When the Mirror Cracks: Well-Being, Moral Responsibility, and the Post-Colonial Soul

Grant Gillett


The human psyche (soul) is jointly created by the actual world and the “mirror image of the world” (Wittgenstein). Culture creates a mirror of the world by constituting layers of discursive connection in which we are all immersed and which engender lived human experience. Lacan uses “the mirror phase” to unravel the development of human identity and self-conception and locate in it many roots for the psychological characteristics seen in adult life. When the mirror crack’d from side to side for the lady of Shallot, her world began to unravel. A post-colonial setting fractures the indigenous mirror of life such that the broken image is at the heart of the alienation that results has damaging effects on the moral being of those belonging to a colonised culture as they try to articulate their lived experience. The fracture disconnects meanings, myths of origin and destiny, cultural icons and the discourses in which connections to place are affirmed by treating them as unreal and irrelevant to modern life. Colonisation is therefore potentially destructive to identity, self-worth, and the moral being of a colonised people because connections between self-worth and the roots of being have been disrupted in ways that are difficult to articulate. That results in deep wounds alienating self from world and undermining the informed dialogue that creates social and personal responsibility.


Post-colonialism; Alienation; Moral responsibility; Identity

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/6457


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