The idea of the self is immediately familiar to everyone, yet elusive to define and understand. From pioneering researcher Roy F. Baumeister, this volume synthesizes a vast body of knowledge to provide a panoramic view of the human self--how it develops and functions, why it exists, and what problems it encounters on the journey through life. What are the benefits of self-knowledge, and how attainable is it? Do we have one self, or many? What is the relationship of self and society? In 28 concise chapters, Baumeister explains complex concepts with clarity and insight. He reveals the central role played by the self in enabling both individuals and cultures to thrive.