What is humility?

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    • #28707

        I just don’t understand how humility could be considered a virtue. It just does not make sense to me.


        “Humility is the quality of being humble.[1] Dictionary definitions accentuate humility as a low self-regard[2] and sense of unworthiness.[3] In a religious context humility can mean a recognition of self in relation to a deity (i.e. God), and subsequent submission to that deity as a member of that religion.[4][5] Outside of a religious context, humility is defined as being “unselved”, a liberation from consciousness of self, a form of temperance that is neither having pride (or haughtiness) nor indulging in self-deprecation.[6][7]”

        “Humility, in various interpretations, is widely seen as a virtue which centers on low self-preoccupation, or unwillingness to put oneself forward, so it is in many religious and philosophical traditions, it contrasts with narcissism, hubris and other forms of pride and is an idealistic and rare intrinsic construct that has an extrinsic side.”

        Humility derives from the Latin word humilis, meaning “grounded” or “from the earth”.

        I just don’t understand why this could be considered a virtue. Humility as a virtue is often contrasted with pride, which is considered a vice.

        As far as I am concerned, pride is a virtue too. But the essential problem with humility is that it implies that it is inappropriate to consider oneself in high esteem. There is something really wrong with that.

        I think that an emphasis on humility is missing the point. The real underlying virtue is self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is both prideful and humble. One should take pride in one’s accomplishments and humble in one’s ignorance.

        But I would prefer to split the virtue of self-knowledge away from the illusionary virtue of humility entirely. The essential error is that humility implies a comparison to other people that is pernicious. In that sense, humility is not the opposite of pride, it is arrogance.

        Having self-knowledge is being aware of your strengths and weaknesses. That does not necessarily require a comparison to other people. Self-knowledge is best defined in terms of a “personal best”, not a comparison to others.

        The false virtue of humility is similar to the notion that people have that, when they look up at the stars, they feel insignificant. This is a false comparison. The stars do not make you insignificant and more than looking at an ant makes you powerful. Life is not a zero-sum game of comparisons.

      • #28709

          As I understand it, a virtue is a desirable characteristic or trait that one should have.

          I like the definition present in the text you quote: “humility is defined as being “unselved”, a liberation from consciousness of self, a form of temperance that is neither having pride (or haughtiness) nor indulging in self-deprecation.”

          I would much rather encounter someone who is humble, “unselved”, liberated from a consciousness of self with “a form of temperance that is neither having pride (or haughtiness) nor indulging in self-deprecation.” than someone who is fully self-known, “proud of one’s accomplishments and humble in one’s ignorance.”

          Simply because I don’t really care. Your internal conversation is your business only. If you are proud, good for you! If you are self-deprecating well, unless you are a comedian, I am sorry for you. Pride and self-deprecation just get in the way of  interesting and proficuous conversations, unless it is self-deprecating humor. Only in that case, self-deprecation works really well.

          Your self-knowledge is revealed though, when you exhibit self-control manifested in virtues like patience, temperance, dilligence, kindness, etc.

          I don’t think self-knowledge, being proud on one’s accomplishments and humble in one’s ignorance, are virtues at all.

          In relation to looking at the stars, trying to grasp the vastness of the universe, doesn’t make me feel insignificant. It does the opposite, actually. It makes me feel really special. It makes me realize how ephemerous, precious, unique and fragile beings we all are. That we are absolutely insignificant, taking into account the size of the universe, it’s just a fact, but I do believe we are onto something though…


        • #28710

            Thanks Paul.

            This is an interesting perspective on both humility and virtue in general. I am grateful that you answered me.

            I should mention my background. I was introduced to Ayn Rand’s philosophy when I was 16 and considered myself an Ayn Rander from the time I was 20 until I was 52. Although I don’t agree with a lot of her philosophy anymore, there are some things I still do like. In Objectivism, pride is a virtue.

            But you have presented an interesting insight: in general we either believe ourselves to be virtuous, or at least we strive to be virtuous. And we also want to hang around people we consider to be virtuous in the same way that we do.

            And seen from this perspective, virtue is a matter of taste. Thinking about what you said, I realize that I personally like hanging around people with strong egos – who are quite the opposite of “unselved”. I worked for about 15 years at Bell Labs and AT&T Labs and I came across a number of people who justifiably had a high opinion of themselves. And I liked being with them. These are people who have accomplished things at a world-class level – much more than I have accomplished. They are fun to be around. I was also a member of Mensa back in the 1970s. Again, there was the same caliber of people.

