Robert C. Priddy

Writings on diverse themes from philosophy, psychology to literature and criticism

  • Robert Priddy

    In this blog I post information and critical views concerning ideologies, belief systems and related scientific materials etc. I am a retired philosophy lecturer and researcher, born 1936.

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Finding oneself – the coming-of-age con

Posted by robertpriddy on September 13, 2017

An article by writer and historian Cody Delistraty entitled ‘The coming.of-age con’ is posted on-line.

Its basic assumption is that the popular trope or meme about ‘finding oneself’ has no basis in reality as there is no fixed ‘self’.

I quote:- “Finding one’s true place in the world is a massive trope, not just in film and theatre, but also in literature, education and motivational seminars – any place where young people are involved. In all these cases, the search for the ‘self’ is dubious because it assumes that there is an enduring ‘self’ that lurks within and that can somehow be found. Whereas, in fact, the only ‘self’ we can be sure of is one that changes every second, our decisions and circumstances taking us in an infinite number of directions, moment by moment. And even if we think we have ‘found ourselves’, this is no panacea for the rest of our lives.”

Though this issue has been discussed in philosophy and psychology for an age, the findings have been sidelined in modern media and education. In popular culture, books like The Catcher in the Rye, and a long series of ‘find yourself’ novels, plays, films to instruction manuals. Particularly since the 1960s when the liberation of youth from worn out pre-war conventionalism led to a New Age philosophy,  ‘self-realisation’ and related concepts became ever more preponderant. The fascination with Eastern religious philosophies – due to mind-expanding substances . and practices led to many Western youth becoming ‘dharma bums’, wandering across the Indian subcontinent in search of the mirage of finding the core of identity, one’s ‘self’.

The philosopher Julian Baggini (‘’The Ego Trick: What Does It Mean To Be You?’ – Granta Books, 2011) has challenged traditional ‘common sense’ concept of personal identity in a most lucid and evidence based way. See

After a lifetime of studying the issue of selfhood both in theory and practice, and long adult sojourns in India, I arrived at the unshakeable conviction that the spiritual search for the True Self  is a miasma. (

See my views on (ego, identity, soul, self-realisation and related ideas or beliefs:

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