The "Self": What is it?
Just who are we? We think of ourselves as individuals, as persons, as human beings. We think of ourselves as having many parts and many dimensions. We think of ourselves as reasonable, or emotional, or spiritual, or physical. We think of ourselves as being in relationships with others. We think of ourselves as a complex whole.
That says we are, indeed, many-faceted, but all this has no unity. When we try to put it together, we can’t. There’s too much there to unify. We can, however, determine who we are in a different way. We can say, “I have an ultimate core identity as my “Self.” We can try to determine what is my “Self.” The process may go something like this.
The Self as the Renaissance Man or Woman
During the summer after my first year in college, I read Jefferson the Virginian. This book is a classic biography of Thomas Jefferson’s first forty years and the first in a six-volume series by the pre-eminent Jefferson scholar Dumas Malone. I realized that Thomas Jefferson was the epitome of what one could become. Jefferson represented the ideal of the Renaissance Man. Jefferson became my own ideal of what I wanted to be, as much as I could.
The Renaissance Man or Woman as Ideals
Actually, Jefferson far exceeded the ideal. The Renaissance Man could dance and write poetry and woo women, but also fight well, serve his feudal lord faithfully, and develop at least one or two other talents or abilities. Engineering or diplomacy would do nicely. Being a first-rate general who could also write love poems, appreciate a fine painting, and play a musical instrument would do quite well.
No one has said much about the Renaissance Woman, but Renaissance Women there were. The best of them was Isabella d’Este (1474-1539), who ran her husband’s Italian city-state of Mantua while he was absent fighting wars. Even Lucretia Borgia (1480-1519), the illegitimate daughter of Pope Alexander VI and a pawn in her father’s and brother’s political manipulations, held her own quite well as a true Renaissance duchess presiding over a cultured court in Ferrara.
Jefferson as the Renaissance Ideal
Jefferson himself was born into the landed gentry of Colonial Virginia. It was expected that he would be a leader of the colony and of society. He was extremely bright. His intellectual curiosity was endless. Somewhat shy initially, in time he could hold court at the dinner table with the best of them. He was also endlessly creative and a detailed record-keeper and problem-solver.

Freud Zoomed
My first concept of "Self"

In the fullness of time he developed his talents as a farmer, an architect, a practical engineer, a surveyor, an intellectual, a political philosopher, a politician, a diplomat, the draftsman for some of America’s greatest political documents, an ambassador, a founder of a political party, a secretary of state, President of the United States, and senior statesman. He died on the same day as John Adams, July 4, 1826 at the age of 83.