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Self-confidence is a term that is used in several specialist disciplines , such as philosophy , sociology , psychology or history . The term self-confidence has several levels of meaning. There is a self-confidence of the individual, but also a collective group self-confidence.

On the one hand, it is understood to be the active recognition of one's own personality brought about by inner thought processes (self-awareness). The question, “Who or what am I?” Can be answered as a result of this thought process. A passive ascription, the attribution by members of the group who think differently, leads to the recognition and definition of one's own person or personality and contributes to the development of self-esteem .

On the other hand, self-confidence describes something that is called self-confidence or self-assurance in English . Confidence means "trust, confidence"; assurance means "certainty, security, trust". A self-confident person feels these four things to such an extent that he is relatively optimistic, fearless, carefree and carefree about his future, i.e. with a well-developed self-confidence .

In general, self-confidence is defined as “being convinced of one's abilities, of one's worth as a person, which is particularly expressed in self-confident demeanor”.

Colloquial use of terms

Self-awareness means being aware of oneself .

Colloquially, self-confidence is usually understood as the positive feeling of value of a person or a group in a social value context. Self-confidence is therefore often used synonymously for the term self-worth .

Self-confidence is always related to a horizon of values ​​and - in an appreciative or non-appreciative way - an evaluative environment: In the first case, self-confidence is determined by characteristics and abilities that more or less correspond to the generally applicable values. Whoever feels recognized for them is self-confident. Here, self-consciousness means a usually pre-critical social self-esteem, which one has or does not have, and which can be increased or, in the case of failure, decreased by appropriating socially desirable qualities (such as collective consciousness, self-determination and personal responsibility) or skills. However, those who face the value-conforming group as an individual are also considered to be particularly self-confident .

The affirmative (positive) connotation in the general usage of the term obscures the pure sense of the word: Because a mode of self-confidence in this sense would not only be pride , but also shame .

Self-confidence in philosophy

According to Kant

Self-confidence arises through observation and reflection of oneself or, to put it another way: of one's self , one's own personality. The self-observing is at the same time object and subject . Kant : "'I am an object of intuition and thought to myself' is a synthetic a priori sentence and the principle of transcendental philosophy ." (Lectures on metaphysics ).

"The synthetic proposition: that everything different empirical consciousness must be connected in one self-consciousness is the absolutely first and synthetic principle of our thinking in general." ( Critique of Pure Reason )

After Hegel

In one of his most important philosophical writings, the Phenomenology of Spirit , especially in the famous chapter “ Independence and Dependency of Self-Consciousness; Domination and bondage ”explains Hegel that self-confidence develops as a result of recognition by the other and is formed or transformed in dependence on someone opposite. The servant is compelled to work for the master who enjoys the fruits of labor and thereby persists in the naturalness of his existence . The servant, on the other hand, transforms his own and external nature by working with things. He gets to know himself through work and develops a self-confidence from it. Hegel describes self-confidence as the sum of the experience of the dialectic of independence and dependence , figuratively also in the form of a conflict for recognition between master and servant.

“I am the content of the relationship and the relation itself.” And
"In the consciousness that reflects on itself, subject and object are equal." (Phenomenology of Spirit)


  • J.-L. Bermúdez: The Paradox of Self-Consciousness. MIT Press, Cambridge MA 1998.
  • W. Brauner: The pre-reflective Cogito. Sartre's theory of immediate self-confidence in comparison with Fichte's self-confidence theory in the Jena science teachings. Herbert Utz Verlag, Munich 2007.
  • M. Frank (Ed.): Analytical Theories of Self-Consciousness. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1994.
  • M. Frank (Ed.): Self-confidence theories from Fichte to Sartre. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1991.
  • M. Frank: Self-confidence and self-knowledge. Reclam, Stuttgart 1991.
  • D. Henrich: Self-confidence: Critical introduction to a theory. In: F. Bubner (Ed.): Hermeneutics and Dialectics. Part I, Tübingen 1970, DNB 456967257 , pp. 257-284.
  • Björn Kralemann: Environment, Culture, Semantics - Reality. (= Understanding consciousness. Volume 1). Leipziger Universitätsverlag, Leipzig 2006, ISBN 3-86583-136-2 .
  • D. Papineau: Thinking about Consciousness. Oxford UP, Oxford / New York 2002.
  • Wolfgang Prinz, Jürgen Schröder: Even in the mirror. The social construction of subjectivity. Suhrkamp, ​​Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-518-58594-8 .
  • Winfrid Trimborn: The betrayal of the self. On the violence of narcissistic defense . In: Psyche . tape 57 , no. 11 , 2003, p. 1033-1056 .
  • E. Tugendhat: Self-Awareness and Self-Determination. Language analytical interpretations. 1979.


  1. Duden, the German spelling: "Self-confidence"

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Self-confidence  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations