Some may argue this social media generation does not seem to struggle with loving themselves.
- Some may argue this social media generation does not seem to struggle with loving themselves.
- But is the look-at-me-ism so easily found on TikTok and Instagram the kind of self-love we need in order to flourish?
- The language of positive psychology can be – and often is – appropriated for all kinds of self-importance, as well as cynical marketing strategies.
Philosophy and self-love
- Psychology researcher Li Ming Xue and her colleagues, exploring the notion of self-love in Chinese culture, claim “Western philosophers believe that self-love is a virtue”.
- In the Christian tradition and in much European philosophy, says philosopher Razvan Ioan, self-love is condemned as a profoundly damaging trait.
- In particular, Aristotle.
- Read more:
Friday essay: 3 ways philosophy can help us understand love
Bar too high?
- Aristotle might set the bar too high.
- Many psychologists claim self-love is important for adopting the kind and compassionate self-perception crucial for overcoming conditions that weaponise self-criticism, like clinical perfectionism and eating disorders.
- For this reason, a compassionate form of self-love is often necessary to follow Socrates’ advice to “know thyself”, says philosopher Jan Bransen.
Self-love ‘misguided and silly’
- His ideas are mostly rejected by philosophers of love, but pointing out where they go wrong can be useful.
- When you love someone, he said, you’re prepared to sacrifice your own interests for those of your beloved.
- But he thought the idea of sacrificing your own interests made no sense – which shows, he concluded, we can’t love ourselves.
- In pop culture, love is often depicted as a willingness to sacrifice, but ancient philosophers took a different view
- We might need this self-compassion, too, in order to admit our failures – so we can overcome our defensiveness and see clearly how we’re failing to fulfil these interests.
- Self-love, as promoted by contemporary psychologists, means standing in a compassionate relationship to ourselves.
- It promotes comfort with the kind of critical self-assessment that helps us grow – which leads to resilience.
Ian Robertson does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.