In one of those strange but typical cosmic coincidences, I've been reading a book that perfectly complements Who Are We?, called The Immortal in You: How Human Nature Is More Than Science Can Say. The former goes to our collective identity --- the We -- while the latter goes to the deepest source of our personal identity -- the I.
We all have an I, hopefully no more than one. But all I's also belong to a We. In fact, more than one We. For example, my We may refer to my marriage, my family, my occupation, my country, my species, my nonlocal brothers-under-the-pelt, and more.
There are any number of potential disturbances in our personal and collective identities. Some -- well, many -- people, for example, do not develop a stable identity, such that there is more than one center of subjectivity in the psyche. I call them Mind Parasites, because it is very much as if these yousurpers live off our own subjectivity in order to maintain themselves. They are like hungry (or greedy, or envious, or angry, etc.) ghosts made out of our own mindstuff.
Now that I think about it, there are also positive mind parasites, analogous to the healthy bacteria that live inside our gut. Indeed, some people even take parasite pills (probiotics) in order to cultivate these friendly invaders.
So there are propsychotics as well. Like what? I don't want to get completely sidetracked into developmental psychology and attachment theory, but human maturity is very much a function of internalization, and we mainly internalize what are called "object relations."
For example, assuming what is called "good enough mothering," the infant internalizes what amounts to Mom, such that he is gradually able to sooth himself without her actual presence, or by using symbols of her presence, which are called transitional objects (like a favorite stuffed animal, or, later in life, a cigarette or government program).
Professor Wiki has an adequate description of how Bion explains it:
Bion took for granted that the infant requires a mind to help it tolerate and organize experience. For Bion, thoughts exist prior to the development of an apparatus for thinking. The apparatus for thinking, the capacity to have thoughts "has to be called into existence to cope with thoughts." Thoughts exist prior to their realization. Thinking, the capacity to think the thoughts which already exist, develops through another mind providing alpha-function -- through the "container" role of maternal reverie.
As to "reverie," this is a term of art referring to "the capacity to sense (and make sense of) what is going on inside the infant," equivalent to maternal attunement and preoccupation.
Yesterday, for example, my son reminded me that his mother always knew what he was talking about when he was blabbering on in his own language, which we called Tristonian. To me he sounded like a stroke victim, but Mom was bilingual and able to understand what he was going on about.
There are other ways of looking at the same phenomenon. For example, Jung would say we come into the world with a maternal archetype that is like an "empty form" waiting to be actualized by experience. Think of it as a universal pre-conception. What we call "human nature" consists of various archetypes that are filled in by particular experiences that correspond to them.
For example, there is clearly a God archetype. If there weren't, then we wouldn't have this in-built readiness to experience him. God is in the particular experience, but the particular experience is not God -- similar to how I am in my big toe, but my big toe is not me.
We're getting too far afield. The point is, I Am not myself allone. Or rather, in order to be ourselves, we need help from others. There is always an I-We complementarity.
This apparently applies all the way up into the Godhead, where God too is an irreducible I-We complementarity. There are hints of this all through the Bible -- for example, "Let Us make make man in Our image, according to Our likeness." Even -- or especially -- in God, I and We coarise. There the relationship is of Father and Son instead of Mother and Child, but still.
Why Father instead of Mother? That is by no means a stupid or irrelevant question. In fact, I just read something about that. But where? Ah yes, here, in an appendix to Edward Feser's Five Proofs of God that asks Is God Male? No, not exactly. "Nevertheless, the traditional practice has been to characterize God in masculine terms." Yeah, but why?
"God's relationship to the world is much more like a paternal relationship than it is like a maternal relationship." For example, "there is no change to a father's physiology as a consequence of impregnation, whereas there is a radical change in the mother's physiology."
Analogously, God cranks out worlds with no apparent change to himself. Similarly, there is "a literal physiological connection between the child and its mother," but not between child and father.
One wonders how many NFL crybullies have no relationship with the children of their baby mamas, which will in turn help create the next generation of fatherless victims with daddy issues projected into police, "white privilege," and authority more generally.
I'm not sure what the title of the post means, but there it is.