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date: 11 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter adopts a broad perspective on the issue of social identity and the human essence. It first considers the unique capacity of reflexivity not only as a likely element of the human essence but one that “creates rather than limits our possibilities.” It then examines how the concept of human essence can be used to perpetuate social inequality; the idea that biology is destiny versus the idea that biology is freedom; the ways in which group alignment feeds into collective self-realization; and how members of a social group with shared social identity become aligned at the level of cognition and co-action. It also explores agency, ideology, and relationships in relation to human essence. The chapter suggests that there are alternative and more liberatory notions of human essence, ones that focus on human potential rather than human limitations, and shows how this potential is realized in the collective.

Keywords: agency, biology, cognition, inequality, ideology, reflexivity, relationships, self-realization, social identity, human potential

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