Some notes on Self-deception

I. Why it's a problem.

  1. A brief analysis of "other-deception"
  2. The apparent impossibility of self deception--the difference of self-deception in terms of the logic of the deception
  3. Some analyses of self-deception
    1. The Freudian analysis in terms of the unconscious
    2. The Sartrean analysis in terms of bad faith
    3. Platonic-Rosenweigean Analysis and Martha Stout's work in The Myth of Sanity
    4. The necessity of filtered experience and the role of illusion in the work of Ernest Becker.
    5. Physicalist analyses, complicated analyses, multiparadigmatic perspectives.

D. Deception, self deception, and human greatness.

The role of filtered experience and illusion in the work of Ernest Becker and in turn of the 21st century work on attention.

See Shelley Taylor's Positive Illusions: Creative Self-Deception and the Healthy Mind (New York: Basic Books, inc., 1989) for an extended presentation of this data and a fascinating discussion of the persuasiveness and utility of self-deception.

See Paul Ekman's Telling Lies: Clues to Deceit in the Marketplace,Politics, and Marriage (New York: W. W. Norton, 1992) for an extensive treatment of lie detection techniques and their limits).

For the utility of self-deception in the case of health see Richard S. Lazarus's "Positive Denial: The Case for not Facing Reality."Interviewed by Daniel Goleman in Psychology Today, November 1979,pp. 44ff.

For an example of this in Plato see his Republic; for Saul Rosenzweig's approach, see his "Background to Idiodynamics" in The Clinical Psychologist, 1986, 39: 83-89.

Sartre's analysis of bad faith can be found in Being and Nothingness.

M. Kagan, for PHL 403, Le Moyne College; last revised September, 2009.

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