It is primarily through our identification with social groups that we define ourselves.
How we human being define ourselves has being one of the most important and basic philosophic questions ever since the ancient Greek philosophy period, which seems even more confusing and mysterious in this era of rapid social and technological changes leading to increasing complexity in both personal life and social environment.The title statement considers "our identification with social groups" the primary element to our self-identification. However, in my opinion, the dual quality of both individuality and sociality of human being calls for a balance in which there is not only social identification but also individual identification within the process of one's self-identification.
Social identification is necessary because everyone lives in a certain social environment, and it is from this social environment that we learn the behavior norms,form the outlook of value, and find the direction of our lives. As Karl Marx, the great German philosopher illustrated brilliantly (and I paragraph), which he regarded as the main key in his whole philosophic system," Human being is a kind of social animal, the essential of a human being is a synthesis of all his or her social relationships." That means, every person acts as different social roles in different time and to different object. As to a man, for example, he is son, husband and father in his family, he is teacher to his students, and also he is a fan of the New York Nicks when he watches the basketball match in the stadium. The process of enjoying right as well as fulfilling incumbency of every role is just the process for one to form his or her integrated human definition. So, undoubtedly, social identification is unavoidable in human self-identification.
Simply put, without being set in some certain social environment, one cannot be properly defined. The best example to this is the wolf-girl found in Amazon forest, who was the only survivor of a severe airplane accident and was brought up by a group of wolfs. The wolf-girl had no psychological characteristics of mankind, she is afraid of staying together with others, cannot communicate with others. Even in physical points,she was more similar with a wolf rather than a human, she stepped with her all fours and ate raw meat. Obviously, one who is of no sociality like a wolf-girl cannot be defined as a real human being.
On the contrary, however, over social identification leads to an assimilation in the whole society, which is in a sense harmful to social development and will probably prevent people from making clear some personalities hiding deeply in one's spiritual world, which is of equal importance in people's self-identification as sociality. Not all teachers are supposed to be kind and affable, some students need a stricter one. Not all employees are supposed to be precise and conservative, some employers prefer a more energetic and adventurous one. The attempt to form people in the same shape was proved a big error and a destructive calamity to the society both in pre-U.S.S.R.under the Stalin's administration and in China in 1970's. To sum up, as mentioned in the famous movie "Legend of the fall", no one can refuse to listen to the voice from his or her own heart, the self-identification without individuality is not an integrated one.
Without social identification, one can not find the origin from which his sense of value,social norms and life plan was drawn, without looking for some inborn characteristics within oneself, one will miss the important part which different him(her)self from others in the society. So while self-definition necessitates sociality, individuality is equally important. Only can a perfect combination of these two aspects lead to a correct definition of human being.