It actually boils down to a number, whichever way you see it. Your birth certificate number, passport, credit card, PAN, social security, employee, insurance, bank account number and of course your death certificate number.
The first child, the second child; a number
And not in the least, a census statistic!
That is what an identity is – a number – the unique identity.
You have a name, a personality, characteristics, attitude, and many more such attributes that set you apart from the other person. But there will always be duplication somewhere. Another person has the same name you have, your personality and characteristics are similar to someone else’s. You often heard them say, “You know, you are behaving like him (or her).” Even your attitude is not really unique in that sense. No such attribute which you think uniquely ‘identifies’ you is really unique – you may not know it – but that’s another thing. I doubt if the human brain is capable of remembering so many numbers – that is why we make this map.
Even a name doesn’t provide any identity as such, it does provide a perception – but that is again a map of what we have known and what we believe. A name is only as useful as distinguishing between two persons, for example, in a conversation. It is easy for us to map certain vague attributes to name and create a mental map that helps us relate better.
Yet there is one personal identity which is still unique – your e-identity – if I may. No two URLs (which are a mark of your online identity are ever duplicated (it just doesn’t work that way). No two email addresses are the same.
If you would care to become a bit technical – I guess even that would identify you as a number.