Sense of Self

Greetings pilots,

A concept ubiquitous across almost all human civilizations is the notion of one’s individual sense of self. That is, one’s ability to perceive a collection of traits, beliefs, abilities, and other characteristics that they consider to define the essence of who they are as an individual. Such characteristics are not necessarily expected to be uniform or consistent across all peoples within a society, but instead offer a degree of expression of an identity specific to each particular individual.

Different societies across New Eden vary to the degree that they allow one’s sense of individual self to vary from the accepted norms of their wider community. The Gallente Federation, for example, largely prides itself upon its purported recognition of individuality and autonomy amongst its citizens, with relatively few binding requirements for one’s participation within wider Federal society. Other nations, by contrast, hold generally more restrictive views over the degree to which an individual may explore and express a sense of individual self. Caldari society, for example, typically frowns upon expressions of individual self that jeopardise one’s harmony with and obligations towards their corporation or family. Within Holy Amarr’s vast Scriptural canon, meanwhile, the Code of Demeanour is regularly held as an essential warning to all imperial subjects of the dangers of individual thought, as all sin is understood to necessarily take root within its exercise. Even within Amarrian culture, however, free thought is not strictly prohibited - I would not be considered to be sinful were I to state that my favourite colour combination is that of white and sky-blue, as opposed to any other combination. That sin originates from free thought does not necessarily indicate that all free thought is intrinsically sinful. Indeed, save for Sansha’s Nation, no collective entity within New Eden takes stances that completely eliminate one’s ability to hold a sense of self.

With that said, I am interested in understanding what senses of self posters on the Intergalactic Summit possess. Do posters here perceive any traits or beliefs that they consider to define their sense of individual identity to the degree that the loss or abandonment of those beliefs would leave themselves being no longer recognisable as themselves? Or, by contrast, do posters here consider their sense of self to be defined merely by a sense of linear continuity in their own consciousness - malleable such that they could take any particular form and yet still be identifiably ‘them’ so long as their continuity of consciousness was not broken in the process?

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on your own sense of self, if any of you would be willing to share.


There’s an old story that back in the days of the Rouvenor Kings one of the Ensinate nobles decided to live his life naked in a wooden tub in the market place. Of course no one knows if the guy was actually a noble or if he was just pulling people’s legs because he’d give a lot of names and never which family he belonged to.

He called himself a philosopher and maybe he was one. There was the time some other philosopher guy when asked, “What is a human being?” Responded with, “A featherless biped.” So marketplace vagrant guy barged into one of that philosopher’s lectures with a plucked chicken and said, “Here’s your human - a featherless biped.”

Maybe that was smart, I don’t know, but it is pretty amusing.

Anyway what little was written down of the guy’s lectures in the marketplace – or perhaps mad ravings – by enamoured students has always amused me. At least insofar as they require a cynical assessment of society and realizing a lot of the conditioning necessary to live among people amounts to a whole lot of crap so you might as well live naked in a market place.

That and life is a lot less stressful when you don’t bother worrying about questions that should not have to be asked.

So that’s why I decided to become a capsuleer because it’s about the closest I can get to being a wandering hobo without the angst of existential dread. I even get to be naked in my own hydrostatic tub.

I’m not sure if that’s enough to hang an identity on, but hey it works for me.

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What a neat topic.

So … “sense of self” is something I don’t think I really had much when I dropped out of a cloning lab tube with full knowledge of what I’d just been decanted from but not knowing my own name. I was there; I knew where I was; but who…?

The next few hours and days helped clarify that last bit a little. At first I was held at the cloning bay under armed guard. (I got tea at least.) There’d been some kind of mistake or attack. I wasn’t right. I was broken, not whoever I was supposed to be. And for a while it seemed like I was probably going to just get shot right there and die without even knowing, really, who I was.

Eventually it started to look like fixing the mistake wasn’t going to be as simple as just shooting me, reprocessing the biomass, and trying again. I was escorted to quarters under armed guard and confined there.

To that point, nobody’d even explained to me whose identity all of this fuss was about; I just knew I was an aberration. Nobody seemed to want to be the one to explain to the confused mistake who she was supposed to be and specifically how she wasn’t right and going to have to be busted down for spare parts and the process retried.

I guess also nobody wanted to be the one to explain the even-more-complicated matter of busting me down for parts not actually being doable because there wasn’t a better copy. I mean, I kind of knew, or could guess from context. I knew what the stuff around me was; I knew what it was for; I knew how it all worked.

I just didn’t … have any real understanding of who exactly was supposed to live in my head. And that was the problem exactly.

