Taking Our Selves Too Seriously: Commitment, Contestation, and the Dynamic Life of the Self

Southern Journal of Philosophy 57 (4):505-538 (2019)
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In this article, I distinguish two models of personal integrity. The first, wholeheartedness, regards harmonious unity of the self as psychologically healthy and volitional consistency as ethically ideal. I argue that it does so at the substantial cost of framing ambivalence and conflict as defects of character and action. To avoid these consequences, I propose an alternate ideal of humility that construes the self as multiple and precarious and celebrates experiences of loss and transformation through which learning, growth, innovation, and dynamic relationship become possible. This ideal not only sustains prospects for integrity but is more suitable than wholeheartedness for recognizing practices of contestation, such as those involving potentially destabilizing encounters with difference that is common within pluralistic societies, as vital for rich, well-lived lives.
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First archival date: 2019-12-27
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