What is the nature of human self, In the ancient and mediaeval philosophy, the self was synonymous with the soul, and the soul was believed to be an indestructible substance which existed before its temporary conjunction with the material body and which survives the dissolution of the body. The notion of the soul was taken over from primitive thought and was refined and elaborated by philosophers. Aristotle was the only great philosopher who rejected this view and propounded a theory more in consonance with natural science. He regarded the soul as the entelechy of the body, and as it was the form of the body, it was also inseparable from it. The soul was thus placed squarely in the system of natural phenomena. However for centuries after Aristotle, both scientists and philosophers unquestionably accepted the older view of an independent and supernatural soul. It was challenged only when modem science was well under way.
In the eighteenth century, the term Self, came into vogue. It had advantage of being closer to nature than the term soul, which had a super-naturalistic flavor. The self was regarded as the subject of experience. It was regarded as free and not subject to natural laws. Hume delivered the coup de grace to the popular belief in an independent self and replaced it with empirical self as merely a succession of ideas, which are related to each other externally by virtue of existing in the same or successive states of consciousness. In the modern psychology the concept of personality has supplanted the older concept of self. The psychologist now studies the origin of personality and the process of its development as well as the process of its disintegration in abnormal cases. Personality is conceived not as an entity but as the form or pattern which the raw material of mind assumes when it was organized. The organization of the instinctive urges, tendencies and capacities constitutes the biological equipment of the individual during the formative years of life.
According to this view two factors, the physiological and the social, determine the farther course of personality development. The physiologists hold that the hormones secreted by the endocrine glands play a decisive role in the growth and normal functioning of personality. The social psychologists tend to attach greater importance to the social milieu in which the human child grows up. Personality emerges through the process of socialization. The child internalizes the group code and the social norms which immediately begin to regulate this instinctive urges and motives. The group also assigns to him a particular role, and the child develops the capacities and gives free scope to the tendencies, which he meets for playing the role successfully. According to this point of view, the individual plays a negligible role in his/her own development. He/She remains passive while society moulds him into the form that happens to enjoy social approval at the moment. The inadequacy of this view is obvious: two children, brought up in the same social environment, develop different types of personality.
According to psychologists view, personality develops as the result of the reactions of the individual itself. The important thing for personality isn't the social influence to which the individual is exposed but the way, the process, in which he reacts to it. Men, therefore, doesn't passively receive but actively acquires personality. The biological factor operating in man is of crucial importance for personality development. However, it will not act to disregard the social factor altogether. Man has, perforce, to accommodate himself to the demands of the group on which he is dependent and which provides him with security and necessities of life. According to psychological theory, personality is the product of the interaction between the heredity constitution of man and his social milieu (Blum: Theories of Personality, 1961). The psychologists first analyze personality into traits and then discover that each trait had a certain dimension. The combined result of these traits was termed as an overall picture of personality or personality profile (King: Reading for an Introduction to Psychology, 1961).