More thoughts on identity

As I read Norms and Nobility by David Hicks, one of the ways he defines things is by prescriptive and descriptive.

Prescriptive ideas are the “thou shalt” (or “thou shalt not”). They’re prescribing a certain way, a specific activity, like a doctor prescribes a medicine.

Descriptive ideas are describing (tautology? Perhaps). They describe how things actually are.

My Notes from Norms and Nobility

We get into trouble when we mix the two up. One is not “bad” and the other “good” unless we put them into the wrong role. When something that is descriptive becomes prescribed – or vice versa. We need both.

I’ve been thinking about this with the idea of Worldview. Worldview should describe the view of the world that an individual has. Where the idea of worldview gets into trouble is when we say that some tenet must be normative to all worldviews; when worldview becomes prescriptive.

“Homeschool Mom” is actually descriptive. It’s what I currently do. It’s how I work out the life that I’ve been given. It has parameters, but when they become prescriptive, when they become all-encompassing norms, that’s when I get into trouble. We lose ourselves in the “what we do” becoming the “who I am.”


  1. Perhaps vocations are always descriptive? I am a person, a woman, a child of God, etc. These identities are prescriptive, but my vocations (wife, mother, teacher) are descriptive.

  2. Yes and when What I Do becomes Who I Am and What I do ends — we lose our footing. Homeschooling does end. I will not be a homeschooling mom forever.

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