Personal Ideals as Metaphors

Journal of the American Philosophical Association 3 (3):265-283 (2017)
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What is it to have and act on a personal ideal? Someone who aspires to be a philosopher might imaginatively think “I am a philosopher” by way of motivating herself to think hard about a philosophical question. But doing so seems to require her to act on an inaccurate self-description, given that she isn’t yet what she regards herself as being. J. David Velleman develops the thought that action-by-ideal involves a kind of fictional self-conception. My aim is to expand our thinking about personal ideals by developing another way of understanding them. On this view action-by-ideal involves a kind of metaphorical self-conception. I investigate some salient differences between these views with the aim of understanding the different perspectives they take on the rationality of action-by-ideal. Where the fiction view runs into problems of literary coherence, the metaphor view exploits the richness of poetic invention. But action-by-ideal is a complex phenomenon about which there may be no tidy story to be told. This paper is an attempt to clarify and understand more of this messy terrain.

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Nick Riggle
University of San Diego

Citations of this work

Moral Cultivation: Japanese Gardens, Personal Ideals, and Ecological Citizenship.Julianne Chung - 2018 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 76 (4):507-518.

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References found in this work

What metaphors mean.Donald Davidson - 2010 - In Darragh Byrne & Max Kölbel (eds.), Critical Inquiry. Routledge. pp. 31.
What Metaphors Mean.Donald Davidson - 1978 - Critical Inquiry 5 (1):31-47.
On the aim of belief.David Velleman - 2000 - In The Possibility of Practical Reason. Oxford University Press. pp. 244--81.
Value in Ethics and Economics.Paul Seabright - 1995 - Philosophical Review 104 (2):303.
Self to Self.J. David Velleman - 1996 - Philosophical Review 105 (1):39 - 76.

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