals with other people. This happens through language and other means of communication such as gestures and facial expressions.
However, a developed identity can create its own social experiences if social experiences with other people are no longer possible. According to Mead, the actions of the individual are planned in reflexive intelligence in order to stay within social processes. Here the psychological part of identity becomes clear, the possibility of people to put themselves in the role of their counterpart and to see themselves and their own behavior through language as an object and to process them reflexively.
The thinking is preparing these social actions except linguistically before it is used for the transmission of non-been said, the facial expressions and gestures, ie such information that is not pronounced, but still a meaning in the interaction process are: "One reconsiders writes something, maybe a book about it , but it is still a part of social intercourse in which you address other people and yourself at the same time and control speech to other people through reactions to your own gesture. "
Identity now occurs in this behavior. However, the interaction partner is only ever presented with a section of the overall identity; the core identity is split into various partial identities. The social process in which the individual finds himself is responsible for the occurrence of a certain partial identity. Partial identities are tied to special situations. According to Mead, these different elementary identities together constitute or organize the complete identity of a person.
Mead sees the human presence of self-confidence , which differs from normal human consciousness , as a prerequisite for the development of identity . He understands consciousness to be the feeling of feelings such as pain or joy, which is initially not related to identity itself. Self-confidence then assigns this feeling to its own organism, so that it is assigned to its own identity, the pain of its own identity. Mead equates self-confidence with an identity-consciousness through which the individual becomes aware of their own identity, i.e. with the concept of the I clarified above when dealing with the I.
I-identity according to Erikson and Habermas
Erik Erikson defines ego identity as "the increase in personality maturity that the individual must have drawn from the wealth of childhood experiences at the end of adolescence in order to be prepared for the tasks of adult life." Thus, ego identity is "a social function of the ego" , which consists in “integrating the psychosexual and psychosocial aspects of a certain development stage and at the same time establishing the connection between the newly acquired elements of identity and the existing ones”.
It is about the feeling of an inner self-equality, a knowledge of one's own uniqueness and its affirmation or, to put it with Erving Goffman following Erikson, “the subjective feeling of one's own situation and one's own continuity and individuality, that an individual gradually acquires as a result of his various social experiences. "
Jürgen Habermas draws on this understanding of I-identity in his essay Moral Development and I-Identity .
Development of the ego according to Loevinger
The American developmental psychologist Jane Loevinger Weissman has developed a fundamental developmental theory for the formation of one's own identity. It is based on a structural framework for the formation of personal patterns of meaning (“frameworks of meaning”) in nine stages that can be passed through or mastered during development. Each stage results in a new experience and understanding of identity, which enables greater flexibility and degrees of freedom in action and behavior.
Patchwork of identities according to Heiner Keupp
Keupp's interdisciplinary approach sees late-modern identity as an inconclusive process of “everyday identity work”, which represents an “inconclusive work on the patchwork” of partial identities. It is about a "sometimes contradicting, mostly ambivalent coexistence of the incompatible". The following are seen as the most important building blocks of everyday identity work: "Coherence, recognition, authenticity, ability to act, resources and narration". Late modernity offered more options for an individual lifestyle, but at the same time also offered the "compulsion to assert oneself".
Political and sociological concepts of identity
Identity politics are used both by dominant groups to maintain and by dominated groups to change the status quo .
- The identity politics of dominant groups are ideas about the shaping of social and state relationships that oblige the subjects to realize a norm that is supposedly inherent in their nature. As standards in this context, for. For example, the following apply: being a woman, being German, being white, etc. This fixation on something constructed that is essential, the “ ontologization ” of certain properties of social origin, ultimately leads to exclusionary world views and modes of action for critics .
- In contrast, the identity politics of the dominated groups try to find a “ we-feeling ” in order to develop and enforce emancipatory demands. In the dominated groups it is about representing themselves and countering the externally imposed attributions with a self-definition. This may include a policy of separation (e.g. autonomous feminists). One concept of identity politics is positive discrimination or affirmative action . Identity politics in this sense not only demands recognition for the dominated groups, but also educational access , social mobility etc. The standpoint theory is also based on identity politics, as it claims that gaining knowledge is socially situated, that the dominated group is a better place to gain or produce knowledge. Dominated groups often understand their identity politics as a temporary necessary stage in order to achieve the elimination of differences in a dialectical process (e.g. classless society ).
