Thursday, January 9, 2020

Arrogance: A Quick Venting

     There are, in this world, persons who know more about a given subject than do I. There are, in this world, persons who’ve given more study and thought to a topic than have I. I know many such persons. I accord them the respect due their erudition. But erudition is trumped by arrogance.

     This is a particularly sore point with me. I’ve suffered a great deal of personal abuse from persons who thought their erudition – in many cases, their claims to erudition – entitled them to deride and dismiss me, or to treat me with contempt. In these closing stanzas of my life I’ve become absolutely unwilling to endure it. This extends to persons who have expressed contempt for those who hold particular opinions that I share.

     Everyone encounters people with whom he differs on some topic. One necessary ingredient of social peace is the tolerance of such differences. That tolerance must embed a willingness to admit that one might be wrong. That willingness is incompatible with a haughty or arrogant attitude toward those of other views. I won’t have it in any facet of my life.

     When I make a carefully-phrased statement of fact, my Gentle Readers may rest assured that it expresses the best knowledge I have on the subject. Even so, I will allow that my “best knowledge” might not be perfect, even on subjects where I fancy myself well-schooled and well-traveled. If you choose to differ with me, I’ll listen politely...right up to the point where you become haughty and arrogant. Moreover, I allow less margin to persons who have offended me in the past, whether or not they’re aware of having done so. Consider it a fault if you like; I doubt it will ever change.

     Finally, far more people think themselves highly intelligent and / or knowledgeable than are objectively justified in thinking so. That’s a bit of insight that takes some years, and some bruises, for most of us to acquire. (Ask any parent with teenaged kids.) This is one of the strongest practical arguments for the cultivation of humility. Verbum sat sapienti.

     I’ll probably be back later with a dollop of the regular crap.



Old joke: "I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken". :D

Being willing to admit you're wrong is the sign of a flexible and alert mind. Understanding you may be so - ahead of time - is also such a sign.

I have changed my mind on many things; most notable is my move from Left to Right where, often, I'd encounter something that was dissonant with what I already believed - and started to ask questions.

Happy almost Friday.

Linda Fox said...

The older I get, the more I'm inclined to say, "Maybe I'm wrong, but...". Then I express my opinion.

In family circles, where the relationship is more important than the issue, I tend to say, "You may be right". At which point, I change the subject. I am NEVER going to change their mind, which is more closed than toddler's mouth when they don't want to take their meds.

Very often, the "victorious" person wants to continue the argument. I have become a Ginza Master of Deflection - I simply refuse to engage. For most, that stops it. For the others, well, I don't have to, nor chose to, spend much time with them.

Occasionally, I've been known to say, "When you actually want to hear what I think, let me know. Otherwise, this discussion is closed."