Pride and humility

Brady, M. S. (2020) Pride and humility. In: Alfano, M., Lynch, M. P. and Tanesini, A. (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Humility. Series: Routledge handbooks in philosophy. Routledge: Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY, pp. 106-116. ISBN 9780815364115 (doi: 10.4324/9781351107532-12)

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Humility is held to be more valuable, more morally praiseworthy, than pride. This raises a puzzle. For there are considerable similarities between pride and humility. Both involve a relation to something that is good or valuable; both have an ‘appraisal structure’ that reflects this relation; and both function to communicate this relation to others. Given this, those who think humility is more valuable than pride face the problem of explaining this difference in our rankings of them. In this paper I’ll argue that a number of recent attempts to explain what humility is fail on this account. I’ll then suggest that a more plausible solution can be found if we locate the relevant difference in how these emotions are expressed, and in particular in the respective demands that such expressions make on us. We’ll see that whereas the communication of pride requires us to esteem and give deference to the proud person, the communication of humility permits, but does not require, such an attitude. Because of this, humility allows us to bestow gifts of esteem on the humble person, in a way which we find agreeable, but also in a way that itself expresses respect for our freedom. As a result, we not only find humility more agreeable than pride; it also seems to embody a more valuable (because more respectful) motive.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Brady, Professor Michael
Authors: Brady, M. S.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Philosophy
Published Online:07 July 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Contributor
First Published:First published in The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Humility: 106-116
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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