The notion is that one is believed to be lying regarding something they refuse is true -- or in other words "lying to themselves" really means telling yourself something that isn't true when you know it is.

My questioning is, can you not know a conclusive fact about something, and still be lying about it to yourself unknowingly? Indirectly? Here's an example if this doesn't make enough sense:

A woman has been struggling to get in shape after weight loss. She had just run 2 miles a few weeks ago, but today she went outside and felt little motivation and overall didn't run more than half a mile. She doesn't feel like she couldn't have pushed herself -- more so she feels like motivation was missing, so she stopped. She wonders thereafter, "Did I quit by choice or by weakness?"

In short, she tells herself that she stopped running by her own will -- not by the existing possibility that one could be less fit or capable at that time. If she isn't sure if her lack of motivation prevented her or her fitness, and assumes she quit due to not being interested and not a lack of ability, is she lying to herself? Must one be 100% aware of the fact that they are lying to themselves, or is it indeterminate?

Other factors can apparently cloud one's assurance of something in their mind, which can postulate and make you wonder whether or not inconclusive awareness can affect one's ability to cloud truth and mask it in another way -- or whether or not the actual factors have proven first assumptions.

These kinds of questions may be controversial and used as defense in legal/court proceedings.

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    Akrasia has certainly long been a thorn in the side of theories of rationality. Welcome to philosophy.SE - good question! – Mr. Kennedy Mar 12 '17 at 6:45
  • i dislike "philosophical" questions that are looking to simplify human experience etc., and it seems they can usually be dissolved by thinking that through – user28660 Oct 10 '17 at 23:51
  • See Gettier Problem. – virmaior Jan 10 '18 at 2:43
  • Lying implies the feeling of manipulation and safety due to that the other person is believed (by the lier) to not know the truth. Unless one's conscious is completely split in two personalities, this is impossible with one individual, to lie to own self. However, it is possible to flee, be in the process of flight, from recognizing the truth. This is like closing eyes in attempt not to see which we know is there. So yes, you must be 100% aware of a thing in order to conceal the thing. The tricky question, though, is that there are levels of awareness, some being knowledge, some not. – ttnphns Jan 10 '18 at 11:09

Answers vary, depending on what school of thought the one responding adheres to.

For accuracy, my answer would be a combination of both philosophy and psychology.

It is one of the basic principles of psychology that the self is composed of the "conscious," "subconscious," and the "unconscious." As the name suggests, the conscious is the part of the mind that is, well, conscious. It is the "visible" part of the mind. The thoughts we think are flashed in the conscious part of the brain. It is the "captain" of the ship.

The unconscious, on the other hand, is like the engine room. The unconscious is the storehouse of all our memories, even memories made in infancy (even in fetal stage). Within the unconscious, one can find the deepest drives that, though unknown to the conscious mind, subtly manifest themselves. There are many drives in the unconscious, but to summarize it, there's the "life instinct" and the "death instinct."

The subconscious serve as a gatekeeper of the information from the conscious to the unconscious. It also serves as the gatekeeper of the unconscious drives.

Now, our acts are actually sometimes dictated by the unconscious. Why? Some memories are too difficult, too painful to process for the conscious that the subconscious buries them to the unconscious. In the unconscious, they, too, join the battle of tugging the death instinct or the life instinct. It is the reason why we sometimes just feel a "natural connection" with things, animals, or food, or an irrational aversion to them. Now, the repressed memory would want to surface, but the conscious would not let them. One of the defense of the conscious (or the ego) is further repression, intellectualization, rationalization, sublimation, altruistic surrender, etc.

Yet, we may not be fully aware that we are already doing sublimation or altruistic surrender or intellectualization. The ego does what it does to protect itself.

Still, however, we may become aware of them through deep self-introspection or through psychoanalysis. Nietzsche believes that even though the self is continually changing, constant introspection will still allow us a deeper insight into ourselves.

Furthermore, Nietzche believes that our actions are sometimes motivated by things which we have already forgotten about.

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Memories are true and false puzzle pieces of reality, we think with. When the false puzzle pieces become too many, thinking rationally can be hampered.

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I don't really get the question, which I dislike anyway.

"lying to themselves" really means telling yourself something that isn't true when you know it is

I can quite easily "tell myself" that you didn't make this post. Am I lying to myself? Only, I suppose, you would answer, if I then believe it. It is reasonably common to convince oneself of something that seemed unlikely. Whether or not we can deny what we know is straighforwardly the case.

I can even believe contradictory beliefs; it would be difficult with patently impossible things, but cognitive dissonance is a complex phenomena. Maybe at times I believe you made this post, and at other times I do not.

But anyway, you go on:

can you not know a conclusive fact about something and still be lying about it to yourself unknowingly.

We can't lie and say that Anne Frank isn't here anymore, if we don't "believe" that she is. I think varying the question into (not) knowing, rather than believing, would only create further confusion.

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Everything in thought is a comparison.

So, when you say "lying to yourself". There are two possibilities.

1) There is an objective truth of the matter. You tell yourself anything but the objective truth. In that case yes, you would be lying to yourself. Within this possibility again, you might or might not be aware of the objective truth. If you are aware of the objective truth, then there is no way you can lie to yourself and not know that you are lying. If you are not aware of the objective truth, and tell yourself otherwise, then you are lying to yourself without knowing that you are lying to yourself. (Like the example of the woman you gave above).

2) There is no objective truth of the matter. In this scenario, it is really hard to deduce if you are indeed lying to yourself. In fact, it might be impossible to do so. If the only truth is subjective, then from your point of view, the best subject is you, yourself. So whatever you tell yourself will happen to be true.

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It's generally accepted in psychology that a single person can have different levels of consciousness, and that it is quite common to experience mild disassociations in relationship to unpleasant facts or situations. Accordingly, lying to yourself can be considered to be when one part of yourself accepts or is aware of some fact, and another part denies or is unaware of it.

If no part of yourself is aware of the truth, then you are simply wrong (or perhaps deluded).

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