French philosopher, mathematician and generally acclaimed genius Rene Descartes (1596 – 1660) is most well-known for his attempt to clarify the nature of human identity. His tortuous self-doubt led him to systematically strip away anything he considered superfluous and in the end, he was left with one simple conclusion that has become his signature line –
“I think, therefore I am.”
Descartes equates identity with the mind. In short, our mind is our self. it is very tempting to believe this. Once we learn a language, it invades our mental world so completely that the constant self-talk we use to explain and rationalize and plan and worry seems as natural as the trees or the sunset. But we think with words because were taught to, not because it is some inherent human condition.
Identity – name, rank, social security number and personality – is constructed by language and temporary. The true search for human essence should be about existence or being. In summary, I think it would be very advisable if we shortened Descartes’ adage to “I am.”