For a while I didn’t do much. I was imprisoned, and scared, and probably going to die. But I couldn’t just stay like that forever.

So, eventually, tinkering around with the resources in quarters I found the IGS. Through that, I learned who I was.

I think this forum will always be a special place to me for that reason. (Even if the answer was dreadful.)

This was all a while back. It used to be I could introduce myself as the world’s most ridiculously well-educated three-month-old (for, you know, that specific month). There wasn’t much I knew of myself; the person I’d been, before, I’d rejected in disgust.

(Pirate. Kinslayer. False teacher. I wonder now if part of the reason nobody explained much to me in my first hours was the difficulty of telling an innocent she’s anything but.)

But without her, what was I? I knew only a few things about myself.

I’m Achura, by training, faith, and Mother’s blood. I’m a seeker-- I look for the truths of this world and I try not to add to the illusions. The world is a labyrinth of sacred mysteries. Curiosity is a virtue, exploration, worship.

I prize integrity, especially my own. I will keep my word, once given.

I’m clever.

I’m capable of horrors, so I should be careful.

I dress in black.

I’m eight, now. A lot’s passed. At the start, I was kind of an empty vessel, without remembered history, a leaf blowing around on the wind. I let myself get blown some bad places (even if I made a lot of good friends there). With time’s come experience, and weight. My sense of self has strengthened a lot. I know who I am and what I believe, and why.

I’m Achura by faith. The world is a labyrinth of sacred mysteries, fogged over with the misery of living things condemned to struggle in a world that was not made for them. Curiosity is a virtue; exploration, worship; compassion, both duty and pain.

I prize integrity, especially my own, but I’m capable of horrors, so I should be careful. I will keep my word, once given, regardless of who suffers for it. I take orders very well.

I’m clever. This is my sharpest tool but a burden, not so much heavy as treacherous and troublesome to carry. It plays at wisdom, but it’s a poor substitute at best.

I’m clever. I want to be wise.

I dress in black. It’s a reminder and a warning, to others and to myself: I can kill; I have killed; I enjoy the act of killing, the satisfaction, as long as there’s challenge. (Executions only stain me.) A sword doesn’t care who it cuts, but I’m trying not to just stain this world. In the right hand, maybe I can be a scalpel.

Would the person I was eight years ago reject the person I am now, as she rejected our predecessor? … Perhaps.

I’d like to think she would just find me puzzling. “How did I get here?” Steps and missteps, empty me. Steps and missteps. And baring witness. Turns out that’s a little heavy, too.


Self is an illusion; people only truly exist in relation to others and the world. You are not a singular thing, rather you are a node in a web, or a wave in a sea, responsible for your own actions but not making them in isolation.

In my heretic opinion, the ‘free’ thought your Scriptures warn you about should not be read as warning against thinking to your best ability but rather as thinking that you can exist in isolation, without care for others, without boundaries of tradition. Your priests teach that free thought – thinking that imagines itself free of circumstance – is the begetter of disorder. But so is pure thought – thinking that strives to one truth that holds regardless circumstance – the instigator of sin.

See yourself as part of family, clan, tribe, nation, universe; squad, corporation, alliance, and coalition. Seek truth in doing right in that web of connections. Seek multiple truths that apply to different parts of the web. Seek your place in it. Observe how the currents change as you swim the seas of life. Do not ask “who am I?” but instead ask “who do I relate to and how?”

Seek consensus, but draw boundaries. Talk until everyone understands, even if they do not agree in the end. That is ‘uniform thought’ that is the way of life, without being either pure or free.


I have an Identical Twin Sister who is Not the Same.

Clearly there is Some Difference between her and I, despite our Identicalness. What that Difference is, I am Unable to clearly Identify. Subatomic-scale Differences in our construction ? Differences in our Experiences and Perspectives ? I am Uncertain.

I do Not understand Philosophy or Language well enough to Convey my Thoughts Coherently.

It would be Disturbing if the Difference between my Sister and I was due to Subatomic-scale Manufacturing Tolerances, since that would Imply my Thoughts are Deterministic and that I have no Free Will. Without Free Will, there is no Righteousness or Unrighteousness, and I am simply a Machine, an Automaton, Inhuman.

As the Philosopher Said: “I Think, Therefore, I Am”.
But if I do not Really Think, what am I Really ?




I’m not the same Arrendis Culome who flew for EDENCOM at the beginning of the invasions. In fact, close to two dozen iterations of ‘me’ have awakened, lived, and died. Not one of them was the same person as the one before or after. They were just more or less indistinguishable, from the outside. From the inside… I mean, obviously I can’t speak from personal experience prior to the last six months-ish, but well, I’m alive, they’re not, so that’s a pretty big difference right there! And each of them got to say that, in turn.

