Advertisement

Is There a True Self?

  • Akiko Frischhut
Chapter

Abstract

To ‘find one’s true self’ or to ‘reveal one’s true self’ are common enough expressions. But what do we really mean by the ‘true self’? Does it play an important explanatory role in understanding ourselves? The aim of this article is to shed light on the intuition that people have a true self—in contrast to their more readily perceptible “everyday self”—and to see whether we can give a clear philosophical account of it. When it comes to characterizing the true self on the basis of these, I argue, our intuitions point us in two directions. The first suggests that the true self expresses a person’s essential nature. The second focuses on our own role in creating and maintaining a true self. I argue that both suggestions fail. Although the idea of a true self does not lack intuitive appeal, it is neither conducive to a convincing account, nor does it advance a theoretical understanding of ourselves as persons.

Notes

Acknowledgements

I wish to thank Federico Lauria, Alain Pé-Curto, Graham Peebles and audiences at the conference ‘Self and (its) Realization(s)’ at Hokkaido University and at the ‘Institutskolloquium’ of the Universität Stuttgart for their helpful comments and support, and David Bain for suggesting the title to me.

References

  1. Deonna, Julien A., and Fabrice Teroni. 2009. Taking Affective Explanations to Heart. Social Science Information 48 (3): 359–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Frankfurt, Harry. 1988. Identification and Wholeheartedness. In The Importance of What We Care About: Philosophical Essays. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Frankfurt, Harry. 1998. Autonomy, Necessity and Love. In Necessity, Volition, and Love, 129–141. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar
  4. Lauria, Federico, and Alain Pé-Curto. 2011. Who Do You Think You Are—The How-What Theory of Character and Personality. In Self‐Evaluation—Affective and Social Grounds of Intentionality, ed. Anita Konzelmann Ziv, Keith Lehrer, and Hans Bernhard Schmid. Dordrecht: Springer. Google Scholar
  5. Mulligan, Kevin. 2009. On Being Struck by Value: Exclamations, Motivations and Vocations. In Leben mit Gefühlen: Emotionen, Werte und ihre Kritik, ed. B. Merker. Mentis: Paderborn.Google Scholar
  6. Velleman, J. David. 2005. Identification and Identity. In Self to Self: Selected Essays, 330–360. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Williams, Bernard. 1973. Integrity. In Utilitarianism: For and Against, ed. J.J.C. Smart and Bernard Williams. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Akiko Frischhut
    • 1
  1. 1.Akita International UniversityAkitaJapan

Personalised recommendations