§ 3. The One Self and the Many Selves. — All self-consciousness implies a division of the total Self. When I think about myself, the I and the myself are never quite identical. The Self of which I have an idea is always distinguished from the Self which has the idea. As Professor Royce observes, "I can question myself, and wait for an answer; can reflect upon my own meaning; can admire myself, love myself, hate myself, laugh at myself; in short, do or suffer in presence of my own states and processes whatever social life has taught me to do or surfer in presence of the states and processes of others." My total Self includes the whole succession of my personal experiences ; and it therefore includes that special phase of conscious life in which I think of myself. But this special phase at the moment of its existence cannot itself be part of the object of which it is aware. Of course, even the present moment of self-consciousness is usually identified as part of the total series of personal experiences; but the identification involves a distinct phase of conscious process, and includes as part of its object both the I and the myself involved in the primary self-consciousness.
There is yet another way in which the total Self is necessarily broken up into a number of partial selves. The lifehistory of the individual consciousness embraces a multitude of very diverse and often incongruous states and tendencies. At any moment of self-conscious reflexion, attention is usually fixed on one or other of these special modes of experience. In so far as they differ from each other, and from the present Self which is thinking about them, there is a tendency to regard them as if they were relatively distinct selves. Thus a man, when sober, reflecting on his conduct and on his mental attitude when drunk, can hardly recognise himself as the same person. In fact, he is apt to say, "I was not myself," or, "I was not quite myself at the time." The Self of our dreams is usually sharply distinguished from the Self of waking life. The waking Self generally refuses responsibility for the thoughts and actions of the dreaming Self. In such instances, the person feels that there is more difference between himself and these special phases of his lifehistory, than there is between himself and other persons. These are extreme cases, but the principle has a wide application. There is always a tendency to refuse to recognise the Self which is overcome by some sudden or exceptional impulse, or transformed by peculiar conditions, as one and the same with the normal Self.
The same antithesis is found not only in reflecting on past states, but also in the moment of present consciousness. When the mind is divided by conflicting impulses, it often appears as if there were two quasipersons in the same individual consciousness, and as if the one were criticising the other, contending or expostulating with it. The analogy of the relations between ourselves and other persons is transferred to the relation between conflicting groups of tendencies within our own consciousness. The best example, perhaps, is the conflict between moral principle and temptation. In such cases one of the two conflicting tendencies is often identified with our true Self, i.e. with the normal flow of thought and action; and the other tendency is regarded as something relatively foreign and intrusive. "If the tendency to the estimated act is a passionate tendency, a vigorous temptation, and if the conscientious judgment is a coldly intellectual affair, then the situation dimly reminds me of cases where other people, authoritative and dignified rather than pleasing, have reproved my wishes. . . . But if, on the other hand, the conceived act is less keenly desired, and if my conscientious plans are just now either fervently enthusiastic or sternly resolute in my mind, then ... I myself am now, in presence of the conceived act, as if judging another."* We must add to the actual past and present selves those which may exist or might exist in the future, or might have existed in the past. There is always an antithesis between ourselves as we are or have been, and ourselves as we wish to be or wish that we had been. It is always possible in reviewing the past to transform the picture of it so as to represent ourselves as thinking, feeling, and acting, not as we have actually thought, felt, and acted, but as, from our present point of view, we should wish to have thought, felt, and acted. We can disregard actual conditions and limitations, and mentally endow ourselves with powers and qualities which we neither possess nor have possessed, and we can imagine situations especially fitted to call them into play, and evoke the admiration of our social environment. Without going to such extremes as this, a man may simply say to himself, "Oh! what a fool I have been! Why did I not work instead of play?" and the like; and he may allow his mind to follow out, by a train of ideal construction, representations of what he would have been in the past, present, and future, if he had acted otherwise. Such ideal constructions are most common in reference to the future, especially in the young. There is a tendency to represent what the Self of the future is to be and do, and what is to happen to it, in its social and other relationships, in accordance with present desires. This is sometimes mere daydreaming; but it may also be of the greatest practical importance; for a man's future, unlike his past, is to a large extent under his own control. By dwelling on the representation of himself as he would wish to be, instead of as he is, a direction is given to his activity, which actually tends to realise his ideal. When the ethical end is said to be selfrealisation, what is meant must be the realisation of a future Self constructed by abstracting from the imperfections and limitations of the present Self.