One way to characterize identity I think is the notion that we are wired differently relative to others, siblings inclusive. While some pervert this notion in the sense of attempting to characterize it as “determinism”, I believe the right perspective is characterization as “opportunity”. If we all are exactly alike, we all would only be able to solve one set of problems in a world filled with myriads of problems that differ significantly in nature from physics all the way to music or art. An orchestra is a beautiful illustration of differences in identity operating in complementarity with each other, resulting in something beautiful.

If I am gifted in Mathematics, I have opportunity to grow that gifting into something of value. If I am gifted in Music, I have opportunity to do the same. Since everyone has some unique wiring, in a perfect world, there would be a place for every single person, a place within which we would find contentment, peace, joy, and satisfaction with what we do with our lives. In an imperfect world, we try our best to attain to that place which best approximates the ideal that would obtain in an utopia.

Our uniqueness introduces some “uncertainty” or “behavioral complexities” around our rationality. It is not the case then that we are irrational, but rather that our uniqueness or identity personalizes our choices, such that our actions are at times difficult to rationalize unless an interpreter has access to information on identity and context.

Consider that two people with different degrees of self discipline can make two different choices, both of which contingent on their self discipline (identity) are rational. Say Person 1 has learnt discipline of exercise while Person 2 still struggles with discipline of exercise. Person 1 can declare he cares about healthy living yet consume two cans of soda everyday. Why? He knows he can work it off. Person 2 simultaneously declares he cares about healthy living, in light of his current discipline situation, however, abstains from drinking soda. If we do not understand Person 1’s rationalization, it appears Person 1 is living contradictory to his rationality — interest in a healthy lifestyle. In actual fact and in presence of the rationalizing information, Person 1’s actions are fully rational.

Suppose a consumer prefers to buy in bulk in order to take advantage of bulk savings. Now assume the consumer has a savings target of US$1,000.00 of which she now has attained to US$980.00. If said consumer buys the desired item in bulk for actualization of savings on the item, her savings account stays at US$980.00. If she goes for the retail version, she saves US$20.00 in expenditure and reaches savings account target of US$1,000.00. Without access to information on the targeted savings objective, it would seem irrational that she would not spend US$40.00, which she can afford at timing of purchase to avail herself of item specific bulk savings. We see then that absent rationalizing information, attempts at study of rationality and intersection with behavior can be fraught with many dangers or false conclusions.

We are not irrational beings. We are rational people whose decisions, actions, and choices are colored by our identity, circumstances, context, amount of risk we are comfortable with etc. Complexity induced by multiplicity of rationalizing parameters and our resolution of complexity for decision making all contribute towards making life interesting, non-deterministic from one person to the other, and beautiful.

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Educator and Researcher, Believer in Spirituality, Life is serious business, but we all are pilgrims so I write about important stuff with empathy and ethos

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