Identity in a Nutshell

Identity is universal (RMK)

Definition of Identity

Identity means “sameness”. It is defined as: The sameness of a person or group at all times or in all circumstances; the condition or fact that a person or group is itself and not something else. [1]

Personal Identity

“Sameness” is contained in the nature of the unique, individual, viable, measurable and permanent DNA control mechanism of the human body—known as the personal genome—over its entire life.

Group Identity

Collective “sameness” (i.e., group-, communal- or collective-identity) is found in the ability of individual genomes to interbreed.

Intimate Link

Interbreeding (or human reproduction) is the intimate link between personal and group identities.


Being dependent on an empirical base, the paradigm of identity just described is also known as (aka) “objective- “or “scientific-identity”. Being applicable to all humanity, it is also known as “universal-identity”.

Implications and Conclusions

The definition of group or collective identity implies that there are no fundamental, innate or intrinsic divisions in the human species. [2]

Cognitive perspectives of the person and the sub-communities to which the person belongs are mainly subjective and, as a result, lack “sameness” over time. Thus, they cannot be classified as “identity”. Doing so causes widespread confusion which can be overcome by confining the term “identity” strictly to its objective definition provided here.

Nonetheless, cognitive perspectives are valuable in that they complement our understanding of who we are as individuals and as a group. In other words, sense of self and sense of the sub-communities to which the individual belongs are enlightened by the objective base of identity together with all subjective insights of self and community.

Corollary: Focusing exclusively on cognitive perspectives of who we are and not taking account of the influences of human genetics prevents a full comprehension of the self and the community.

The objectives of Our Own Identity’s website is to be the voice for universal identity while, at the same time, examining subjective insights of self and the sub-communities to which the individual belongs (e.g., “Irish” and “Irishness”).


  • [1] Based on the Oxford English Dictionary (2nd edition, 1989)
  • [2] Having no innate divisions in the human species implies that a single community (aka ethnicity, culture, etc.,) exists, which is composed of a range of interlinked appendages (sub-communities) that have developed over time.

Further Reading

A succinct overview of the science of identity is provided here and here

For Post-independence Perspectives on ‘Irishness’ and Identity see here

Identity sources

Other articles in this website provide further insights into the paradigm of objective identity and the complementarity of cognitive perspectives of ourselves.

The genesis of universal identity can be traced through an uplifting anthropological exploration of its meaning ( e-book version here )

Universal identity source





Availability in paperback

  • Alan Hanna’s Bookshop, 270 Rathmines Road Lower, Dublin 6
  • Books Upstairs, 17 D’Olier Street Dublin Dublin 2
  • Kennys Bookshop, Galway