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The Divided Self

The Divided Self

(p.109) 7 The Divided Self
Human Predicaments
John Kekes
University of Chicago Press

We have a present self with which we are dissatisfied and aim at a future self that would be better. The conflicts between them are permanent problems in our evaluative framework. Aiming at an undivided self is a dangerous ideal, as shown by the lives of Cortes, who caused immense harm to millions of innocent people, and Weil, who slowly and fanatically destroyed herself. Both had consequences that cannot be reasonably accepted. We have reason to improve our present self and to develop a better future self, but our evaluations of what would be better are dictated by our present self with which we are dissatisfied and by the evaluative framework and its modes of evaluation. In the light of these problems, it is reasonable to doubt our own evaluations and to cultivate a negative capability that understands our imperfections.

Keywords:   problems, conflicts, present and future self, dissociation, dissatisfactions, evaluative framework, Cortes case, Weil case, reasonable doubt, negative capability

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