In Hamlet, Polonius tells his son Laertes:
"This above all: to thine own self be true,/And it must follow, as the night the day,/Thou cans't not be false to any man "
What do you think, is this good advice or not?
I've recently come across the blog of Alexander Pruss, a philosopher out of Baylor and enjoyed it enough to add to my rss reader. He has a post on this very issue, where he exegetes and interrogates Polonius's words and he questions the wisdom of such a statement, while giving at least one instance of where the statement can be correct. Along the way he has some good thoughts on vocation and calling and what it means to be human. The only thing I would add to his discussion is that a few words on the noetic effects of sin would also bear on the discussion.
He begins as follows:
We sometimes hear people justifying not doing an action by saying: "I am just not that sort of person." Taking this literally, and perhaps we shouldn't, the idea is that the speaker is a certain sort of person, and she should be true to that.
But why? Why be true to ourselves? How is the fact that I have a character that inclines me to act in a certain a good reason for acting in that way? There is, indeed, a danger of an is-ought slide here. I am a certain way, but ought I be that way? Yes, it may be easier to act in accordance with character, so there may be a reason of convenience there. But when people say "I am just not that sort of person", they do not mean that the action is inconvenient.