LECTURE: Martin Hoskin
Professor Martin Hoskin’s lecture takes us through the post modern foundations studies of the self and identity through five areas of focus: nature vs. nurture, discover of the unconscious, the archetypal self, the constructed self, and the digital self.
Nature vs. Nurture
We learn about the understandings and study of self and the influence of genetics and environment. Can nature change our identity? Or are we destined to become who we are regardless of our surroundings?
Discovery of the Unconscious
We are introduced to the studies of Nietzsche and Freud and the exploration of the conscious, unconscious, ego, super ego, and the id. We explore the crowd system versus the individual systems and the impacts upon self of each.
We learn about Jung and the Hero’s Journey as well as Campbell’s archetypes across time address how different personas embody different aspects of self or individuality and how the self is the culmination of the conscious, subconscious, and unconscious.
The Constructed Self
This section of the lecture introduces us to the aspect of influence as shown through the propagandist, Bernays and his impact on consumerism and appealing to human desires. Bernays using propaganda influence to persuade mass consumerism (ex. using doctors to persuade consumers that bacon & eggs is a “hearty, healthy breakfast”), geopolitical responses (ex. overthrowing a Guatemalan president in support of the fruit industry), and significant societal moray shifts (ex. breaking the taboo of women smoking in public to encourage greater consumption of tobacco products).
The Digital Self
Hoskin discusses how the sense of self has changed with the advent of modern technologies, the internet, and social media. How are the stories of self that we present to the outside world through technology and the internet different from the self we present to ourselves, our families, and the physical world? The “selfie” is now standard practice to record a memory of not only the experience, but an insertion of self into one’s record of memory.
RESEARCH: Modernity and Self Identity, A. Giddens
With full transparency, I offer up that the Giddens text was a bear for me to digest. Upon reading and re-reading (three attempts, actually), I grew ever more frustrated at how little I could take away. Frustration likely stemming from ego as I felt ignorant and inadequate in my inability to comprehend the words displayed before me on the screen.
So, what is a frustrated designer to do? Puzzle it out….
I went searching for translations of this text elsewhere through the library, the internet, and through other text on the subject of self. Here is what I found:
We are what we make of ourselves
Our past informs our future
Our reflexivity is continuous
We are writing our own stories
Time is ever present in self-actualization
The self extends to the body
The self is constantly evaluating opportunity and risk
In my pursuit of greater understanding, and sense of accomplishment of comprehension on this week’s research material, I came across a book by The School of Life called Self Knowledge.
The book explores six key areas:
Self-ignorance: our inability to fully know our self and the implications of denying the exploration into the understanding of the components that make up the self
Philosophical meditation: the practice of self-evaluation through addressing unanswered thoughts, feelings, and motivations
Emotional identity: the characteristics in which our desires and fears manifest themselves (self-love, candor, communication, trust)
Emotional inheritance: what aspect of genetics, upbringing and environment play in our sense of self?
Honesty and denial: how and why do we lie to ourselves across four major aspects of self: things we need to change, things that might disturb our self-image, things we want and cannot have, and things we are angry with others about
Self-judgement: how is our inner voice formed (nurture), what is the tone of our inner voice and how we can learn to change the tone of our inner voice to be a good friend.
Emotional skepticism: the emotional skeptic is one that can reconcile that the self is a product of genetics, our past and upbringing, our present and environment in addition to primal instincts.
We are a part of an evolutionary history (inheritance)
We are told stories (environment)
We are writing our own stories (experience)
We are primed to look at the world form our point of view (ego)
The self is interconnected to and influenced by the body (mind/body)
Summary: the School of Life text, Self-Knowledge was far more digestible and relatable than the Gidden’s text, yet came to very similar conclusions and both provided more to think about. The understanding of self is not resolute nor I believe finite.
Our understanding of self or lack thereof can play an important role in who we see ourselves as designers and creatives. The Self-knowledge text underscored the importance of self exploration and in doing so provides opportunity to positively and authentically inform our work and our relationships - with others and ourselves.
Giddens, Anthony. 1991. Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age Cambridge: Polity Press.
School of Life, 2017. Self-Knowledge. School of Life