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Is pride a virtue, a vice, or a weakness?

We will discuss a classical ethical question that some see as a dividing line between ancient and medieval ethical thought. The topic is pride. Merriam Webster tells us that pride means "a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired." Others would say that pride is an excessive belief in one's own abilities or merits.

Some ancient philosophers considered pride a virtue, and spoke of it as "greatness of soul." Others later considered it typically a piece of hubris or arrogance, and spoke of "vain glory." Is pride either? What do you think, and why? It will be enjoyable to hear everyone's perspective on this classic ethical question.

I suggest a meeting place in Scottsdale just below the 101, at a Paradise Bakery Cafe, and a time just after Thanksgiving, on Saturday November 30th.

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  • JasonC

    Reduced turnout - just 3 of us - but a pleasant conversation... Venue was fine, worked well.

    November 30, 2013

  • JasonC

    We are at the large circular table in the front, to the right of the door...

    November 30, 2013

  • JasonC

    Those who bring up politics in our philosophic discussion will be drawn, quartered, seasoned and roasted and served to the neighbors. Leave it outside please.

    November 28, 2013

    • JasonC

      Please leave us in peace then...

      November 29, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      ☮ ☮ ☮ Here's a list of virtues I compiled which does not include pride: http://www.kevinvelas...­

      ☮ ☮ ☮

      November 29, 2013

  • Topher S.

    Sorry guys, family is in town and wants my attention. I was excited for the topic too...

    November 29, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    In 2010 I was in Canada for their independence day. While enjoying a fireworks show in Vancouver with a crowd of people, a man yelled "USA!"

    I then rolled my eyes and said to myself, "Lulz. American Pride."

    November 28, 2013

  • Idell K.

    I planned to attend next week, but my mom died yesterday. I'm imagining that spending time with family over the weekend will be a priority. I will look forward to the next meeting.

    November 23, 2013

  • JasonC

    (continued)

    Kierkegaard, "The Crowd is Untruth"
    Nietzsche, Geneology of Morals

    (Roughly, the existentialist emphasis on the priority / greater reality of the individual, the former in a Christian and the latter in an aggressively anti religious mode; the former as an affirmation of Christian morals, the latter as a radical attack upon those morals).

    Chesterton, Heretics, chapter on "HG Wells and the Giants"
    Rand, "the Virtue of Selfishness"

    (Roughly, two modern ideologies with very different takes on humility, one seeing it as morally freeing and the other as an undue subservience to others and to irrational standards)

    November 23, 2013

  • JasonC

    (continued)

    Hobbes, Leviathan
    Rousseau, 2nd Discourse (on the origins of inequality)

    (Roughly the early modern emphasis on status or being-in-the-eyes of others, which Hobbes treats as the effectual truth of honor as reputation for power, and Rousseau as "amor propre" or rivalry as an origin of both inequality and self-alienation. Both see vain glory as a principle vice in society, with very different remedies. To Hobbes, subjection to external sovereign power; to Rousseau, inward honesty on the one hand and pity on the other).

    November 23, 2013

  • JasonC

    Some entirely voluntary suggested readings on this topic, for those who may be interested, with my gloss on some of the issues in each pair - Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, book 4.
    Epictetus, Golden Sayings

    (Roughly, the classical ancient position that pride is a virtue when it one is proud of things truly worthy of it. For Aristotle, difficult virtues especially, for the stoic Epictetus what is truly under one's own control, which he says is one's moral reaction to events).

    Augustine, Confessions
    Acquinas, Summa Theologica, book 2 (questions on specific passions)

    (Roughly, the medieval Christian position that pride is a vice and alienation from God and truth, and a form of blindness to self. Acquinas curiously blends this with sympathy for the teachings of Aristotle on specific passions).

    November 23, 2013

  • Idell K.

    Tentative maybe. Daughter will be home for Thanksgiving; if she makes plans with others, I'll be there. If she's available to me, I'll shoot for next time.

    November 16, 2013

  • Chris

    Can't make this one, but thanks for stepping up, Jason!

    November 16, 2013

  • Gary S

    I will try to be awake and dressed in time to come.

    November 15, 2013

  • Anne W.

    Thank you Jason for taking over the group and thanks for having the meeting in a more central location. A weekend afternoon is also a good time. Great topic!
    I will be coming from another event, so I may be a little late.

    November 14, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I love the topic as well, but will also be out of town.

    November 14, 2013

  • Steve

    I love the topic! Unfortunately, I'll be out of town for the Holiday. Have fun!

    November 14, 2013

  • Mary M. F.

    This is an addendum. I want to thank you, Jason, for taking on the responsibility for this meet up. It is so important to me, and if I can help you in any way, please let me know.

    November 14, 2013

  • Mary M. F.

    I love the topic and have begun to think in a different direction from the direction I have always accepted as "truth." I am beginning to think that the greatest act of self-love is to embrace a sense of humility. "Hey, I'm not perfect, and I need help." In reality, maybe some of the ancient philosophers may have been directing us toward this "truth." I love the idea of "greatness of soul." What is that greatness other than embracing humility and loving kindness as a direction for life. Just some thoughts. I'd love to discuss how these two concepts, i.e. "pride" and "humility," may intersect. Can't wait to share in person.

    November 14, 2013

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