It seems to me that the concept of personal identity - as a coherent whole - is a corner stone of Western culture. We build a LinkedIn/Facebook/etc. profile to sell a whole personality. We go to therapy to address our "core" being. There are so many examples of the direct or indirect reference to the concept of a "coherent personal identity". However, in a multicultural accelerationist society, this concept seems to lose its purpose. Is there any philosopher who could help address this situation and find a post-modern theory (or anti-theory) of identity?

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    Welcome to Philosophy SE. What's the rationale for the claim that coherent personal identity loses its purpose in a multicultural society? The online identity-based technologies you refer to are very successful in developed, multicultural nations. There may even be an argument that within heavily multicultural environments, the role of 'whole personality' identity becomes more and more necessary as a means of differentiating oneself from the diverse masses. I'm also unconvinced that many people go to therapy to address their "core being". Nov 26, 2021 at 4:57
  • Please elaborate more on what you think "the purpose of a personal identity" is.
    – Lucretius
    Nov 26, 2021 at 18:04
  • @Futilitarian I agree with you on the success of identity-based technologies in multicultural societies. However, I am more referring to the tension between the ceremonial and the technological (the duality comes from Thorstein Veblen). Technology is progressing faster than tradition, which causes tension and conflict between the two. I would suggest that this tension makes the emergence of a whole identity more difficult in a age of technological acceleration. This is, for exemple, a problem in contemporary christianity where the tradition of the church difficultly adapt to societal changes. Nov 28, 2021 at 1:49
  • @Lucretius I guess I refer more here to the Lockean concept of identity, where the "purpose of idendity" is to provide the basis for personal continuity and rational expectations - "It is because persons can think of themselves as persisting over time that they can, and do, plan ahead, with an eye toward the punishment or reward that may follow." (Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). It is this very influencial conception that I want to question, because I find it unbearable and contradictory (ex: contradictory with the creative aspect of existence) Nov 28, 2021 at 2:02
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    – J D
    Nov 29, 2021 at 17:22

1 Answer 1


I think Buddhism fits.

The conventional self is deconstructed, which includes things like how we want to appear socially. Awareness itself is recognised as universal and unifying, and manifesting in the present moment - when we drop obsessions with the past and future that shift our focus away from it.

When we develop skills to do those things (deconstruct, recognise what we have in common, return attention to the present), we can act for all beings, and in ways that make sense regardless of outcomes.

  • Do you have any contemporary author on this subject. I'm not familiar with buddhist philosophy and I want to find the pearls in the sea. Nov 28, 2021 at 1:50
  • Perhaps 'Buddhism without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening' by Stephen Batchelor goodreads.com/book/show/90557.Buddhism_without_Beliefs which gives a philosophical rather than religious take on the tools of Buddhist thought.
    – CriglCragl
    Nov 28, 2021 at 13:09
  • thank you for the recommandation, I'll look it up :) Nov 28, 2021 at 14:39

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