Cultivating an integrated self

Luke Brunning*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter considers two approaches to the idea that, in self-cultivating, people need to integrate the various aspects of their mental life. In section 1, Luke distinguishes between integration of mental states with each other, aimed at avoiding conflicts between such states (‘Structural integration’), and the integration of mental states to a person’s mind writ large, aimed at overcoming forms of alienation or impoverishment (‘Mental Integration’). Structural Integration purportedly underpins the ability to act well and avoid suffering. This view is mistaken, however, and the value of such integration is deeply contingent, as Luke illustrates through a discussion of Michael Smith on the organisation of desire. Moreover, such integration is compatible with a deeply defensive form of mental life which most people would reject, as Luke argues in his discussion of projective identification: a mental defence mechanism observed by psychoanalysts. In building on this psychoanalytic focus, Luke argues that there is a viable category of Mental Integration ideals of the cultivated self, which aim to overcome the defensiveness that distances someone from aspects of their mental life.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEthics and Self-Cultivation
Subtitle of host publicationHistorical and Contemporary Perspectives
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781351591546
ISBN (Print)9781138104372
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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