Analyzes of and criticism of identity-political concepts were developed by very different social critics, such as the theorists of critical theory such as Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer , the post-structuralists such as Jacques Derrida , Michel Foucault ( see discourse analysis ), Jacques Lacan and Zygmunt Bauman , von the theorists of postcolonialism such as B. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and critical micropolitics such. B. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari or Ralf Krause and Marc Rölli as well as the theorists of gender studies such as Judith Butler . See also ethnicization .
The concept of identity according to Lothar Krappmann
According to the sociologist Lothar Krappmann , identity is conveyed through language . For him, identity emerges anew through the communication of an individual with his fellow human beings in every situation. As a result, identity is not fixed, but changes again and again from situation to situation. If two interlocutors meet, they exchange intentions, wishes and needs through language and with the help of gestures or facial expressions. This happens through what he calls “colloquial language” ( Sociological Dimension of Identity, 1993, p. 13), which essentially has to fulfill three functions in the interaction process in order to make identity possible.
- On the one hand, this language must be able to translate the special expectations that several interaction partners have in a special situation:
- "[...] it has to prove itself insofar as it keeps the inevitable loss of information when presenting individual experiences in a general, since common system of meaning as low as possible." ( Sociological Dimensions of Identity, 1993, p. 12)
- On the other hand, it must be possible to find solutions to problems with the help of this colloquial language, so it must have a differentiated conceptual apparatus that makes this possible.
- In addition, there is the necessary function of being able to pass on excess information: “[...] 'Excess' is the information insofar as it not only provides a response to a previous statement, but the speaker uses verbal or extra-verbal means to indicate his particular attitude to the content of the message . Only through this closer qualification of the message does the meaning of a statement for the intercommunication context become visible; for now it not only conveys a 'stage direction' external to the context of the action itself through the manifest content, but implicitly defines the character of the social relationship within which it is located (cf. Watzlawick et al. 1967) ”( Sociological Dimensions of Identity , 1993, P. 13).
If language fulfills these three functions, a new identity is created in an interaction process in every situation. In this process, the individual has the task of performing a balancing act between the standardized expectations for a perfect identity as a daughter, friend, mother, etc. and the realization that these demands cannot be met. These expectations of the individual represent the expectations of the outside world of social identity.
External expectations of personal identity are those expectations that expect an individual, unique identity of the individual, whereby it must be taken into account that holding on to commonalities is necessary in order to maintain the interaction.
In both cases, due to the impossibility to meet expectations, the communication partners act on an “as if” level, they pretend to meet these expectations without being able to meet them. The individual tries to present himself / herself in his or her special individuality, in which he / she has his / her own needs, ideas and wishes, and to convey these to the other person by linking previous, other interactive participations with the expectations of the current situation.
However, the person must make sure to stay within the framework of the possible presentation of himself set by the communication partner in order to be accepted in his personal particularity. To this end, the individual is offered models and roles in accordance with the expectations of the interlocutor via language, which, however, cannot fully correspond.
Assuming a successful identity formation, the individual arranges the experiences made with various interlocutors into a biography which is as consistent as possible, which creates more consistent action orientations for him. An identity develops that is different from that of other people. The formation of an individual identity is consequently the result of many interaction processes that have been linked to one another and thus convey a more consistent image of identity than the individual events of communication that stand independently next to one another.
The image of one's own identity, also known as self-image , that the person has acquired with this performance, he now tries to maintain in the interaction situations that arise. This corresponds to his own expectations and needs, which accordingly arose from the communication and the ideas of the various interaction partners. The individual always recombines the processed previous communication situations with the expectations arising in the current situation and puts himself at a distance from the whole.
The concept of identity according to Hans-Peter Frey and Karl Haußer
Hans-Peter Frey and Karl Haußer describe identity as a self-reflective process of the individual. Accordingly, a person creates identity about himself by processing different types of experiences , such as internal, external, current and stored ones, about himself. "Identity arises from situational experience, which is processed and generalized supra-situationally." ( Identity, 1987, p. 21).
The cognitive component of human identity is self-concept. The individual creates a self-image of himself based on the questions: Who / What / How am I? There are various ways of doing this. On the one hand, objective characteristics can be ascertained by the individual, for example, stating: “I am quite small.” As a self-assessment, the individual could express that he is annoyed by it. Self-esteem is how someone feels proud or angry with themselves. People set their own ideals, for example by being the perfect son. The emotional component of identity is self-esteem, which develops, stabilizes and changes. This happens through the condensation of situational self-esteem or self-perceptions and through the evaluation of individual aspects of the self-concept. Developments and changes take place here through the influence of the conviction of control.
