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Self-Deception and the Common Life

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Lloyd H. Steffen

Self-Deception and the Common Life investigates the topic of self-deception from three points of view: philosophical psychology, ethics, and theology. Empirical evidence and an «ordinary language» analysis support the case that the linguistic expression 'self-deception' is literally meaningful and that the language of the common life can be trusted. After critically analyzing the cognition, translation, and action accounts, along with the contributions of Freud and Sartre, Steffen proposes a new synthetic «emotional perception» account, one that avoids paradox. Giving attention to relevant moral issues, he argues that self-deception is not immoral, but represents a peculiar form of akrasia. Finally, because theologians employ 'self-deception' to describe the cognitive component of sin, Steffen considers the logic of theological self-deception. His study seeks an «intimate acquaintance» with self-deception and exemplifies a method of analysis relevant to constructive theological inquiry.
Contents: «Ordinary language» analysis of self-deception – Accounts: cognition, translation, action, Sartre, Freud, «emotional perception» – self-deception and akrasia – theological self-deception: sin, pride, and Kierkegaard's «sin is despair».