Pride – Or the pain of being wrong September 21, 2015Posted by rm42 in Philosophy.
Continuing with this series about how do we obtain knowledge and things that get in the way of us doing that, I’d like to say a few words about pride. Pride has to do with self esteem. Of course, one should have a healthy measure of pride. Otherwise, we could become victims of low self esteem, which in turn leads to a whole other set of problems. But, pride can become destructive when we start to think more of ourselves than we should. And the reason I bring this up is that pride can get in the way of our quest for knowledge.
For example, how do you react when faced with the presence of someone that you suspect is more knowledgeable than you? Do you immediately start to feel a dislike for that person? When you see that person gaining the attention of others, do you begin to feel jealous? Do you prefer to walk away? Well don’t. Why don’t you instead grow up?
Of course, I am not saying that you have to suffer trough listening to any and every pseudo-intellectual person you run into. No one likes an arrogant pedant, especially if he likes to talk about things that have nothing to do with you. But, don’t be so quick to shut off someone simply because he/she is intellectually intimidating. Maybe there is something you can learn from that person, something that may help you improve your life. Be brave. Give the person a chance.
Also, don’t be afraid of saying “I don’t know”. There is nothing wrong with that. There is nobody in the world that knows everything about anything. We are all, hopefully, learning. So, if someone asks you a question that you are not sure how to answer, admit it. If an answer is expected of you, a good response would be to say something like, “I’ll have to think about that”. It’s OK.
But, if you already opened your big mouth to give an answer, and you suspect that you are about to be proven wrong, how do you react? Does you pride move you to get out of there as soon as possible? Or maybe you try to drown out the other person by changing the subject, or somehow denying him/her the opportunity to talk? You tell me, what do you do to get out of those situations? The sad thing, is that by doing that you may have just denied yourself the opportunity to grow. And, who knows if that may have been your only chance to grow in that particular point?
Therefore, a little humility is certainly necessary in our quest for knowledge and truth.