            It does seem, in this case, that virtue is a matter of personal opinion. I have not found pride to get in the way of the accomplished people I have known. Arrogance – yes, but the arrogance of “I’m better than you are” is different from the pride of knowing one is accomplished.

            Your description of the virtues that go with self-knowledge is spot-on. I agree entirely. And I do consider self-knowledge to be a virtue. One of the really fundamental ones.

            So our difference of opinion here leads to the next question. Are there absolute virtues, or are virtues a matter of personal taste?

          • #28712
            JD Stillwater

              Is this a conversation about words, or concepts?

              If you have a different or better word for that feeling—inherent in the experience of awe—that comes from recognizing at a deep emotional level that I am a very small part of something much grander than myself, an experience that goads me to be more cooperative and generous with every one and every thing in my environment, then fine, use your word. In common parlance and in the psyche literature, the word for that feeling is “humility.” Adjacent concepts among awe researchers include “the small self,” “prosocial tendencies” and “awe-prone.”

              I turn that feeling (whatever we call it) into a growthful stance when I enter a conversation willing to be proven wrong, and to learn from the experiences and wisdom of others. It is a powerful tempering influence on dogma, self-righteousness, and arrogance. Science embodies it in the form of null hypotheses, control groups, and peer review. It is easy to recognize in others. It is also easy to recognize the lack of it.

              Ben Shapiro, for one example, may have wonderful self-knowledge, but his lack of what I would call humility is striking and off-putting, and it makes him appear far more ignorant than he probably is. It’s not a good look. It causes him to casually inflict  humiliation on others, people who enter the conversation with less power and privilege.

              If we can agree that there is such an experience (of awe) and stance (of open-heartedness), and that these are highly adaptive within social species like humans, then we can move on to finding the right word for it (or agree to disagree about the semantics).


            • #28713

                Uau! So many great views and perpectives. I don’t know even where to start!

                First let me thank vandermude for presenting Ayn Rand’s philosophy to me. I was completely oblivious to it. It’s a stupendous and rich worldview, apparently so different from the Western Christian perspective. Something which I’ve been searching for so long. Considering myself as a free thinker, I strive for well fundamented opposing views to mine. Very refreshing to know that I now have a lot to read and to learn.

                This also explains why I apparently got entagled in your words. Pride and Humility in Ayn Rand’s philosophy seem to have antagonistic meanings with the Western Christian tradition. From the little I read they seem to refer to different things.

                So, I think JD is absolutely right when asking about if the conversation is about words and concepts.

                A lot needs do be unpacked but just for starters, I would say from what I understood from the little I skimmed from Ayn Rand’s philosophy is that pride is the need to become happy in doing good things as opposed to humility that is the need  for self commiseration, that is, to always feel miserable no matter how you try to do good. In that view, it’s obvious that pride becomes a virtue and humility is bad. However… there is a lot I would like to say more about this perspective. I will postpone it to another time, otherwise I will never finish my response.

                For now, I think JD described it much better, on all accounts, and I feel also very within the view of Religious Naturalism, Thanks JD!

              • #28714

                  I love reading all of these comments, thank you all for sharing your deep, nuanced perspectives on such fundamental aspects of life. I learn a lot from discussions like these and am inspired to throw my own language at the wall to see what sticks.

                  I think the difference in understanding of humility here could come from differing lenses. An individualistic vs communitarian lens. To have humility is an inherently individual virtue, but can look different depending on the context. To me, humility resembles something very similar to the idea that “I am a very small part of something much grander than myself”.

                  I have a love/hate relationship with people that have strong egos. In this context, it is very easy for me to discern those who have humility from those who don’t. What about yourself are you proud of? Are you proud of how smart or beautiful you are, how much money you’ve made, and how much success you’ve had? Or are you proud of the impact you have made, the people you have helped, the community you have fostered, and the life you have helped nurture?

                  I am not yet proud of my career and education accomplishments like many others my age would be. The impact of a lot of my work is not something I am proud of. I am not even necessarily proud of the work and effort it took me to get here. My abilities are a product of my privilege, environment, upbringing and DNA. I am proud of the intentions and motivation behind the continuation of my lifelong education. I am proud and humbled when I give my delivery driver a big tip and come to see that it is an elderly woman delivering my food. I am proud when I make an impact that is grounded in humility, or the idea that “I am a very small part of something much grander than myself.”

