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Self-KnowledgeA History$
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Ursula Renz

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190226411

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190226411.001.0001

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Self-Knowledge and Self-Deception in Modern Moral Philosophy

Self-Knowledge and Self-Deception in Modern Moral Philosophy

(p.164) Chapter nine Self-Knowledge and Self-Deception in Modern Moral Philosophy

Aaron Garrett

Oxford University Press

This chapter outlines what I refer to as the self-knowledge tradition: that we can attain self-knowledge via our natural reason, that the attainment of self-knowledge is a key goal of philosophy, and that it is desirable and important. Then I focus on an attack on this tradition beginning with Jean Calvin and Conrad Jansenius that questioned the attainment of self-knowledge via natural reason due to the corruptness or inefficacy of our natural reason. This corruption was a consequence of our natural predilection for self-deceit. The chapter considers self-deceit as undermining of self-knowledge in the French Moralists, Thomas Hobbes, and Bernard Mandeville. I conclude with a brief discussion of the consequences of the seventeenth-century and early eighteenth century attack on self-knowledge in a few of the most important philosophers of the eighteenth century: Joseph Butler, David Hume, Adam Smith, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Keywords:   self-deception, self-knowledge, Calvin, David Hume, history of moral philosophy, Joseph Butler, Bernard Mandeville, Rochefoucauld, Pierre Nicole

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