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07/24/2014

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Jason Chen

I totally agree with you, and I've experienced the same thing. I think it was Aristotle who said that it's easier for other people to see your virtues, and I think the same is true with vices. I personally have learned a great deal by hearing my friends' and family's perspective on my behavior.

Anthony Carreras

Aristotle argues that good friendship provides a kind of second-personal self-viewing (since friends are "other selves"). A classic piece on this is John Cooper's “Friendship and the Good in Aristotle”, Philosophical Review 86 (1977) 290–315. You should check it out, Marcus, if you haven't already. I bet you would enjoy it.

Marcus Arvan

Jason & Anthony: Thanks for your comments! I hadn't thought of those parts of Aristotle, and will definitely check out that Cooper piece in Phil Review!

I'm tentatively thinking, though, that it would be good to harness Aristotle's idea through getting ourselves to engage in second-personal *self*-viewing--for although friends may provide useful character feedback to us through second-personal interaction, one of the most difficult things for us to do is to appreciate how they see us! It's one thing for one's spouse or friends to give you feedback...it's another thing to actually experience yourself as they do. This is what I thought was so cool about the "Moon" film. I couldn't help but think to myself, "How many people would think they were jerks--and be more motivated to change their behavior--if they directly experienced themselves in a second-personal way." In my experience--again, both in sports, but also in terms of people seeing videos of how they behave--that these kinds of experiences are really powerful. "I can't believe *that's* how I look", is one of the most common things you hear from people when watching themselves on film. They pick up all kinds of subtle habits, gestures, etc., that they have little to no introspective awareness of. And I suspect the motivational impact of such experiences might be pretty powerful!

Regina Rini

I hope it won't be overly self-promoting if I point out that I've been working on issues very close to what you talk about here. I've argued that we gain a valuable form of self-knowledge from seeing ourselves through the lens of experimental psychology, and that this knowledge can be directed toward improving our moral thinking and behavior.

Part of my approach is in this paper:
http://philpapers.org/rec/RINMPN

A more comprehensive overview is in this interview with Philosophy Bites:
http://philosophybites.libsyn.com/regina-rini-on-the-moral-self-and-psychology

Incidentally, that interview itself is another example of the value of external self-knowledge. Until I listened to the podcast, I never realized that I speak way too quickly!

Marcus Arvan

Hi Regina: Thanks for bringing attention to your work - I can't wait to read it! And don't worry about self-promoting. The Cocoon is a supportive place where people are encouraged to share/promote their work!

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