To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, only by ‘intensifying one’s own individuality’, through precise consciousness of oneself in a sociocultural environment, can one hope to appreciate the individuality of others and thereby approach an understanding: one must look inward in order to see outward; by looking outward one realises one’s inwardness. Here is a necessary and continuous dualism. Far from a narrowly introspective or overly idealistic exercise, then, it is the case that how we conceptually understand ourselves and our
lives-in-society, how we validate our claims to self-knowledge, and how we transpose such knowledge into narrative, are all entirely crucial to our project of apprehending otherness, and, indeed, indistinguishable from it (cf. Stanley 1993:50; also Cohen 1994:136). In Wilde’s words, personality is “an element of revelation” (1913:156; and cf. Chesterton 1936:170).