on the one hand, character refers to what is essential, and unchanging about the individual-what is characteristic of him. on the other, it refers to attributes that can be generated and destroyed during fateful moments. in this latter view the individual can act so as to determine the traits that will thereafter be his; he can act so as to create and establish what is to be imputed to him. every time a moment occurs, its participants will therefore find themselves with another little chance to make sth of themselves.
thus a paradox. character is both unchanging and changeable. anf yet that is how we conceive it.
it should be no less clear that our illogic in this matter has its social value. social organization everywhere has the problem of ‘morale’ and ‘continuity’. individuals must come to all their little situations with some enthusiasm and concern, for it is largely through such moments that a social life occurs. and if a fresh effort were not put into each of them, society would surely suffer……here the need is for rules and conventionality. individuals must define themselves in terms of properties already accepted as theirs, and act reliably in terms of them. [page 238]
to satisfy the fundamental requirements of morale and continuity, we are encouraged in a fundamental illusion. it is our character. a something entirely our own that does not change, but is none the less precarious and mutable. possibilities regarding character encourage us to renew our efforts at every moment of society’s activity we approach, especially its social ones. [page 239]