Self-deception and the Dynamics of Self-knowledge

Proust and Contemporary Philosophical Debate

  • Robert Pilat Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University, Warsaw
Keywords: self-deception, proust, self-knowledge, belief change


I examine the dynamic properties of self-knowledge that create an opportunity for self-deception. I argue that in self-deception, one mistakes the liberty concerning self-interpretation with the inability to deal with the dynamics of internal states. This inability affects three areas of self-governance: 1) managing belief change; 2) upholding the validity and force of past speech acts; 3) adjusting feelings to new situations and information. My analysis of self-deception presents self-knowledge as genuinely dynamic. To know oneself is to keep track of one’s subjectivity and agency throughout the dynamic process of incorporating the old cognitive or emotional states into the new one. To deceive oneself is to take advantage of one’s inability to govern this process in order to satisfy one’s desires or reduce one’s anxiety.