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7 - Public and Private Aspects of the Self

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

Charles S. Carver
Affiliation:
University of Miami
Michael F. Scheier
Affiliation:
Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania
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Summary

To thine own self be true.

(William Shakespeare, Hamlet)

What it came down to, stupidly, was a sense of shame. Hot, stupid shame. I did not want people to think badly of me.… I would go to war – I would kill and maybe die – because I was embarrassed not to.

(Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried)

The two previous chapters addressed goals underlying behavior. We made several distinctions there, aimed mostly at conceptualizing differences between long-term and short-term goals, abstract and concrete goals. In this chapter we address another kind of distinction.

Here we reflect on the fact that some of the goals that lie behind behavior are private and personal. They don't take into account the wishes, desires, or sometimes even the existence of other people. In contrast, other goals explicitly take into account the wishes and desires of other people. This chapter focuses on the divergence between these classes of goals. There are several ways to take other people into account, and that's part of the story as well.

ASPECTS OF SELF

The themes of this chapter are rooted deeply in psychology – rooted not in the goal construct so much as in the concept of self. James (1890, pp. 292–305), discussing the idea that the self is multifaceted, distinguished between what he called the spiritual self and the social self. The spiritual self is the inner subjective being, the person's dispositions. It's the part of self that welcomes or rejects experiences.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1998

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