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Identity and Philosophy in “Sophie’s World” by Gaarder

The problem of identity has perplexed great philosophers for many centuries and has resulted in differing philosophical views. Many philosophers hold that identity is an inherent characteristic that lies deep in the nature of human existence and attempts to unravel it calls for the understanding of other entities that intricately link and define life. In his efforts to define his identity, Rene Descartes invented a system of doubt, arguing that, since he can think, therefore, he exists.

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Thus, the identity of human beings rests on the fact that they can think about their nature relative to other bodies in the environment that do have the capacity to think. In the novel, Sophie’s World, Albert Knox is a philosopher who teaches Sophie Amundsen that identity in life is essential as it gives the real meaning of life. Albert Knox argues that questioning identity and existence is critical for one to achieve the full meaning of life. To understand the problem of identity, the essay explores how the novel, Sophie’s world, and my thoughts perceive identity.

In his efforts to immersed Sophie Amundsen, a fourteen-year-old girl, Alberto Knox expands her mind by teaching her about ancient philosophical myths and natural philosophy. Exposure to the philosophical world confused Sophie Amundsen because she was too young to understand the mysteries of life and thus did not realize her identity in life. Sophie learned about great philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle who struggled during their times to achieve and realize their identity amidst a complex of nature.

According to Sophie’s World, Socrates is the most impressive philosopher for he was too wise to realize his identity as a novice. Through the ancient times, Socrates searched for wisdom to define his identity and eventually discovered that he knew nothing yet many considered him wise, and he was indeed wise. Therefore, Sophie Amundsen immersed herself into the world of philosophy to define her identity since she wanted to know her identity and the existence of the world for her to attain the real meaning of life that had perplexed her.

Immersed in philosophical theories, Sophie Amundsen questioned her existence, but George Berkely’s philosophical idea somehow gave her perception that existence is just an idea in the mind of God. In her efforts to establish the existence of the mysterious philosopher, Alberto Knox, she studied philosophy tirelessly to prove whether the philosophical perceptions are real, or are just ideas in her mind. George Berkely, in immaterialism, argues that the existence of immaterial things is a matter of perceptions.

The idea that human perceptions create the existence of immaterial things in the universe amazed Sophie Amundsen as she wondered about mysterious philosophies of the past centuries at her tender age of 14 years. George Berkely’s view of human perception as mere ideas in mind confounds Rene Descartes argument that ability to think is a proof of existence. If the ability of a human being to perceive philosophical ideas proves the existence, then how can the same perceptions be mere ideas that are in mind? Such and many other philosophical questions perplexed Sophie Amundsen on her course of philosophy.

Since the existence of things in the universe depends on human perception, the existence of the universe is in the mind of God. This means that the idea in the mind of God keeps the universe in existence and existence of things in the world depends on individual perception. Jostein Gaarder, the author of the Sophie’s World, insinuates that Sophie Amundsen, Alberto Knox, and Hilde are mysterious characters that only exist in his mind but not in reality.

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The author thought of a philosophical world of a young girl who is struggling with complex ideas of philosophical world intending to define her identity. Sophie Amundsen found herself in the world of philosophy, engaging with the great minds of the past who have already defined their identity. Still, she strived hard to understand philosophical theories that would enable her to define her identity.

Rene Descartes argues that he exists because he can think while George Berkely argues that, the existence of immaterial things is a matter of ideas in mind due to perception. The philosophical arguments seem to contradict each other as human thoughts is a proof of existence, but they also depend on the mind perceiving the existence. Sophie found it difficult in defining her identity based on her ability to think, or it would be just an idea in mind. Eventually, she realized that nature consists of material and immaterial components that need different identities. The mind must perceive the immaterial world of spirits while the body must sense the material world of objects.

With great efforts to grasp philosophy, Sophie Amundsen noted that her friend Hilde was also learning philosophy as she found many postcards addressed to her. At her younger age, philosophy amazed and confused her to the extent that she devoted a great deal of time contemplating about mysteries of life. Sophie Amundsen devoted her time in learning philosophy as Alberto Knox convinced her that philosophy is critical in unravelling the mysteries of life.

Since Sophie Amundsen was very young and receptive to philosophical knowledge, she learned a lot of philosophical concepts and theories that try to explain the identity and existence of humanity. Sophie Amundsen strived to attain her identity and existence of the universe by studying philosophy. She learned about Jesus as a deity, God with supreme cognitive powers, the world of spirits, Marxism, Darwinism, Freudian development and existence.

Sophie Amundsen studied all these philosophical knowledge to have an expansive and in-depth view of life to establish her identity in the universe. It is quite evident that she was thirsting to define her identity and existence of the world because she eventually applied philosophical knowledge in manipulating the world as a spirit being.

Based on the philosophical concept of George Berkely, human identity lies in the perception of the universe. If the existence of the universe is all in the mind of God, then identity too is in mind. Perception of the environment relative to self substantially defines my identity because I can understand my uniqueness in the complex universe made of both material and immaterial things. Whether I perceive the universe or not matters less, the universe continues to exist because it is in the mind of God.

Still, I cannot define my identity if I cannot perceive myself in relation to the material and immaterial world. Realization of the material and immaterial nature of my body is a matter of perception that is imperative in interacting with other minds and bodies as components of the universe. Thus, my identity lies in the perception of the mind.

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According to my thoughts, human beings can easily solve the problem of identity if they understand the nature and existence of the universe. Concerning human nature, many theories and myths explain the origin of humanity and their destiny. What has perplexed humanity for long is the mystery of life that seems to have a complex origin and unknown fate. If I can establish the origin of my life and the fate of my life, then, it is possible to define my identity in the universe.

Since no theory and myths satisfactorily explain the origin of humanity and the universe, people remain confused about how they can define their nature. The fact that there is expansive knowledge in the world attests that human beings are still striving to define their nature because human identity comes from the perception and understanding of human nature and existence. For me to solve the problem of identity, I must consult and consider philosophies of great thinkers who sought to identify their nature and existence of universe so that I can have a glimpse of what really constitutes my identity.

My identity lies in my ability to understand human nature and the existence of the universe in terms of origin and fate. To define my identity, I need to comprehend my uniqueness relative to other bodies in nature that I interact with constantly as well as mysterious bodies that exist in the universe and the realm of spirituality. Knowing my uniqueness in nature, origin, and fate will enable me to define my identity amidst a complex of other creatures that are in the universe.

Since I was born, I have been busy accumulating knowledge and skills from diverse realms of life that give me the wisdom to define my origin, identity, and destiny in life. My ability to think and perceive nature defines me as a rational being with the capacity to manipulate the universe for my own benefit.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, February 4). Identity and Philosophy in “Sophie’s World” by Gaarder. Retrieved from


StudyCorgi. (2021, February 4). Identity and Philosophy in “Sophie’s World” by Gaarder.

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"Identity and Philosophy in “Sophie’s World” by Gaarder." StudyCorgi, 4 Feb. 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "Identity and Philosophy in “Sophie’s World” by Gaarder." February 4, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "Identity and Philosophy in “Sophie’s World” by Gaarder." February 4, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Identity and Philosophy in “Sophie’s World” by Gaarder." February 4, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Identity and Philosophy in “Sophie’s World” by Gaarder'. 4 February.

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