                  This makes me think a lot about African philosophy and communitarianism. Perhaps these ideas are for another thread, here is a short article: https://www.ttbook.org/interview/i-am-because-we-are-african-philosophy-ubuntu

                  For me, to act with humility is to put the interests of the community ahead of my own. To recognize that I am superior to no other human and no more deserving of life, but am still entirely unique and have a unique role to play in pushing my community forward. This is what it means to be a human. We only exist because other life has enabled us to. We exist to enable others to exist. To act in self-interest, at the expense of this community, to act without humility, is anti-human. It is anti-life. We are seeing the consequences of these actions unfolding right before our eyes.

                  To act with humility is to be human.

                  • #28721

                      Posted on behalf of vandermude



                      I am intrigued that you had not heard of Ayn Rand before. Her philosophy has been a major part of my life since the beginning of the 1970s so I take for granted that everybody knows her work.

                      She had an incalculable influence on my life. I first got introduced to her work in January 1970. But like I said, I ceased to consider myself an adherent.

                      It is well worth exploring what she has to say, but you must be very, very careful. Her thought and writings are a quasi-religious pseudo-philosophy. I use both of those terms advisedly, not pejoratively – given the technical meanings of religious belief and philosophy, I can back up my claim.

                      One of the best essays about Ayn Rand’s thought and influence I have ever read came from Charles Murray, the author of The Bell Curve:

                      Murray insightfully captures both the strengths and weaknesses of Ayn Rand’s thought.

                      At one time in the mid-1970s I seriously thought of trying to join her inner circle. I was a grad student in computer science at Rutgers in New Jersey. She was still active at the time and living in New York City (she died in 1982). But I knew that I am heterodox enough to have been excommunicated in about 30 seconds if I even bothered to try.

                      In terms of quasi-religion, most religions have a Holy Writ, which is taken as revealed and perfect. This is what has happened to Objectivism under Leonard Peikoff who took over from Ayn Rand. Peikoff and the people associated with him take Ayn Rand’s writing as Revealed Truth, and will not admit to any errors.

                      For a description of pseduophilosophy, see Massimo Pigliucci, an expert on pseudoscience and a professional philosopher:

                      What drew me away from Ayn Rand’s thought was that I realized that she violated her fundamental tenet “You can’t fake reality in any way.” She faked reality all the time. One example is her book “Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal”. A lot of examples in the book were about the railroad Robber Barons of the Gilded Age. Reading up on the late 1800s I realized that she would pick and choose her evidence to fit her argument. This is a classic example of Cargo Cult Science


                      I also realized that, although she considered reason and logic as primary virtues, many of her arguments were not very logical at all. She used a lot of ad hominem arguments and appeals to emotion. One important example was her reasoning about lung cancer from smoking and the field of statistical epidemiology. She actually tried to argue away statistical reasoning as invalid. The ironic thing was that she developed lung cancer from her life-long smoking habit in 1974, which contributed to her death.

                      In that sense her work is pseudophilosophy. It has some interesting ideas, but her reasoning leaves a lot to be desired.

                      For more discussion on this, contact me directly.

                      “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
                      [Kung Fu Monkey — Ephemera, blog post, March 19, 2009]”
                      ― John Rogers
                      as quoted by many people, including Paul Krugman.

                      Antony Van der Mude


                    • #28723

                        Thank you Jack for posting that article on Ubuntu. I had forgotten about that philosophy. I’m glad you brought it to mind.

                        I also think you are spot on with the distinction between individual and communitarian virtues. Curiously, I invert the viewpoint. Pride is an individualistic virtue – it is what keeps us accomplishing things. On the other hand, humility is a communitarian virtue that helps with social cohesion. A society with a lot of unbridled egos running amuck is a recipe for disaster. Kind of like some famous Silicon Valley Bros that come to mind.

                    • #28722

                        Posted on behalf of vandermude


                        My apologies, but I have a number of responses to this thread. I would like to break them up into digestible segments.

                        I like what you had to say about humility when I brought it up in the postings: “RN/language for social change”:

                        You and I have spoken about humility before. I think humility (as I understand it) is essential to any kind of growth or learning. I don’t equate humility with humiliation. Humility’s antonyms include arrogance and pretentiousness. So when you see me use “humility,” please read it as the opposite of arrogance, or as a willingness to learn from one’s mistakes rather than doubling down on them, a willingness to deeply listen to different views, rather than dismissing them unheard. It’s nothing like self-abasement or groveling. It’s a form of courage.

