Self-Pity as Resilience against Injustice

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This paper proposes that being able to feel self-pity is important to be resilient against injustices because it enables self-transformation. The suggestion for this reassessment of self-pity as a crucial self-conscious emotion for a more humanistic world aims to be an example of how philosophical reflection can be insightful for emotion research. The first part of the paper outlines a general introduction of philosophy of emotions and a description of how Hume’s analysis of pride changed its meaning and pertinently linked it to human agency. The second part of the paper is devoted to self-pity and aims to offer a modified interpretation of its experience, ultimately suggesting that it is a way to cultivate resistance and endure injustices in the world. It begins by putting forward the generally accepted take on self-pity and then suggests that dismissing self-pity may increase its duration, and ultimately work as a type of denial of the world’s injustices. After describing how self-pity can be seen as a tour de force where the self is in a relationship of pity with itself, it further elaborates how self-pity may be taken as a type of calibration similar to how sleep works for the functioning organism. This makes it possible to interpret self-pity as a way to resiliently resist injustices while not dismissing them and keeping up the struggle to make the world a better place. Finally, the concluding remarks point out some consequences for the education of emotions and possible future research directions to be explored. Analogously to the undeniable way by which Hume changed the meaning of the emotion of pride, the conclusion hopes that a new way to understand self-pity is available. The overall goal is to amplify the already existing psychological descriptions showing the complementary role of philosophical research for the development of emotion research in general.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • Emotions
  • Hume
  • Înjustice
  • Pride
  • Self
  • Self-pity
  • Transformation


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