The Human Condition–In Search of Self

… not selfishly–or not always selfishly, we are in search of our identity, the identity of our human condition.
– Malcolm Ross & John Stevens

The most profound discovery that we can make is our discovery of self. Our identity rests in the kind of people we are. To understand who we are and to develop fully as human beings, we must explore the nature of our humanness and the purpose of our lives. Who and what are we? What are the common human qualities and ideals we hold? What roles do other people (e.g., friends, family) play in our lives? What brings us joy, inspiration, and fulfillment? What doubts and fears do we have? By examining our lives and searching for answers to these and other questions, we can find meaning and fulfillment as human beings.

The life which is unexamined is not worth living.
– Plato

Identity and Sense of Self
Who and what are we?
Related Questions:

  • What makes us unique? Distinctive?
  • What does it mean to be a human being? What is our human nature?
  • Do we see ourselves the same way that others see us?
  • How do our values of self affect our lives?
  • How does being the member of a particular group affect our identity and sense of self?

Human Qualities and Ideals
What are the common human qualities and ideals we hold?
Related Questions:

  • Are there universal ideals for which we all strive?
  • How ought human beings behave? Is desirable behaviour the same in all cultures? In all communities?
  • What is right? What is admirable? What is not-so-admirable? Does everyone agree?
  • Why do our actions sometimes fall short of our ideals?
  • What is the darker side to human nature?

Human Relationships
What role do people (e.g., friends, family) play in our lives?
Related Questions:

  • How should we treat people?
  • What characteristics make people liked and respected? Is it good to strive to be liked? When might it be bad?
  • What is the meaning of love?
  • Can love be destructive? Do people sometimes confuse love with other feelings?
  • How do we get our needs met through our relationships with others?

Joy and Inspiration
What brings us joy and inspiration in life?
Related Questions:

  • What do optimistic and pessimistic mean? How do they apply to one’s view of life?
  • What is the “good life”? Is it the same for everyone?
  • What is a happy life? What is the meaning of happiness? Does happiness mean different things to different people? How might we achieve perfect happiness in life? How might we find personal fulfillment?
  • What inspires us?
  • Is happiness a reasonable pursuit?
  • What gives us reason to celebrate as individuals and as communities?

Doubt and Fear
What doubts and fears do we have?
Related Questions:

  • What special challenges do doubts and fears bring to an individual?
  • What are ways of overcoming doubts and fears?
  • How can having doubts and fears be an advantage?
  • How do people react to tragedy or loss in their lives?
  • Is it natural to feel anger and hatred sometimes?
  • What are people’s sources of strength?
  • How can strength and healing arise out of tragedy and loss?

Looking for more inspiring ideas? Try “Pillars of Character.”