Destroyer of Abstraction
The concept of self-schema is a perplexing proposition.
We contrive our own self-categorisations in our heads based on our personal perceptions and a posteriori justifications; we are the ones who stipulate our own schemas as individuals — starting from manifesting ourselves with certain generalisations, those generalisations would gradually become the corroborative personalities of ours. I personally agree with the epistemological idea of tabula rasa — a Latin phrase which translates as “blank slate” that was influenced by Aristotle’s treatise called De Anima — that we were born as a vacuous living being with no sense of knowledge at the very first time, and we acquire knowledges and perceptions through experiences that we undergo whilst we’re going through the paths of life. Perceptions are implemented, not something that we are born with. And the Stoic school of thought in the Ancient Greek philosophy explicates so; that we were born vacant and the outside world inculcates knowledges upon us. So basically what we are, as individuals, is just a recollection of things we come across — and then cultivate in our heads. What we summarise in our self-schema, all comes from the outside world. A relevant statement came from Diogenes Laërtius, written on his work that consists of collective biographies of Greek philosophers; Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers;
“Perception, again, is an impression produced on the mind, its name being appropriately borrowed from impressions on wax made by a seal; and perception they divide into, comprehensible and incomprehensible: Comprehensible, which they call the criterion of facts, and which is produced by a real object, and is, therefore, at the same time conformable to that object; Incomprehensible, which has no relation to any real object, or else, if it has any such relation, does not correspond to it, being but a vague and indistinct representation.”
Impressions, indistinct representations, we disseminate it all in our very own minds and construct it into what we call as a posteriori knowledge — the one that we learn from empirical evidences and personal experiences. Self-schema is made of perception, partially. Even though what might be our schema is something that we conclude on our own, but it still delineates our identity for we are entitled to define ourselves. The vision of identity is indeed, self-construal, as explained by Weinreich. We construe ourselves under a convergence between visions of what we were in the past and visions of what we aspire to be in the future — so even though the vision of identity is regarded as self-construal, it still harbours fragments of pellucid experiences of ours. Identity and schema are the reflection of self, in terms of cognitive psychology; self-awareness of one’s existence and persona avails one to construct their identity. Relating to the words of Immanuel Kant, man is distinguished above all animals by his self-consciousness, by which he is a ‘rational animal’. What trenchantly distinguishes human beings from creature is the self-consciousness that they possess — and how it interconnects to their ability to create their own schematic concept of self.
Common beliefs encourage us to define ourselves — but when we do, most of the time people excoriate us for defining ourselves as what they think we are not — whereas we are the ones who know best about our own deeds and traits. It just seems as if the common populace doesn’t actually believe in the existence of self-schema. Probably they do, when it oscillates around themselves. But when it comes to the people around them enacting identification of self, they would throw resentful disagreement over those people who believe in the force of self-schema. The way we put categorisations on ourselves, it is certainly based on what we have experiences in the past — and if people deem those categorisations fallacious, it would be because they haven’t seen and observed us thoroughly and that they only discern our mere surfaces.
Self-awareness takes part in creating self-schema too, which explicates that, we, too, have senses of consciousness about what we are. We don’t frivolously deem ourselves as what is far from what characteristics we have in everyday lives — and even if we do, it’s not like people are deliberately entitled to patronise anything about it for it isn’t something that they’re supposed to concern about. We are our own knights in shining armour. We have the authorisation to construct, deconstruct, and reconstruct our schemas, and that no one should be interfering about it. At least that’s what I percept.
By having self-awareness, we are the evaluators of ourselves — our own behaviors and perspectives. The study of self-awareness was first developed on 1972 by Duval and Wicklund; all human beings create their own standards and values and then evaluate their own significance and demeanours into those self-estimated standards. Self-awareness and self-evaluation may bring various impacts to the human emotions — for example, due to self-awareness of one, they might encounter mirthless emotions if they don’t fulfill the personal standards they have set on themselves.
Schematic inferences of human beings develop sustainably from birth, through life, affected by both internal and external factors, and all I get to say is that it’s mesmerising how the vastness of human cognition is able to develop schemas that define ourselves.