In a fascinating post and discussion on what constitutes 'the self' Ktismatics has topped off a series of posts (developed over some time) discussing the ideas of Hegel, Derrida, Gadamer, Lacan, Deleuze, Tomasello, and many others, and charting out some new territory too on subjects as diverse as language, hermeneutics, psychotherapy relationships, and the self.
Particularly in our work with autistic children, but also with those who have other developmental problems, we often encounter the process of discovering and developing the sense of self. Our interaction, though, is always on the practical side. We are trying to 'correct deficits' and the norm is always what the majority of kids of that age group would attain.
How much is 'just' genetics and what effects do changes in nurturing style and other 'inputs' have on these children? Even if one is inclined to see the self as largely genetically programmed, one is still reminded that an awful lot depends on skill, and skill is something that is very relationally learned. But, my own feeling is that it is not even 50% genes. I believe that environment and social context make a huge difference. I have witnessed what effect some focused therapy can have on a child. We also see marked changes with modifications in physical factors like diet and sleep and exercise.
Children should indeed be encouraged and helped to reach their full potentials. How exactly we go about doing this is something that every parent, teacher, therapist, or anyone else that is around kids a lot, needs to keep struggling with. The child's sense of self and the child's developing personality do require and demand our attention and care.I am very thankful indeed for Ktismatics' massive effort to help to clarify some very confusing issues even though a large part of my confusion still remains! Indeed very often the discussion has gone right over my head but always in the process setting off various trains of thought and bringing much needed fresh perspectives.