There are two different attitudes of individuals with the motivational component or control conviction: on the one hand, the generalized attitude of people to be able to shape their own situations, on the other hand, the attitude of being at the mercy of their own situation.
The interaction of the three components creates an identity dynamic that is the individual's own contribution.
Identity dynamics have four problems or services that humans have to provide in order to develop an identity.
- The problem of reality or the achievement of reality has the relationship between the inside and outside perspective as its object. This can be divided into four levels. First, the individual perceives the outside world; the outside perspective becomes an inside perspective. In a development process, the individual then utilizes this information by forgetting , selecting , comparing , remembering , etc. This is followed by the presentation of the individual to the outside world. However, this is not a copy of the outside, as the information has now been processed. "The circle closes with the gradual infiltration of individual innovations into the socio-cultural order." ( Identity, 1987, p. 18).
- The consistency problem or consistency performance consists in the relation of different elements of the inner perspective; the individual asks himself how he can still be the same person despite different representations of identity in different situations.
- The continuity problem, the continuity performance, contains the same question, but related to developments and changes over time.
- The problem of individuality ultimately confronts the individual with the problem of developing a unique, individual identity that differs from that of other people.
The successful identity has u. a. with the result that it makes further educational efforts by the educators unnecessary. In addition, the former child has developed his own psychodynamics , which on the one hand enables him to influence and shape social processes himself and independently - in the sense of his identity - and on the other hand to expose himself to certain influences in order to create individual dynamics to modify.
Identity is therefore - neither in educational processes nor in social activities - not a static quantity, as the term might suggest, but a dynamic whole that is constantly subject to change, which can also be called a strength of human development. According to the American anthropologist Michael Tomasello ( Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology , Leipzig), we-identity is at the same time a human achievement that no animal has ( Die Zeit 16/2009, p. 33). Being able to pursue a project together by communicating with one another in a targeted manner and subordinating one's own interests to being able to pass on the knowledge acquired through this to other individuals is an achievement of human development.
Philosophy of mind
In the debate about personal identity, which is closely related to the philosophical question about the human spirit ( philosophy of spirit ), the question of what constitutes our identity is dealt with. This question is difficult because in the most abstract sense it concerns a deeper question of identity in general (in mathematics and logic). The central problem of the debate, which was largely shaped by Derek Parfit and Sydney Shoemaker , is: How do we actually determine our identity? - In our memory? Our consciousness? - Something social or simply our biology?
- Personal Identity. Entry in Edward N. Zalta (Ed.): Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy .
- Personal Identity and Ethics. Entry in Edward N. Zalta (Ed.): Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy .
The secret identity (also cover identity ) is a means which is mainly used in the literature. The pseudonym of a writer is also used to keep his true identity secret. Secret identity is understood to be an identity that may or should not be disclosed to the general public. She is a v. a. A common element in superhero comics and makes up an important part of the comic figure , with a mostly conspicuous, striking costume and mask protecting the secret identity. The costume is often designed very conspicuously and with a chest symbol, e.g. B. a stylized letter or a pictogram , provided to distract from the true identity. Superheroes usually adopt a secret identity to protect their privacy and the lives of their family and friends from acts of revenge on the part of their enemies .
A natural person can be identified by assigning them to one or more elements of their physical, physiological, psychological, economic, cultural or social identity (Art. 2 letter a of ). Your identity can be formally determined by a legally binding identity check. The unlawful misuse of the data of a strange natural person is known as identity theft .
A person's identity can be verified by comparing biometric features with a previously recorded state (e.g. in an official photo ID). This check can be carried out as part of an identity determination (e.g. in Germany according to (1) StPO) or a person identification procedure . Furthermore, the comparison of DNA , photos (e.g. pictures of the perpetrator ), biometrics , fingerprints, etc. a. can be used for identification.
Identity as a formal property and relation
The important question is how far one can speak of “identity” in the case of things : which things are identical, which are not? Problems arise here when one tries to bring everyday language usage into a formal language without checking. In everyday life you will hardly say: "This tree there is no longer the same tree as it was" just because it has lost some leaves; or "This person is no longer the same" just because their hair was cut. When one speaks of a thing remaining the same, of a change of a thing or even of the emergence of a new thing, is not fixed in everyday language; the boundaries are fluid.