But I’m also not who I was six months ago. I’ve had experiences, learned from them… failed to learn from them… made more mistakes in that time and failed to learn from those

Life is change. Hopefully, growth. Sometimes, decay. But always, it’s change. So how do you maintain a sense of self amidst all this change? In my case, I do it by building my sense of self around… what you might call the ‘greater me area’… like how a city has a ‘greater metropolitan area’. There are parts of my identity that are… my thoughts, my goals, my decisions in any given situation… things I’d do again, and why… things I’d change, and why…

There are parts of my identity that are how I relate to others… things that seem immutable but really aren’t, or seem ephemeral, but never were. That’s especially true as a capsuleer: the things that many people might have identified as essential bits of ‘me’… weren’t, and things many people never knew were far more central.

Then there are parts of me that are… complete fabrications, but so totally essential to my sense of self that I can’t really do without them. Abstractions and illusions… ideals and dreams. Contradictions, too.

In the end, my sense of ‘self’ itself is an illusory thing, a canard held up to fend off the yawning chasm of never-ending derivation that will, inevitably, leave me… not me. Either because I’ll change, so I’m not who I am now… or because I’ll die, and ‘me’ will be someone else. But either way, whoever that person is, they’ll be… me… to the people around me… them… er… you get the idea.

Maybe that’s the deeper truth: that ‘me’ is just the amalgam of everyone else’s experience of me.

Or, you know, maybe I’ve just got too much time on my hands these days.


I do not think of our Amarrian (or the Caldari) culture as restricting the sense of self - rather, I would say that it is experienced differently.

To my feeling, the Gallente en Minmatar put a large emphasis on personal independence and the development as an individual. While of course they identify also with their culture or tribe, still I would say the emphasis lies on the self, rather than the group (please forgive my broad generalization here).

I think that we, and also our friends from the State, have a much more interdependent view of the self. The self is defined by your share and role in the common. Rather than your very own accomplishments, what matters are the interpersonal relations and in particular the relation and harmony with the group. To me, that is the deeper meaning of the code of Demeanor, as you mention, in particular the verse “Be Respectful. Uniform Thought is the Way of Life.”

For our valued friends from the State, the corporation is this group. As for us, our common faith defines it. I would claim that cultures that have the “interdependent” view of the self rather than the “individualist” view of the self are better able to give a person the sense that their existence is meaningful. Provided, of course, that these persons fit in the group and are flexible enough to evolve with it - hence the stern warnings of the Code of Demeanor.

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It might easily look like this for a foreigner, because Minmatar culture puts a lot of emphasis on self-reliance and ‘independence’ and development of one’s particular strengths and skills.

But that self-reliance is not the same concept as individuality in the Gallentean sense, but rather the ability to ‘pull your weight’. While circumstances vary and anyone can fall sick or be injured, the ideal life for an adult member of a tribe involves giving more to your kin and circle than you take from them. The purpose of betterment of self is not individual gain, but the ability to support your own.


Thank you for the clarification - I must indeed humbly admit that my view is not informed by living among Minmatar. It is, as you say, the view of a foreigner. Perhaps it is colored by things like the voluval - and the highly individual mission it gives to the one who receives their personal sign? Also here, I must admit all I heard about this is second hand.

Perhaps the Minmatar still retain some part of the “interdependent” view of the self from Amarr culture, and I am wrong to place you in the “individualist-self” cultures. Indeed, I note that you were earlier in this thread a strong advocate of the interdependent view.

As I see it, members of the “individualist” types of culture would experience the “interdependentist” ones as restrictive and stifling, while the interdependents would view the individualists as rudderless and disconnected. These are sentiments that I read often in these threads, and one that follows the divides between the empires I stated earlier.

When you say the purpose of developing your self is to better help and support those around you, then I fully agree. The essence of the self is those around us. In this respect, I don’t think capsuleers are any different from baseliners.

I would say in the Federation there exists a certain kind of nihilism – we killed our gods and kings long ago and the derived moralities that came with them. The individualism that resulted is about finding your own path and answers to the big questions like, “Why are we here and what is the meaning of it all?” That is not given by a state or religion. How people find direction and purpose in their life is really up to them, whether it’s the excesses of hedonism or the strictures of traditionalism and everything else in between.

Or some give in to despair and remove themselves from the game of life.

That was the most insulting thing any Amarrian has said to me about my people since my commendable decision not to waste a clone to stabbing one of Lord Lok’ri’s staff on the spot over words spoken in ignorance.

