Volume 8, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1569-2159
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9862
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Starting with Rene Descartes and Albrecht Dürer, Europeans obsessively contemplated, registered and expressed their being-in-the-world and assigned those self-expressions a universal cognitive value. Such generalized personal accounts as Cartesian cogito ergo sum or John Locke’s memory- based theory of personal identity formed the basis of sweeping statements about nations and epochs. For instance, the turn-of-the-century decadent deconstruction of subjectivity brought to life the myth of a smooth transition from the 19th century individuated (‘I’-based) Self to the 20th century shared (‘We’-based) Self. To correct this uninformative and factually inaccurate social description of personal identity, I suggest searching for social identities beyond the realm of self-reflection. In this light, a cursory survey of first-person statements found in books, journals and newspapers published in major European languages between the First and the Second World Wars, is subjected to various kinds of discursive analysis in the light of the chosen topic. As a result, a few politically and aesthetically privileged self-identifications of Europeans give way to a diverse social hierarchy, providing a possible strategy for linguistic description of social identity beyond the European terrain.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): European society; personal identity; personal pronouns; self-reference; social identity
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