If we never truly know ourselves until after the fact, then how could we be expected to ever know ourselves at all?
We aren’t able to recall many of our memories and much of the human brain is unused. There are so many interconnected factors that impact the essence of any being, such that it is wildly inaccurate to try to define them from a personal perspective.
This is only one aspect of sense of self and has no consideration for externalities or other people/things that impact who you are in a given lifetime. It does not consider the human spirit and many people that rely on hard facts find the idea of spiritual inter-connectedness silly.
Although I agree that memory is most of what makes up personality, the essence of life cannot be defined without arbitrarily-drawn boundaries and since those boundaries are a point of reference, perception is subjectively based on personal experience.
I know that there is a metaphysical basis to understand these things, but that understanding is an inherent impossibility. As human beings, we will never have the scope of understanding to fully define the essence of any creature, especially ourselves.
Human personality is nothing like the essence of a greater being. I don’t agree with the assertion that existence comes before essence, because we already have an essence before we have any experiences. We are born alive and we don’t know where that essence comes from. Do we have an essence when we are still embryos, living tissue, cells? yes.
At what point do you draw a boundary of yourself as a single individual that isn’t influenced by the same force that impacts all of creation? We know that we are made up of interconnected physical systems, many of which are alive independent of our free will, so how can we exist without being tied to a higher state? Personally, I don’t think it’s possible.
Essence, by such a limited definition as human personality, will never fully embody who we are. These are related concepts and what we learn through existence is quintessential to developing a personal understanding of the spiritual side of life. It can be presumed that there is a connecting force in life, but it is inherently unknowable within the limitations of humanity.
Our understanding of ourselves does not define who we are. Yes, we are impacted directly by our experiences and these help to define us, but our spirit is not confined to a certain universal plane or time period and its origins are mostly unknowable. Our experiences likely make up the largest component of who we are, but our existence is not limited to a single perspective and even then we cannot consciously recall all of our experiences. That says nothing as to how we are influenced by others.
As humans, we have limited lifespans and can never have a full understanding of ourselves. There are smaller and larger scales to who we are that aren’t comprehensible, without scientific instruments. Life goes on regardless of whether or not we are a part of it. I do not believe we cease to exist at death or start to exist at birth and this cannot be observed to discern otherwise. As essence is in all life, it is unknowable- we cannot seek to define it through one life or one body.
The best we can do is to understand essence based on the body of our experiences, but to say that this personal experience precedes the essence of a human being doesn’t make sense, when essence is constantly changing. In fact, it doesn’t make sense to define that aspect of humanity at all.
All people have blind spots to their strengths & weaknesses and all we ever truly understand is within the bounds of personal experience. That doesn’t change the fact that we have direct and indirect effects on our reality that impact how we are defined by others. Does the existence of others and their interpretations of us not also make up a part of our essence? Just because someone defines me poorly, doesn’t mean that it is a part of me, but it is a part of my reality and subsequently the essence of who I am at a given time within my limited life.
I may never be able to acknowledge certain aspects of who I am… does that mean they don’t exist? No, but it does show that humans alone, both collectively and as individuals, cannot define themselves or their reality, due to a lack of understanding. Naturally, we are prone to try to define things, as it is the basis of all language to give things “names”. We can try, but we aren’t going to ever have a full definition of what is around us, or even our own experiences. It is impossible to integrate all past, present and future aspects of a given situation into a statement, so why do we limit ourselves and others to weak definitions of existence? Why do we label things, often with rash decisiveness? Out of habit and desire for a sense of order, as established by the more primitive part of the brain in all humans.
It can be logically stated that we need to exist to come to terms with or develop an understanding of who we are. Even further complicating things is all of the experiences that make up who we are that we don’t remember. A lot of the human brain is inaccessible and these experiences would all have to be factored into the essence of who we are regardless of our recollection, for it to be an accurate depiction. I’m not saying there aren’t some methods around this…
Essence as a dependent of existence, is understood based on how we experience the world, but our experience is not the only thing that has an effect on the world around us, or on our ability to affect the world around us. You can define something to the best of your knowledge, but as our existence is limited, most of us can only define certain aspects of ego – which bares little in representing a person in their entirety.
You are special. You are an individual that cannot be defined by mere mortals, with minuscule perceptions.