                        This post is not going to address your observations directly – I will answer soon. But your comment made me think about when we had spoken about it before. So I diligently searched through the Religious Naturalism email starting July 26, 2017 and going to the present.

                        Three hours later, here is what we have discussed on the subject through the years. There were 565 posts with the word “humility”. The leaders in humility are: Michael Cavanaugh, JD Stillwater, Terry Findley and Stan Klein. Michael especially.

                        It is interesting to note that the concept of humility is mostly discussed in terms of a humility of knowing – myself included. We seem to be fixated on intellectual humility.

                        Without further ado, here are the major citations:

                        Who is a Religious Naturalist?

                        The spiritual axis entails exploring inward religious responses to the Epic, including awe and wonder, gratitude, assent, commitment, humility, reverence, joy, and the astonishment of being alive at all.

                        On Mar 15, 2017, at 9:59 AM, Michaelcav via RNAnet<RNAnet@googlegroups.com> wrote:
                        But turning to the epistemological, our understanding of thought processes and knowledge processes is more productive, provided only we write “know” with a small “k” and have an attendant attitude of humility.  Of course language-use (and semantics) is part of this, because articulating what we “know” is equally as difficult as knowing it, and intimitately intertwined.  Once we have this humility, however, I think we can say quite a lot about what we know, at least what we know beyond a reasonable doubt (claiming to know absolutely would seem to get us back into the ontological arena, which is why fundamentalisms are so dangerous and so off-putting).

                        On 14 Sep 2017, at 7:49 AM, michaelcav via RNAnet<RNAnet@googlegroups.com> wrote:
                        Colin, Great question.  In legal negotiations one is always looking for middle ground, and I’d suggest one here.  That is to look for the big picture, propose whatever big picture one believes is accurate, even be somewhat evangelistic about one’s (or one’s subculture’s) big picture. But never never believe in it adamantly or absolutely.  Humility is key, by which I don’t mean some sort of milque-toast wishy-washness or even postmodernism, but rather a robust modernism which knows it might be wrong.

                        Michael Cavanaugh
                        Religious Naturalist Association Newsletter
                        October, 2017

                        Growing up without religious naturalism, surrounded by other belief systems, my discomfort (I’m not sure I’d call it “danger” at that point, since I had a basically secure life) came from an internal dissonance, a conviction that my various beliefs did not fit into a well-integrated understanding of the world or myself.  My word for this is integrity, though “cohesive worldview” would also work.
                        Does that protect me? Does it “save” me? Well, I think it does, at least from the dangers of dissonance and/or sloppy thinking.  Maybe a more humble way of saying it is that a religious naturalist worldview “orients” me.  It gives me nature as the touchstone from which to live and breathe and have my being.  Maybe thinking of it as an orientation rather than as salvation also avoids the offsetting danger of smugness.  It allows what some religious thinkers call humility (and I always try to remember the common root of humility, human, and the humus I mix in my gardening soil – they all start with a search for earthy reality, with taking nature to heart).

                        Steven McQuitty:
                        > “The Humanist tradition holds that we must act in accordance with our common humanity, realizing the dignity AND humility inherent in that position.”

                        Humanist Manifesto II

                        Humanist Manifesto 2

                        Humanist Manifesto II

                        But reason must be tempered by humility, since no group has a monopoly of wisdom or virtue.

                        Terry Findley 171206
                        Hopeful Values
                        Meaning Need = Humility – our place in nature

                        On Sept. 28, 2016, JD Stillwater wrote:
                        • We accept the inherent ambiguities and paradoxes that often accompany truth, and allow them to lead us into contemplation and humility, even reverence;

                        On Friday, May 25, 2018 at 12:06:33 PM UTC-4, tmcalster wrote:
                        In recognizing that, alongside the many things we’ve learned and accomplished, there remains a lot that we don’t yet understand (and, that some of what we think we know may be later be shown to be partly or wholly incorrect)

                        On Thu, Jul 26, 2018 at 2:53 PM, Jeremy Sherman <jersher6@gmail.com>wrote:
                        Obverse psychology: Every move has its obverse (opposite, e.g. scorn/tact, carrots/sticks, confidence/humility, offense/defense, firmness/receptivity). No one really abandons any of these. They just pretend they do when it helps. Pretending they do stunts growth on the question we’re all dealing with really, when to do which to achieve the best consequences for some mixture of me and we.