“If all the planks in this ship are gradually replaced by new ones, then it has remained numerically the same ship; but if someone had kept the removed old planks and finally put them all back together again in the same direction and built a ship out of them, this ship would undoubtedly also be numerically the same ship as the original. We would then have two numerically identical ships, which is absurd. "
This paradox arises if, when we replace the individual planks, we do not assume that the ship has changed significantly: it still seems to be the same to us. So if many small changes are made one after the other that are individually small, a paradoxical result seems to follow. Apparently the everyday idiom of identity cannot be easily adopted. A variety of answers have been proposed to problems of this kind. In recent years, for example, there has been a debate about whether objects consist of time slices or whether object identity over time can be conclusively explained in the context of three- or four-dimensional ontologies (such as those developed and defended by Ted Sider ).
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz provides a classic thesis on identity : His principle on the identity of the indistinguishable ( Leibniz law ) can be formulated as follows: "Two things are identical if they are indistinguishable in all their properties." Leibniz assumed , as a rationalist , that there are no really numerically different objects that are identical in all characteristics. However, the aforementioned principle also includes features that we cannot distinguish using our sense organs. It is debatable whether Leibniz also considers relational properties (relationships between objects), in particular the position in space and time, to be relevant here.
Numerous classics of metaphysics, following Aristotle 's example, would argue that only those properties are constitutive for the identity of an object that are necessary for it (essential properties instead of accidents). Whether this is helpful and how this can be precisely reconstructed is the subject of current debates. These gained in clarity and complexity since problems of possibility and necessity ( modality ) can be reformulated within the framework of ontological models of possible worlds. For example, the identity of objects across possible worlds is controversial.
Whether only one thing can exist in the same place at the same time is judged differently, depending on further ontological pieces of theory, such as the analysis of part-whole relationships (so-called mereology ).
Further suggestions in this context concern, for example, the distinction between numerical identity and type identity: two things can be of the same type although they are numerically different.
The debates about the identity of the perceiving subject over time are even more complex (see above section on personal identity).
How identity statements that equate one or more terms with another are to be interpreted is explained differently in different logical and semantic models. A distinction is often made between intension and extension ( scope of the term, the set of objects referred to) and the latter, in the sense of Frege, is equated with the truth value of a sentence. A simple suggestion (from Leibniz, for example) is that terms are identical (identitatis notionum) if they can be exchanged while maintaining their truth value.
Mauthner criticizes the concept of identity as either completely tautological , ie "... so empty that outside of logic it would have to arouse suspicion of nonsense", or as falsification or fraud, since it ignores or withholds existing differences. "In reality there is no equality ..."
In analytic philosophy , too , the concept of identity as a relationship has occasionally been criticized. For example Wittgenstein ( Tractatus 5.5301) says: “It makes sense that identity is not a relation between objects.” He explains this under 5.5303 with the words: “To say of two things that they are identical is nonsense, and To say of someone that it is identical to itself says nothing. ” Russell had already formulated similarly in the Principles of Mathematics (1903):“ [I] dentity, an objector may urge, cannot be anything at all: two terms plainly are not identical, and one term cannot be, for what is it identical with? ”(§ 64), and also in Frege there are related considerations:“ Equality provokes reflection through questions that are linked to it and are not very easy to answer. Is it a relationship? ”( On Sense and Meaning , p. 25). More recently, C. J. F. Williams has suggested that identity be viewed as a second-order relationship rather than a relationship between objects, and Kai Wehmeier has argued that an objective identity relation is logically redundant and questionable from a metaphysical perspective.
- Equations between arithmetic expressions
If A 1 and A 2 are arithmetic expressions, the sequence of characters A 1 = A 2 is called an equation. An equation A 1 = A 2 is called generally valid or also identity if and only if the following applies to every assignment φ :
Note: The "=" sign has two different meanings in this definition, on the one hand as a syntactic sign between the expressions A 1 and A 2 and on the other hand as a designation of equality in .
In this remark on identity, we restrict ourselves to an interpretation of arithmetic expressions over the field of real numbers . The interpretation of the arithmetic expressions takes place through a clear mapping, value, which, depending on an assignment, maps certain arithmetic expressions into the set of real numbers. The image of such an expression A (i.e. the number assigned to it) is called the value of A in the assignment , denoted by .
If an ordinary equal sign indicates that equality exists under certain conditions (in the definition framework), an extended equal sign with three horizontal bars ("≡") is used to identify two expressions. Here, too, identity means the unequivocal correspondence between two entities.
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