Pride, Arrogance, Rudeness, etc.


SUNDAY, May 10, 2009

When I’d published this post the last time around, I wasn’t completely satisfied with the outcome. Moreover, after researching a bit on the internet, I found better distinctions between the terms, and thought it necessary to include few more confounding terms. I’ve retained the original post at the end of the edited version, so that others’ comments don’t seem out of context. So now I’m updating my post with the further knowledge that I’ve gained.

We all unknowingly have our own definitions even for the most common terms. Many times, how one uses a word is also reason enough to create misunderstandings. Once in a while, it’s good to try to come to a concrete definition of words we use. In one of my replies to a blogger, I realized that I had a very firm idea of pride, but that was different from hers. In my system of thoughts pride is not at all an evil. Rather, I’ve come to associate basic pride–the way one leads one life–such a prerequisite, that without it I’d really consider anyone’s life really miserable. But the contention from the other side was that it does not take much for pride to turn into conceit and rudeness. Whereas, I’ve been so sure that somehow pride could never lead to rudeness. Then it struck me! Our definitions of pride were really disparate. So, let me try to define pride (the way I use it) and some related terms.


Pride. When you’re aware of some of your ability and happy to possess it, that’s pride. You think of that ability as a natural part of you. Like you can write, speak, walk, but are not constantly aware of possessing these abilities. The only thing that makes one proud of an ability is the knowledge that it’s somewhat rare. You may have not been used to possessing that ability in the first place, but gradually you get “used to” your ability, and it comes to your mind only when circumstances demand the use of that ability, but what persists is the subcounscious memory that realization of possession of that ability had made you happy. And once you get used to it, you don’t think about the degree to which it is rare among other people. If you encounter someone less able in the same sphere of life, you don’t overlook that ability’s presence. The need to constantly compare one’s ability with others’ vanishes. In simplest words, you just assimilate that ability, and it becomes a part of you. So, even if you encounter someone better than you in the chosen trait you won’t feel insecure. I’d like to point out here though that this definition of pride is largely of psychologists and philosophers (and of course, me!). Religions have not tended to distinguish much between pride and arrogance, and neither do they have (to the limited extent I’ve researched on the internet) a descriptive term for entity I’ve described here as pride. Religious view of arrogance is pride when reflected in one’s conduct.


Arrogance. When you’re aware of some ability that you possess and think that very few other people possess it. Here, the difference is that the ability in question is considered important by you. For instance, if I have a good sense of smell, I won’t be arrogant about it, as I’d consider it pretty trivial. I might not be even proud of it. But say, if I think I’m more intelligent than average people, and also think of intelligence as an important trait, then there’s a chance that this awareness (pride) could transform into arrogance. I think the exact point pride turns into arrogance is when one uses a few of one’s traits to make a sweeping conclusion to the effect that “on account of those abilities, I’m a better person (than some other person). I’m more important to this world”. Thus arrogance is relative. I could be arrogant with a person less educated than me, but not with someone better educated. This way, I could be insecure in presence of someone better than me in the ability in question. But I could be equally proud of having beautiful handwriting both before people with worse as well as better handwriting than me. For, pride is absolute. Additionally, when a person is arrogant about certain ability, they’re more likely to employ that ability even when not required. This is not because they’d want to demonstrate that ability to others, but because they can’t get the awareness of that ability out of their consciousness and tend to think of presenting circumstances as means towards using that ability as an end, rather than other way round. Arrogance also makes a person expect it as natural for others to notice and appreciate their ability [I’d found this idea on some other blog that I don’t remember], whereas feeling pride would be an extremely private affair not requiring any external reinforcement.


Pride v/s Arrogance. If I’m arrogant about certain abilities, and even if I retain my objectivity to consider some other person’s abilities as good as mine, I’ll only tend to classify people as less able, or equally able, or more able than me. I’ll think it unimportant to try to make out as to who among the two less able than me, is more able. But if I’m proud of certain abilities, I’ll not be so obsessed with my own abilities and not overlook totally others’ abilities. I’ll acknowledge others’ abilities, too even if less impressive than mine. If I’ve to put it in most simple fashion possible, being proud of one’s abilities is like getting used to one’s clothes. You know you possess them (abilities), but don’t think of them all the time. Whereas, arrogance of an ability is like wearing new clothes (and wanting to wear them again and again!), constantly thinking about them, and then constantly being conscious if others are noticing them!