                        On 6/5/2019 10:17 AM, michaelcav via RNAnet wrote:
                        I do realize this beginning place could open the door for a dogmatism we’d desperately like to avoid. But to me that should be done directly, by acknowledging that “foundations” are themselves subject to re-working, and by acknowledging our humility in using them in the first place. We aren’t making a claim of certainty, but only trying to start our structure with someplace that seems firm.

                        Tony Van der Mude
                        Quotation by Bertrand Russell
                        Mysticism and Logic and Other Essays:
                        The good which it concerns us to remember is the good which it lies in our power to create—the good in our own lives and in our attitude towards the world. Insistence on belief in an external realisation of the good is a form of self-assertion, which, while it cannot secure the external good which it desires, can seriously impair the inward good which lies within our power, and destroy that reverence towards fact which constitutes both what is valuable in humility and what is fruitful in the scientific temper.

                        This is the most important reason why I want to use statistics. Not just as a tool for comparison, but as a reminder of humility. We will never reduce morality and wellbeing to a single metric. We will also never achieve certainty in our meta-theory. Just like science, we can accumulate understanding, but never certainty.

                        Colin Offerment
                        I think “humility” is an important word here. An event like this is a challenge to human pride, and I hope the global village will lean humility from it.

                        Michael Cavanaugh RNA Newsletter December 2020
                        That said, what might 2021 bring? An effective vaccine is of course our first wish, and an economy that recovers our second. But there is so much more we need, which may come of this destruction if we choose wisely. Our human institutions need re-visiting and re-furbishing and in some cases re-working entirely. Our understanding of such concepts as xenophobia and humility and cooperation need deepening.

                        Chris Paige
                        8/3/2021 – 8/6/2021
                        Yet, I believe that both the climate crisis and Religious Naturalism would benefit from more of a focus on non-dogmatic approaches to “belief,” an emphasis on non-linear practices, and a devotion to humility in relationship with all that is (including living humans). I believe that there is a longing in many of us who emerge from Western epistemologies for something more non-dogmatic that better integrates mystery.

                        But to me, the power isn’t in the experiment. It’s in the humility and in shifting from a supremacist modality around  “possession, control, and mastery” toward a modality that is more around story and relationship.

                        The destination for this RNA bridge seems itself like a kind of process. To my mind,  this process (needs to) emphasizes scientific humility, religious humility, and cultural humility which allows for some vulnerability and uncertainty in our midst.

                        JD and Tony
                        > The bottom line for me is summed up nicely in this cartoon, except the speech bubble might say “Just keep innovating and all will be well.” In the absence of any sense of “enough,” ever-larger waves of destruction will continue to visit until we learn humility or go extinct.
                        —> No, I will never be satisfied with enough. And I don’t consider humility a virtue (neither is hubris a virtue for that matter). For me, true virtue is a realistic appraisal of what we can do and what we can’t and that is not humility by any means: that is a radical honesty. And I don’t expect that we will face destruction. I expect that we will honestly face our problems and fix them. That may lead to other problems, but – and I can’t emphasize this enough – the advances and conveniences will far outweigh the problems.

                        Ursula Goodenough
                        One can have an honest appraisal of one’s strengths/abilities without exaggerating their importance in the grand scheme of things and hence experiencing humility wrt such abilities/strengths. I believe this was Janet’s meaning.

                        Denigrating the creative egotistical individual is not the answer. To create, you have to believe in yourself. That is inconsistent with humility. It is, at best, a false humility.
                        I agree – don’t exaggerate your own importance or abilities. But false humility is just as bad. Be humble about your weaknesses, but not your strengths.
                        Be honest about yourself. Neither arrogance nor humility. Know yourself.

                        > To create, you have to believe in yourself. That is inconsistent with humility.
                        I don’t see humility and self-esteem as zero-sum. Ursula addressed this well: “One can have an honest appraisal of one’s strengths/abilities without exaggerating their importance in the grand scheme of things and hence experiencing humility wrt such abilities/strengths.” I’d say humility comes with an accurate assessment of one’s place in the universe. It’s the opposite of arrogance, but completely compatible with a healthy ego/self-esteem.

