from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. Control of one's emotions, desires, or actions by one's own will: "You think yourself a miracle of sensibility; but self-control is what you need” ( Mary Boykin Chesnut).
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. The ability to control one's desires and impulses; willpower.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. Control of one's self; restraint exercised over one's self; self-command.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. Self-command; self-restraint.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. the trait of resolutely controlling your own behavior
- n. the act of denying yourself; controlling your impulses
Recent research suggests that "Willpower" may exacerbate the very problem it is trying to reduce by promoting the idea of self-control as a limited resource.
Kerby Miller, the leading historian of Irish emigrants to North America, notes that Catholic discipline easily merged with American demands: “church teachings, as reflected in sermons and parochial school readers, commanded emigrants and their children to industry, thrift, sobriety, and self-control—habits which would not only prevent spiritual ruin but also shape good citizens and successful businessmen.”
The “wild Irish” were “unstable as water,” while the English exemplified order and self-control.
Dancers were allowed only to exhibit “self-control and self-government” in their movements.
So the Founding Fathers redefined freedom as self-control and built a political system around it called democracy.
Sometimes it takes all my resolution and power of self-control to restrain myself from butting my head against the wall.
It takes way more self-control to get me to the gym than it does even to get me past a blank page, so you have my complete admiration.
Do we as a species have the political will to exercise self-control and to show a bit of humility?
Indeed, Akst betrays a certain contempt for modern science and its insights into self-restraint, as revealed by this statement: "I discovered that the very best guides to weakness of the will held no tenure, had no graduate degrees, and dealt with the problem of self-control without magnetic resonance imaging devices for peering into the skulls of undergraduates."
Akst's tour through Homer and Aristotle and Plato and Socrates is fairly entertaining, but one doesn't come away with much that's helpful in dealing with the dilemma of self-control.