Self esteem. While, pride and arrogance could be restricted to specific abilities, self esteem is the estimate of one’s worth on the whole as a person. Thus, one could hold oneself in high or low esteem. Needless to say, one’s overall estimate of one’s worth is bound to be a composite of what one thinks of one’s individual abilities and the respective significance of those abilities. Both people who’re proud or arrogant of a large number of abilities would thus possess high self esteem. In contrast, low self esteem would stem from lack of such convictions.


Conceit. It is overestimating one’s abilities and/or self worth. If this overestimation leads to arrogance, the person would end up making fool of themselves, and that would hurt their self esteem very badly. But if they keep it merely to themselves, i.e., if they’re merely proud of it, they’d be proven overconfident, and would be confused if their estimation of their ability was exagerrated or that of difficulty in situation in question was too conservative. But the way I’ve defined pride, it’s unlikely that a person could ingrain it without actually using that ability on multiple occasions, so overestimating one’s ability is unlikely. Conceit could result from both wrongly estimating one’s oneself, or because of flattery.


Vanity. Vanity results when one suspects (rightly or wrongly) to be bereft of a highly desirable ability/quality (though, most often used in context of one’s appearance), but does not acknowledge this doubt honestly to oneself. This self doubt results in a lot of insecurity and exaggerated attempts at concealing the deficiency. The difference in how vanity manifests itself from arrogance, is that vain person would be insecure of the impression they create on others all the time and irrespective of whether their subjects possess more or less of the said quality. And so their behavior would turn out to be same with all the people all the times.


Rudeness. Rudeness is something that totally baffles me. I see it as pointless. And when I’m talking of it being pointless, I’m implying that it is cold-blooded, i.e., indulged in with complete awareness and sometimes, even after a lot of thought!

Rudeness may or may not be related to arrogance about specific abilities. Rudeness as an act could be an outcome of irritation, fear, anger, or even contempt (in which case only benign people–those not in position to harm–are subjected to rudeness!). If you’re vain, you could end up being rude to someone just because they didn’t acknowledge your supreme ability which never was there!

Rudeness as a trait results when one does not consider the others worthy of existence (sic!). Yes, so what gives people the right to think of someone else’s existence as unimportant in comparison with their own? It is at this level maybe some kind of arrogance or vanity are involved. Arrogant people use their superiority to assume the right to insult (because they actually think that person before them is unworthy of breathing the same air as them!). Vain people by being rude try to reinforce their nonexistent supremacy over others (to convince the other and themselves of the former’s unworthiness). Habitually rude people “just assume” that they’re more important. Maybe this trait arises from their being less conducive to a social life. Social, as in a life that entails, sharing (resources) and respecting, basically, acknowledging someone else to be as important as the self, that too in one’s own system of thoughts. So just maybe, we all possess a predilection to rudeness (on account of always placing our “self” before others–we can see the world only from our perspective, so that’s not aberrant at all for our most unadulterated attitude to be “I’m most important”), but most of us by social conditioning learn to empathize (that everyone feels that “I’m most important”) and dilute our importance in social dealings. Some don’t learn, or have a steeper learning curve!


But is it not possible for me to be actually better than some people in terms of parts (i.e., the individual abilities I possess) and also as a whole (as a person, that is)?

Now that is a loaded question, isn’t it? But I think I’ve the ability to do this verbal tight-rope walk 🙂 Everyone says that one should be aware of one’s weaknesses, so by that logic, should one also not be aware of one’s strengths? One should be, most definitely! One should repent and be ashamed of one’s deficiencies and weak moments, they say; then should one not rejoice in one’s abilities and accomplishments? Why be so partial only to the negative feelings of shame and regret? Why not be “balanced”? Look carefully, being free of conceit and arrogance, as well as possessing appropriate pride and good self esteem all require lot of mental hardwork. They entail constant monitoring of one’s own as well as others’ realistic abilities and deficiencies and the challenges posed by life-situations. That mental hardwork is introspection. If after honest assessment if we feel someone that we’re better than someone else in certain ability, so be it! Why be guilty about it. Likewise, why be guilty of actually concluding someone to be incompetent at certain task. Imagine what would happen if we were to allow those with squint to fly planes only because it would be conceited to think they’re incapable of doing so! The premise that we humans cannot objectively assess others’ abilities vis-a-vis our own is a sweeping overgeneralization, and reeks of paranoia of conceit. Even if there is a possibility of misjudgement (of abilities, others’ or our own), realistically, life doesn’t afford us the luxury to do away with it.