We do not retain much from our days before the Darkness, but we do know we were a tribal people before your kind interfered. If anything we managed to retain that despite your attempts to break us up and scatter us to your Houses.

You think of being a free individual and being part of a group as opposites, because you have never known a culture where people are loyal to their kin out of choice, not because they are forced to on a pain of torture and death.

Loyalty, when not freely given, is worth nothing.


In many Idic traditions (they aren’t monolithic), the concept of self is seen as a hindrance to spiritual ascension through the process of rebirth. There is an inverse relationship between: (A) your emotional and material attachments to your current life; and (B) the clarity with which you will be able, in your next life, to consider the cycle of things and progress towards becoming Reborn.

Different traditions address the challenge of the self in different ways. Meditation is a common practice, asceticism also (although this can become a form of immoderate vanity). Some monasteries even offer technological assistance. Regardless of the approach, the goal is to help stop our self-obsession getting in the way of self-realization.


Ah, yes. I’ve had some solitary idle time over the last year, (more than I’d like, really, but that’s another track altogether,) took up meditation, and spent a lot of time on deep introspection. It’s a little disconcerting at first, to come to realize just how small the conscious mind is, stretched thin over a vast array of learned reflexes, primal instincts, and unconscious urges, and spending most of its energies desperately pretending to itself that it all makes perfect sense.

On the up side, now that the entire awful mess has been dragged into the sunlight, maybe something can be done with it.


Having distant Matari roots and growing up as a Thukker, I must wholeheartedly agree with Elsebeth.

In my mind, an individual is worthless without their community, and a community is broken without the strength of its individuals.

I was taught, and still deeply believe, that finding oneself is the act of finding your unique contributions to the caravan that houses you.


I think I’ve lost all sense long time ago.

I personally would echo some of what Sri Menkali has stated however I would add my own take the physical self is a distraction from the path too much connection to flesh is foolish as one may take a different form a different self.

The sense of self however does have some grounding as we are part of all things and they are in kind connected with us, with this understanding self can be in some sense the universe which is both much greater then oneself but also fully part of being. When reborn choose to return and guide others to enlightenment they must have some grounding knowledge as to what parts of the universe they can draw from to enter their next life.

I myself would suggest the fusing of oneself more deeply with the world around through augmentation, gene manipulation and body modification. As capsuleers we do have a unique position to gain understanding as to what it is to be one but to at the same time be at one with the universe.

This is a very neat topic!

While I don’t agree with Elsebeth’s idea that self is an illusion, I do believe that you can’t really separate yourself from the context in which you live. People are social creatures. It’s rare for one of us to live truly alone. I know a few examples, and they haven’t fared well, in general.

As for me, I was a tube kid. All Akahoshi are. The basic idea isn’t too dissimilar to what you’ll see in Deteis creches throughout the State, just in smaller numbers. When I was born, there were a little more than thirty of us. That number has been lower since then, but it’s up to 47 today. Which is nice, by the way. We’re a close-knit clade. Even for those of us who live apart from the rest, like me - and believe me when I say that’s something I feel everyday - we’re close. It might be something inherent in tube kids. The whole clade becomes your immediate family. It might simply be because there’s not many of us, and survival is a team sport.

Pretty much everything I’ve done since I received my pilot’s implants has been motivated a desire to help ensure my clade’s survival. By love. I wouldn’t recognize myself as myself if I abandoned that.


I’d like to believe I have a firm grasp on who I am, given I am me, and have the full picture of the thoughts that I make, but every one of these thoughts are driven by the bias that I am, in fact, me. I cannot trust these opinions not to be touched by the ego, or by a desire for them to be true.

Thankfully, we are not thought-boxes drifting in space. We are more like signal emitters, sending out an incalculable amount of information in all directions, at all times. The sum of our signals becomes our collective unconscious. A “we” to our “me”. Out of this immense sea of noise, one could pick up the echo of their own broadcast, and try to assess a “me” out of it. This, in theory, should be an unbiased approach to peering into the self, but alas, by the time the signal returns, interference has once again turned it into an approximation.

It is here I accept there is no such thing as a mirror for the soul. Perhaps because there is no such thing as a self to be found by looking for the one truth. I must accept that at best, I am a combination of my biased analysis of the signal I send, and an analysis of the signal’s distorted reflection.

I am hidden behind the haze of uncertainty, made up of equal parts truth and fabrication.

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Note: Philosophy; Sense of Self.
What are Time relevant protocols for? To measure your sense of self! You have to travel through Time differently than everyone else every day, That is your sense of self; Comparing your journey to others, who were forced to take a different path than you. You cannot be in the same place at the same time with another self.


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