The philosophy of self seeks to describe essential qualities that constitute a person's uniqueness or essential being. There have been various approaches to defining these qualities. The self can be considered that being which is the source of consciousness, the agent responsible for an individual's thoughts and actions, or the substantial nature of a person which endures and unifies consciousness over time.
The psychology of self is the study of either the cognitive and affective representation of one's identity or the subject of experience. The earliest formulation of the self in modern psychology forms the distinction between the self as I, the subjective knower, and the self as Me, the subject that is known. Current views of the self in psychology position the self as playing an integral part in human motivation, cognition, affect, and social identity. Self following from John Locke has been seen as a product of episodic memory but research upon those with amnesia find they have a coherent sense of self based upon preserved conceptual autobiographical knowledge. It is increasingly possible to correlate cognitive and affective experience of self with neural processes. A goal of this ongoing research is to provide grounding and insight into the elements of which the complex multiply situated selves of human identity are composed. The 'Disorders of the Self' have also been extensively studied by psychiatrists.
The self is constantly evolving due to the complexities of cultures and societies. Researchers have shown that the self is dependent on the culture that the self has been situated in. Several comparisons between western cultures versus eastern cultures show that there are cultural differences among the self and self-concept. The self can be redefined as a dynamic, responsive process that structures neural pathways according to past and present environments including material, social, and spiritual aspects.
Self-concept can be referred to as a product instead of a process like the self is represented as. Self-concept is a concept or belief that an individual has upon him/herself as an emotional, spiritual, and social being. Therefore, the self-concept is the idea of who I am, kind of like a self-reflection of one’s well being. For example, the self-concept is anything you say about yourself. A society is a group of people who share a common belief or aspect of Self interacting toward the maintenance or betterment of the collective.
Culture consists of explicit and implicit patterns of historically derived and selected ideas and their embodiment in institutions, cognitive and social practices, and artifacts. Cultural systems may, on the one hand, be considered as products of action, and on the other, as conditioning elements of further action. Therefore, the following sections will explore how the self and self-concept can be changed due to different cultures.