To summarize:

Pride = awareness of specific ability + “feeling good” about it + coming to terms with the awareness and the feeling (gradually, relegating them to the subconscious)
Arrogance = awareness of specific ability + “feeling good” about it + being constantly conscious of the ability, and craving for that feeling of exhilaration
Self esteem = Overall assessment (could be low or high) of one’s worth + consequences (pride/arrogance v/s shame/vanity) of such assessment
Conceit = Overestimating one’s ability or overall self-worth
Vanity = Suspicion of being deficient in certain abilities + exagerrated attempts to cover up the deficiency + feeling of intense insecurity
Rudeness = Unwarranted bad behavior. Period.

If one were to consult a dictionary or thesaurus, most of the above terms have been shown to be synonymous with each other. But we know more people consider arrogance to be worse than pride. Likewise, self esteem is thought of as a defensive feeling, as in it is to be called upon only when one’s respect is overrun. In this sense, sense esteem requires initiation by an externa agent, but we know, we can possess self esteem even without involving others. So, this was my attempt at assigning specific meanings to the above terms, and hence, no doubt, they’re my personal opinion, but not without some help from Wikipedia, and a couple of bloggers who I don’t even remember but whose opinions I came across only by googling. No doubt, some readers might find these distinctions artificial or different from theirs. And that’s where (when I get some feedback) the fun begins! 😉

—–

Original Post

Submitted on:
SUNDAY, APRIL 19, 2009

We all unknowingly have our own definitions even for the most common terms. Many times, how one uses a word is also reason enough to create misunderstandings. Once in a while, it’s good to try to come to a concrete definition of words we use. In one of my replies to a blogger, I realized that I had a very firm idea of pride, but that was different from hers. In my system of thoughts pride is not at all an evil. Rather, I’ve come to associate basic pride the way one leads one life such a prerequisite, that without it, I’d really consider anyone’s life really miserable. But the contention from the other side was that it does not take much for pride to turn into conceit and rudeness. Whereas, I’ve been so sure that somehow pride could never lead to rudeness. Then it struck me! Our definitions of pride were really disparate.So, let me try to define pride and some related terms.


Pride. When you’re aware of some of your ability and happy to possess it, that’s pride.


Arrogance. When you’re aware of some ability that you possess and think that very few other people possess it. Here, the difference is that the ability in question is considered important by you. For instance, if I have a good sense of smell, I won’t be arrogant about it, as I’d consider it pretty trivial. I might not be even proud of it. But say, if I think I’m more intelligent than average people, and also think of intelligence as an important trait, then there’s a chance that this awareness (pride) could transform into arrogance. So, arrogance, may be requires a standard to compare oneself against. I think the exact point pride turns into arrogance is when one uses a few of one’s traits to make a sweeping conclusion to the effect that “on account of those abilities, I’m a better person (than some other person). I’m more important to this world”. Thus, arrogance is relative. I could be arrogant with a person less educated than me, but not with someone better educated. But I could be equally proud of having beautiful handwriting both before people with worse and better handwriting than me. For it is absolute.


But is it not possible for me to be actually better than some people in terms of parts (i.e., the individual abilities I possess) and also as a whole (as a person, that is)?

That is a difficult question to answer. But I think I do have an answer now. If I’m arrogant about certain abilities, and even if I retain my objectivity to consider some other person’s abilities as good as mine, I’ll only tend to classify people as less able, or equally able, or more able than me (notice the emphasis). I’ll think it unimportant to try to make out as to who among the two less able than me, is more able. But if I’m proud of certain abilities, I’ll not be so obsessed with my own abilities and not overlook totally others’ abilities. I’ll acknowledge others’ abilities, too even if less impressive than mine.If I’ve to put it in most simple fashion possible, being proud of one’s abilities is like getting used to one’s clothes. You know you possess them (abilities), but don’t think of them all the time. Whereas, arrogance of is like wearing new clothes, constantly thinking about them, and then constantly being conscious if others are noticing them!


Rudeness. Rudeness may or may not be related to arrogance about specific abilities. Rudeness results when one does not consider the other person worthy of existence [(sic!); contempt of sorts]. Yes, so what gives people the right to think of someone else’s existence as unimportant in comparison with their own? It is at this level maybe some kind of arrogance is involved. But it’s some nonspecific kind of arrogance. Rude people “just assume” that they’re more important. Maybe this trait arises from their being less conducive to a social life. Social, as in a life that entails, sharing, respecting, basically, acknowledging someone else to be as important as the self, that too in one’s own system of thoughts. So maybe, by default, we humans do possess certain kind of rudeness. But this seems to be a too far-reaching conclusion I’m drawing. I must not overreach my ability to get my mind into others’ shoes!

