Segments in this Video

Meet the Panelists (01:39)


Author Helen Croydon explains the debate format and introduces author Christopher Hamilton, writer and actress Adjoa Andoh, and anthropology professor Daniel Miller.

Christopher Hamilton: The Pitch (04:40)

Hamilton argues that we are caught between thinking of ourselves as having permanent characteristics and believing we are flexible— including our reactions to moods and environments. He discusses using hindsight to understand our actions and motivations.

Adjoa Andoh: The Pitch (03:59)

Andoh became interested in identity when her teenage daughter began a gender transformation. She discusses the many aspects of self, including self-criticism, self-consciousness, and self-confidence.

Daniel Miller: The Pitch (04:16)

Miller is interested in the spatial metaphor of inner self. He found that Trinidadians believe that our true identity depends on how others see us. Anthropological studies find that hierarchical societies hide the true self, while egalitarian societies "wear" it on the surface.

Theme One: What is the Self and Can We Know It? (03:26)

Hamilton argues that biological impulses provide a sense of self-awareness; he presents Heidegger's theory of Being-In-The-World. Andoh argues that people calibrate which part of self to reveal, depending on context. She believes our identity is culturally constructed.

Theme Two: Is the Self Important to Know Ourselves? (09:28)

Andoh discusses her transgender son's experience of feeling fundamentally wrong and unhappy as a girl. She argues that we need a sense of self against which to judge external validation, and wonders how transgender people cope in intolerant cultures.

Theme Three: Should we Give Up on Self Knowledge? - Part One (07:28)

Miller discusses how empathy increases self-awareness; the self comes from externalization. Hamilton argues that most of our actions are taken without reason. We try to explain our beliefs in retrospect; self-reflection increases self-awareness.

Theme Three: Should we Give Up on Self Knowledge? - Part Two (04:37)

Andoh argues that we can find ourselves unconsciously through our passions. Hamilton shares his experience of discovering his real father's identity at age 38. Miller argues that the pressure to find oneself is a burden and irrelevant to how we function in life.

Debate Summary (01:55)

Miller argues that the search for self is irrelevant. Andoh believes reflection on relationships can enrich how we interact with others. Hamilton believes that the self is fundamentally mysterious.

Credits: Catching Sight of Ourselves: Who Looks Back in the Mirror? (00:11)

Credits: Catching Sight of Ourselves: Who Looks Back in the Mirror?

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Catching Sight of Ourselves: Who Looks Back in the Mirror?

Part of the Series : Institute of Art and Ideas: Cutting Edge Debates and Talks from the World's Leading Thinkers
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Far flung destinations are often home to those seeking to "find themselves." Encouraged perhaps by Socrates’ maxim for an ethical life: "know thyself." But do any of us ever arrive? Is the self a real and stable enough "thing" that it can be known? Or can we never catch sight of ourselves in the mirror?

The Panel

Anthropologist and author of Stuff Daniel Miller, actress and writer Adjoa Andoh, and KCL philosopher Christopher Hamilton examine the limits of self-knowledge. Helen Croydon hosts.

Length: 48 minutes

Item#: BVL115736

ISBN: 978-1-63521-096-5

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

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Only available in USA and Canada.