Identity (philosophy)

Relation each thing bears to itself alone / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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In philosophy, identity (from Latin: identitas, "sameness") is the relation each thing bears only to itself.[1][2] The notion of identity gives rise to many philosophical problems, including the identity of indiscernibles (if x and y share all their properties, are they one and the same thing?), and questions about change and personal identity over time (what has to be the case for a person x at one time and a person y at a later time to be one and the same person?). It is important to distinguish between qualitative identity and numerical identity. For example, consider two children with identical bicycles engaged in a race while their mother is watching. The two children have the same bicycle in one sense (qualitative identity) and the same mother in another sense (numerical identity).[3] This article is mainly concerned with numerical identity, which is the stricter notion.

The philosophical concept of identity is distinct from the better-known notion of identity in use in psychology and the social sciences. The philosophical concept concerns a relation, specifically, a relation that x and y stand in if, and only if they are one and the same thing, or identical to each other (i.e. if, and only if x = y). The sociological notion of identity, by contrast, has to do with a person's self-conception, social presentation, and more generally, the aspects of a person that make them unique, or qualitatively different from others (e.g. cultural identity, gender identity, national identity, online identity, and processes of identity formation). Lately, identity has been conceptualized considering humans’ position within the ecological web of life.[4]