Advertisements

21 thoughts on “Pride, Arrogance, Rudeness, etc.

  1. Pride is essential for us to respect self. But that Pride should for the quality we possess, as you had rightly identified. Often that Pride is attached to the results (which may or may not require the requisite quality in the process) and this second Pride is what often results in that baseless Arrogance. And I am rude towards this type of arrogance. For the one you have defined, as Arrogant, I have respect.

    Cheers

  2. Thanks, Saimukundhan, for reading as well as your comments. I realized as I did some more research on the terms after posting that pride has been used differently by religionists, “postmodern” philosophers like Ayn Rand, and by psychologists. One more related term that should find place is–self esteem.

    I’ll try to update the post when I find more time.

    Take care.

  3. I think arrogance also compares. It says ‘I am better than then others’ so the person is wondering how they compare with others. I suspect arrogance is a a result of make believe, required because of self doubt. A truly confident person is unlikely to be arrogant, they can afford to be smug and complacent and be very humble, arrogance would come from some insecurity…

    Just wondering….

  4. Thanks IHM again.

    As I said in my previous comment, I found better explanations of the terms. Plus, though I forgot to mention in the post, I was trying to verbalize how <>I<> tend to use the said terms.

    The fact that we use some words very loosely had prompted me to write this post.

    I realize, I’ll also require to include <>vanity<> in my list.

    Take care.

  5. you have explained it quite well.

    self esteem or self pride is necessary for a person to consider him/herself somewhat important and useful to this world.

    at the same time when one thinks that the world is running on their shoulders then it is utter arrogance.

    we all are comparable to each other.. we will be better in some things than the other person but we could not be as good at something else when compared with the same person. so how does that make us better.. just comparing on our favourable grounds.

    for example – you could be better at sports but he might be a better writer..!

    so why be arrogant with pride..?

    hey why haven’t you written anything after this it’s been almost a month now..?

  6. Thanks, Oorja!

    Yes, I’ve been very busy, and blogging makes of feel guilty (of wasting), when the fact is I end up spending more time commenting on others’ blogs, rather.

    In the description I’ve given pride could be about specific traits (as you said, a sport), whereas, when one somehow extrapolates that pride to think of oneself as worthier than others, then it transforms into arrogance.

    I think you’ve anyway agreed with that part, but maybe you also assumed that all pride would transform to arrogance, and it’s here that I differ in thinking that if one’s got used to that pride, one won’t be arrogant about it.

    Anyway, in all likelihood, I’d be posting something more today itself.

    And, welcome to my blog!

    TC.

  7. Just noticed ur comment and discovered your blog. Too bad couldn’t come earlier and read your post on Communalism. Absolutely loved it.

    And I guess, we tend to use different words in different ways, but we all know what a type of behaviour actually means… I don’t think these terms are watertight.

  8. Thanks, Rakesh!

    Yes, the meanings of words are not water-tight, and even if they’re well defined, everyone tends to use them a bit differently. That’s why the margin for misunderstanding!

    But it’s very rare that we take time to actually define for ourselves what exactly we mean when we use certain word in a certain context, and hence this exercise!

    TC.

  9. To be honest, I never looked so deeply into these words. In fact for a few of them, like vanity, arrogance, conceit etc. I have never even looked into a dictionary, but still have been using them.

    But after reading this I do believe, the definitions to be a bit more objective, than you have acknowledged. What is subjective, is not the definitions, but our assessment of a person’s behaviour and conduct. We might brand them as vanity or of conceit or arrogant, based on whatever other opinion we have already formed of him or her, or based on our own mental state at that time.

    On a serious note, I should acknowledge that I now have a better idea about these terms for me to use (or rather not use them)

    On a different note, I remember something from my rude college days – though I can’t remember exactly, as to whether I told this of myself to somebody or somebody else said this to me on my face – Oh, you are proud of being arrogant and vain!

  10. Saimukundhan,

    I’ve had to call those definitions subjective because, there’s a lot of ‘interpretation’ I’d to do.

    Even if you open some dictionary, you’d find many of them given as each others’ synonyms.

    The other reason I’ve called them subjective is, for instance, because even after such an exhaustive elaboration, a reader might choose to assign different meaning and sense to any or all the terms discussed.

    Thanks for the feedback!

    TC.

  11. wow… that is a long, well written article.. The points you made are very valid, Ketan. While these are not necessarily fine lines dividng these traits, they are made to appear so because of people’s perceptions.

