I hope you have been doing some reflecting on my post The Triune Self. What is at issue is that there seem to be some basic truths about ourselves that divide into three types correspondent to three independent propositions:
I am like everyone else.
I am like no one else.
I am like some people and unlike others.
All of these are true about a human person, or so it seems to me, and the trick is to figure out how each of those are true about anyone in particular (you, for instance.) I also think we should guard against any conception of ourselves that loses the scent of any one of these truths about personhood. (Note that I am now using the word “person” to capture some of this manifold richness that I fear is lost when we talk about “self” or “soul” or “individual.”)
I want to highlight some peculiarities of #2, this sense of being individually distinct from others. Here are a few:
1. It would seem that my peculiar individuality should be incommunicable. For communication requires commonality so that, to the extent I can communicate, I can only be expressing one of the other two “parts” of our personhood listed above.
2. Heidegger’s notion that no one can die in my place, that my being-toward-death is not transferable to another fits this regime.
3. I find it weird that one of the universal things about each of us is the fact that we are unique individuals. The “fact” of individuated existence is a universal, and yet its (what?) “substance” is neither universal nor particular.
4. Individually, we are concerned with our universal and cultural qualities. But the concern itself seems somewhat individual.
I think a lot of what we take as our individual uniqueness are really culturally mediate forms in which I am still like others. The emphasis is simply place on the way I am *unlike* others, which I might call my “personal way of being,” for instance.
5. My “private” interiority is still mediated by my culture’s language and is thus still bound up with the common. Perhaps there are ineffable ways of encountering this kind of irreducible privacy that do not require linguistic mediation, such as meditative contemplation, but how can I express it even to myself without the mediation of signs?
6. To the extent we are unique individuals, no other mortal person can really instruct us in this regime. And I wonder to what extent I have just violated this stricture…