Reasonable Self-Esteem

Reasonable Self-Esteem

Copyright Date: 1996
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Reasonable Self-Esteem
    Book Description:

    Keshen presents a set of guidelines for analysing self-esteem and examines various factors that influence our self-esteem, such as other people's evaluations, comparisons with others, social relationships, and inherent qualities. He asserts that self-esteem not founded on individual achievement leads to a continual search for external supports and is easily shaken when such supports are not found. A key element of Keshen's argument is the idea of egalitarian respect, and he shows how we can integrate this idea into our lives.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6579-1
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    • 1 Self-Esteem and the Reasonable Person
      (pp. 3-19)

      1.1 This chapter constructs a model which I apply in the rest of the book. My model focuses on those experiences in which we feel our self enhanced or diminished, and I shall use the termepisodic selfesteemto refer to such experiences. As I define the concept, episodic self-esteem extends but does not distort our notion of self-esteem as it is ordinarily used.²

      Here are examples of the experiences I mean to capture: (a) Jones feels a momentary glow of self-satisfaction upon making a witty remark at a party; (b) Jones feels ashamed when Adams criticizes him for not...

    • 2 Reflected Reasons
      (pp. 20-34)

      2.1 In order to appraise the impact of others' evaluations on her self-esteem, the Reasonable Person must first, in accord with guideline 2,articulatethe relevant self-esteem experiences. Now this articulation requires that the RP attend to what I call thereflected self-evaluation.

      I say that a person makes or undergoes a reflected self-evaluation if a direct cause of her experiencing a self-esteem feeling is her occurrent belief that some other person has evaluated her in a positive or negative way. The notion of anon-reflected self-evaluation,on the other hand, is defined simply as a self-esteem experience which is...

    • 3 Competitive Reasons
      (pp. 35-49)

      3.1 Common sense and psychological theory agree that how we compare ourselves to others is important to our self-esteem. Indeed, it is often said, as Malinowski does above, that comparisonsmustpredominate in the way we ground our self-esteem. On the other hand, there is the view, as expressed by Russell, that the better life is one which rises above competitive comparisons. In this chapter, I argue that the Reasonable Person is disposed, through his defining commitment, to undercut competitive self-esteem of a certain kind. In part 2 of the book, we see that this fact about the RP is...

    • 4 Identification Reasons
      (pp. 50-68)

      4.1 In this chapter, I analyse how the Reasonable Person evaluates reasons for self-esteem involving social relationships, in particular, that of group membership. In the course of this chapter and the next, we see one way to interpret Jacob Burckhardt’s important claim² that there is an association between critical scrutiny (“an objective treatment ... of the State and of all the things of this world”) and individuality (“the subjective side asserted itself”).

      In order to articulate how social relationships enter into her selfesteem, the RP must understand what I call theidentification reason. Here are examples of identification reasons: (i)...

    • 5 Inherent Reasons
      (pp. 69-88)

      5.1 Reflected, competitive, and derived reasons are powerful forces in our lives. At the same time, a life which centred itself on these reasons would appear, in the eyes of many, morally deficient. The intuition behind this judgment, I believe, is that such a life lacks dignity, and it does so because it derives its self-esteem mainly from sources outside itself. It is this (admittedly vague) intuition, for example, which C. P. Snow draws upon in his novelIn Their Wisdom,when he describes Jenny Rastall's decision to marry Lord Lorimer:

      It would be nice [Jenny mused] to have someone...

    • 6 Finding Meaning in Reasonableness
      (pp. 91-114)

      In this chapter, I show how meaning is added to the Reasonable Person’s life through her identifying with a worthy tradition. One aspect of this identification is that she comes to have self-respectquaReasonable Person. Then in chapter 8 I argue that, in virtue of her core nature, the RP acquiresegalitarian self-respect,that is, the attitude that she has equal moral status to any other person. These two kinds of self-respect are significant personal goods, and they help the RP sustain her defining commitment. My argument, then, requires that we have an understanding of self-respect. We shall see...

    • 7 Egalitarian Respect
      (pp. 115-134)

      Egalitarian respect,as I define it, is the disposition to treat any person, including oneself, as having equal moral status. There is no uncontested interpretation of “equal moral status,” either in our common culture or amongst philosophers. I shall forge my own interpretation, therefore, borrowing from others as need be. This is the work of part A of the chapter. My analysis, as we shall see, makes “treating people as equals” a more demanding commitment than it is conventionally regarded. In part B, I argue that there is no justification for egalitarian respect which could have persuasive force for all...

    • 8 “I Do Not Count for Less ...”
      (pp. 135-145)

      8.1 We have been operating on the assumption that other-respect and egalitarian self-respect would receive a unitary grounding, say, of the following form. Humans equally have worth-making property X; therefore, they are equally worthy of egalitarian respect; since I am human, then I am justified in possessing egalitarian self-respect. (The other attempts at an impersonal grounding were equally unitary in form.) An alternative approach is that the two attitudes receive distinct groundings, and this is the strategy I shall now follow. Moreover, once we give up the idea of producing an impersonal grounding, then a dual grounding of the kind...

    • 9 “I Do Not Count for More...”
      (pp. 146-172)

      9.1 To contribute to the good of others is, for all normal people, part of a meaningful life. In this chapter I show that the Reasonable Person's core nature, through its connection to other-respect, is congruent with this ingredient of a desirable life. First, let us briefly see why, if a person has the trait of other-respect, he contributes to others good.

      Out of respect for others’ basic rights (criterion 4) and out of fairness (criterion 3), an egalitarian agent constrains the pursuit of his own good, even when he could take advantage of others by violating their rights or...

  7. Notes
    (pp. 173-192)
  8. Bibliography
    (pp. 193-200)
  9. Index
    (pp. 201-203)