                        Mark Iredell
                        For me it’s enough to leave the undetected as a mystery for which someday we can have an explanation. Accepting the mystery for the moment can be part of our humility. 😉

                        On Thu, Aug 26, 2021 at 8:28 AM JD Stillwater <jdstillwater@gmail.com> wrote:
                        Tony mentioned awe. Psych researchers who study the feeling of awe assert that it (often? always?) includes an experience they call “the small self.” I made an in-depth study of the awe literature last fall for a chapter in my book. Here are some notes I took then, some of which are relevant to humility and others of which are just, well, awesome. I haven’t curated them; they are raw notes:

                        Allen/Templeton/GGSC 2018: “The science of awe“
                        People who are less comfortable with ambiguity, on the other hand, appear to be less likely to experience awe. Other studies suggest that wiser people may also experience more awe, and one’s tendency to experience awe is correlated with a number of other positive character traits, such as appreciation of beauty, creativity, and gratitude.“
                        The study of awe only began in 2002. It is a very recent field of study for psychologists.
                        Effects of awe:
                        Increased parasympathetic response (rest & digest), except for increased respiration, which is sympathetic (fight or flight)
                        Decreased inflammatory response (Interleukin-6)
                        Small self

                        Mark Hoelterr
                        I like Brian Swimme’s title: “The Universe Is a Green Dragon.” At first it seems meaningless or absurd. Then he explains (paraphrasing): “Well, it is, but my point is that all our models are partly right, partly wrong. Take any of them, even the best, very, very, very seriously. But not too seriously.” This involves humility, yes, and/or Jeremy Sherman’s favored word: fallibilism. I might be wrong.

                        Jeremy Sherman
                        To me, the core religious naturalist question is how to humbly humble people who will do anything to avoid humility. This book is my attempt to address that question.

                        Michael Cavanaugh
                        RNA newsletter July 2022
                        So what exactly is an open mind? According to the OpenMind website, an open mind is one that:
                        – has a basic understanding of its own workings and limitations
                        – recognizes how differing opinions and beliefs are formed
                        – has a sense of humility regarding its own beliefs and opinions
                        – welcomes diverse perspectives …

                        Michael Cavanaugh
                        How do you distinguish between various concepts, or do you hold them all in equal humility?

                        Merrill Hawkins
                        I think I might have reason right there next to the phrase, “reality based inspiration.” Reason is essential to that. And faith could be one of those concept words in the inner circle, along with humility. Maybe faith/trust as an attitudinal response (as opposed to cynicism/despair).

                        I was also big on alliteration, thus “Dogma/Doubt” and “Hubris/Humility.” That horizontal spectrum does indeed reflect my bias against unwarranted or premature certainties. But it’s definitely time to revisit that in a less biased way.

                        On Tue, Dec 20, 2022 at 8:40 AM ‘Michael Cavanaugh’ via RNAnet<RNAnet@googlegroups.com> wrote:
                        JD, I propose that a one-word substitute for “embraces ambiguity” is “humility.”

                        ChatGPT 230603
                        In embracing religious naturalism, we find ourselves on a path of constant inquiry, seeking to understand the world around us and our place within it. It encourages a sense of humility, recognizing that we are but a small part of the vast cosmic tapestry.

                        JD 230607
                        Tony mentioned awe. Psych researchers who study the feeling of awe assert that it (often? always?) includes an experience they call “the small self.” I made an in-depth study of the awe literature last fall for a chapter in my book. Here are some notes I took then, some of which are relevant to humility and others of which are just, well, awesome. I haven’t curated them; they are raw notes:

                      • #28730

                          Posted on behalf of vandermude

                          Well, after thinking about it, I do feel that self-knowledge is a better term than humility. I don’t know much about Ben Shapiro, but in general self-knowledge is a good thing.

                          What I don’t care about is the concept of humility in sense of being low. This is related to the idea of selflessness, which I don’t think is a good thing either. This is something that you express JD. You mention it as part of the feeling of awe. I know that a lot of people have this feeling of smallness, but personally I just don’t get it. It just feels weird to me.

                          So I don’t have a better word than humility for the feeling of being small. But I can’t consider that a positive emotion – certainly not a virtue.

                          I am surprised that most of the discussion about humility on the discussion group mostly applied to intellectual humility. Even I used humility in that sense.

                          As to the notion of a “growth stance”, I enter into a conversation willing to be proven wrong not out of any sense of smallness, but out of a sense of intellectual honesty. This is better captured in the ancient Greek concept of “Know thyself”


                          The metaphor that better captures this is not one of size and smallness, but of adventure and journey. There is so much I do not know. I am ignorant in so many ways. But like Calvin said to Hobbes in the last cartoon: “It’s a magical world, Hobbes ol’ buddy … Let’s go exploring”.


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