    Too much of one ( eg : pride ) is considered another (arrogance) and so on… as u said, its possible that you are better.. but admitting it automatically makes you arrogant 🙂

  12. Introspection. we need to moniter ourself continuously. i totally agree.

    Having Positive self esteem is good. that arises from being proud of yourself. of qualities that you possess. that others too might or might not possess but that doesn’t affect you or others in any way.. good.

    Now Conceit and Vanity are good concepts here. these two may lead to Arrogance. especially Conceit.

    Vanity on the other hand may take you up or totally down to low self esteem.

    Arrogance and rudeness are inhumane. we all must keep a constant check on that as anyone of us can fall into that pit any time.

    sorry took so long to reach here.. my part time project is still not over yet..

  13. Hello Dr. Roshan!

    Welcome to my blog!

    Yes, too much of one of the traits can lead to the other. But, I feel, arrogance arises first (the way I’ve defined it here), and then if one doesn’t get used to it, it persists as arrogance, but if one gets used to it, and realizes the applications and limitations of the traits one is proud of, then, it’s pride.

    Here, where I talked about myself, I was merely giving an illustrative example, and doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what I think about myself 🙂

    If in a situation, one is required to state that they’re good at something, that automatically, doesn’t qualify it as pride. If an trauma case comes to you and you’re sitting with a sonologist and dermatologist, and if you’re required to establish an IV line, I won’t find anything wrong in your getting up and saying, “I’m good at it, so I’ll do it.” You might call it confidence, but it’d have also given rise to some kind of pride when you’d learnt to insert IV catheters in one of those difficult veins for the first time. Arrogance would be, if you see an intern struggle with inserting of IV cath and you take away the task from him, effortlessly glide the cannula into the vein, give him a smirk and don’t even teach him what mistake he was making. If you instead, teach him (of course with knowledge that you know the procedure better) how to do it, I won’t call it arrogance. The good feeling that confidence “that I can do it” brings is what I’ve tried to label as pride.

    Thanks for commenting and reading such a long blog!

    Take care.

  14. Oorja,

    When I invite you to comment somewhere, it’s totally with this knowledge that you could be busy 🙂 This one I’d pointed as you’re a psychologist, and you’d expressed an interest in seeing the post expanded. 🙂

    Thanks for reading and summarizing! 🙂

    TC.

  15. Hey just landed up here from ur comment. Interesting post, indeed.

    I can I see with most ideas here. I find the definition of vanity most fascinating especially this line..

    ‘Vanity results when one suspects (rightly or wrongly) to be bereft of a highly desirable ability/quality (though, most often used in context of one’s appearance), but does not acknowledge this doubt honestly to oneself.’

    I always believed vanity was a step below arrogance. I did not think of it as somebody overcompensating unconsciously for something they believe they are deficient in.

    Interesting thought, indeed.

    Your blog is a virtual treasure trove of ideas and sometimes, I wonder if I’ll ever finish reading it all. 🙂

  16. Thanks, TUIB for your comment and patience to read!

    Actually, the idea of vanity is something I’d read at some blogger’s blog that now I don’t remember. I’ve only tried to develop it a bit further.

    But the more important issue is if you could relate this post to my ‘pink chaddis’-post? 😉

    Thanks a lot for your appreciation of my ideas. But it’d be more desirable if I don’t have to point out blogs individually for you to read. 🙂

    Of all the posts, the one I’d like you to read is ‘Free will’–chronologically the first one on this blog. TC.

  17. Well, the one additional thing i d like to add based on your definitions is that i v noticed that how the same person can be proud and arrogant about a thing at different points in time and how a person with high self esteem can still FEEL in vain. This is possible due to another term Hypocrisy!!
    The post is thoroughly intellectual! Great

  18. Hi Prabhu!

    Well yes, you’re very right with your first point. A person can be arrogant in the beginning having acquired a new ability or stature, and then they might get used to it, and simply remain proud of it.

    But with regard to the second point, I’m not sure if you meant to say, low self esteem instead of ‘high’, ‘cuz one having a high self esteem wouldn’t feel insecure in the first place to try to cover up with putting up a defensive behavior. Did you make a typo by any chance?

    Thanks a lot for a careful reading. I’m glad you got all the aspects of the post so accurately, which only goes on to show, that this post was read with the attention it deserved (considering the amount of mental effort put in it). 🙂

    With regard to “thoroughly intellectual” and “great”, I’m honored, and maybe that’s why you should visit my blog more frequently. 😉

    TC.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s