Studying Self-concept: A Philosophical Analysis


  • Alemayehu Teklemariam Assistnat Professor, Department of Special Needs Education


William James in Attwater (1990, p. 163) said, “Whenever two people meet,
there are really six people present. There is each person as he sees himself,
each person as the other person sees him, and each person as he really is."
Is it then at all possible to discover the person in each of us? Is this a myth
or a reality? To me and to a scientific realist, we have hidden ourselves in
the layers of our public, private and ideal selves that our unique essence, the
core of ourselves, a true but unobservable mind independent entities.
Adding to this, Gross (1992), believes that we have special relationship with
ourselves, which is invisible to others, unless we ourselves expose and
make it known, manifested. We are both subject and object. We are selfconscious or self-aware. In line with this, Gross (1992, p.607) mentioned, "...
The same person, the same self, is subject and object, knower and known,
thinker and thought about, seer and seen,” that can be empirically studied,
explained and understood. Antirealists oppose such rational thinking. They
believe only in objective reality and reject the T-terms, which will be
discussed latter in this article. The purpose of this article is to show that selfconcept can be explored scientifically, explained and understood. That is, I
am attempting to relate self- concept with scientific realism which
demonstrate the existence of change (development) and manifestation of
self-concept. Hence, in the paper an attempt has been made to discuss the
definition and elaboration of scientific realism, antirealism, self-concept, the
place of essentialism and some practical examples in relation to hard of
hearing children.