Ownership and Sense of Self

Ownership can be viewed in many different ways. Some think of ownership as a bad thing, while others think of it as a good thing. Before someone can establish their beliefs on what is good and bad, the true meaning of what they are being ased must be understood. This controversial question of whether ownership is positive or negative brings up a much more important question, “What does it mean to own something?”. Ownership is defined as to have possession of something. I believe ownership and sense of self are integrated together. I think they go hand in hand with each other merely because one can own more than just a physical object, but as well as ideas, thoughts, skills, and knowledge.

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Just as the famous twentieth-century philosopher, Jean-Paul Sarte, I too believe that ownership extends much farther than tangible objects, but to intangible things as well. Such intangible things include, thoughts and ideas. Only you can think of an original idea or thought. Nobody can put it into your head. No one can hear your thoughts besides yourself, which make them yours. This sense of ownership extends physical objects, and involves self ownership. One’s self ownership also gives a sense of identity. The thoughts and ideas one “owns”, defines them and is their sense of self. Not only does the ownership of thoughts and ideas provide one with a sense of their self, but as well as skills or knowledge one may obtain. Sarte believed that when one becomes proficient in a skill or knows something thoroughly, it means that they “own” that skill or knowledge. An experience I have faced that helps me to support and believe in this idea, is when I joined the volleyball team at my high school. I spent the entire summer practicing volleyball at open gym, improving my skills and preparing for tryouts that were soon to come. When tryouts finally arrived I was no longer nervous and I trusted myself to do well. This was because I had become much more knowledgeable about the sport and I “owned” the level of skill I had worked for and needed to make it onto the team. I realized that I was no longer trying to become a volleyball player, but I was one. The skill I have to play volleyball often defines me, whether someone is asking about myself or sees me in uniform. The skills and knowledge you obtain become your identity, and this is another example of how the relationship between ownership and sense of self are so intertwined.

I believe ownership of tangible items also determines one’s sense of self. Some argue that ownership of tangible items are bad, while others believe they are good. Whether someone views it as being good or bad, it is still true. In today’s society, image is everything. Social classes are based on how much you own and identity is based on image. I don’t completely agree with the argument made by Plato, stating that owning objects is detrimental to a person’s character, because at the end of the day objects can be taken away. I think that owning objects can only become detrimental to a person’s character if one becomes more interested in what others think and try to keep up an image more than their own personal character. I think people can get caught up in an image and become materialistic and selfish, this exposes what type of person one is, providing insight to one’s sense of self.

On the other hand, owning tangible objects could also help to develop moral character, as Aristotle had said. I immediately supported this idea as I looked down and saw the bracelet I wear on my right wrist everyday. This bracelet is called a kara. I have owned a kara all of my life, and it serves a religious purpose to identify myself as a Sikh. This tangible object has helped me as a constant reminder for my morals, discipline, and religious faith. It is the tangible objects like my kara that help to develop moral character. My kara is an identification piece that shows everyone what religion I follow, which displays how tangible items identify ourselves.

The relationship between ownership and sense of self is a very close one. I believe that both the tangible and intangible things in life define ourselves. I feel that people go to things such as tangible objects and intangible things such as thoughts, ideas, skills, and knowledge to not only identify themselves, but “own” themselves and their identities.

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