Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pride - A Discussion

Someone accused a person of being proud. And somehow, this topic became a discussion between me and my friend. I was curious, because I think that pride is a virtue while she, on the other hand, think that it is a sin. Maybe the difference is that she is brought up in a Christian home while I am more like a free- thinker. Therefore, I found something on Wikipedia that I think is worth sharing...

Pride is, depending upon context, either a high sense of the worth of one's self and one's own, or a pleasure taken in the contemplation of these things. One definition of pride in the first sense comes from Augustine: "the love of one's own excellence."In this sense, the opposite of pride is humility.

Pride is sometimes viewed as excessive or as a vice, sometimes as proper or as a virtue. While some philosophies such as Aristotle's consider pride a profound virtue, most world religions consider it a sin. The Roman Catholic Church lists pride as the most deadly of the seven deadly sins.

According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, proud comes from late Old English prud, probably from Old French prude "brave, valiant" (11th century), from late Latin term prode "advantageous, profitable", which comes from prodesse "to be useful". The sense of "having a high opinion of oneself", not in French, may reflect the Anglo-Saxons' opinion of the Norman knights who called themselves "proud", like the French knights preux.

When viewed as a virtue, pride in one's appearance and abilities is known as virtuous pride, greatness of soul or magnanimity, but when viewed as a vice it is often termed vanity or vainglory.

In Christianity, pride (Latin, superbia) is seen as the excessive love of one's own worth usually by attempting to remove oneself from subjection to God or valid authorities. A scriptural reference to pride can be found in the Psalms: "In his pride the wicked does not seek Him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God." (Psalm 10:4). Pride is sometimes referred to as the greatest of the seven deadly sins. To that effect, Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote that "inordinate self-love is the cause of every sin." This sentiment was also expressed by Pope Gregory I. Curiously Aquinas, who viewed pride as sinful "excessive self love", nevertheless endorsed the possibility of a virtuous kind of pride when he translated Aristotle's virtuous pride (Greek: megalopsuchia) as magninimitas, which in latin means "greatness of soul"; yet Aquinas believed that the greatness that magnanimitas required was beyond the reach of almost all men and that, like pride, it opposed the Christian virtue of humility.

From the point f view of Ancient Greek Philosophy, Aristotle identified pride (megalopsuchia, variously translated as proper pride, greatness of soul and magnanimity) as the crown of the virtues, distinguishing it from vanity, temperance, and humility, thus:
Now the man is thought to be proud who thinks himself worthy of great things, being worthy of them; for he who does so beyond his deserts is a fool, but no virtuous man is foolish or silly. The proud man, then, is the man we have described. For he who is worthy of little and thinks himself worthy of little is temperate, but not proud; for pride implies greatness, as beauty implies a goodsized body, and little people may be neat and well-proportioned but cannot be beautiful.

He concludes then that

Pride, then, seems to be a sort of crown of the virtues; for it makes them greater, and it is not found without them. Therefore it is hard to be truly proud; for it is impossible without nobility and goodness of character.

By contrast, Aristotle defined hubris as follows:

to cause shame to the victim, not in order that anything may happen to you, nor because anything has happened to you, but merely for your own gratification. Hubris is not the requital of past injuries; this is revenge. As for the pleasure in hubris, its cause is this: men think that by ill-treating others they make their own superiority the greater.

Thus, although many religions may not recognize the difference, for Aristotle and many philosophers hubris is altogether an entirely different thing from pride.

On the psychological view, hubris is a sense of self exaggerated pride. There are two main types of pride that relate to hubris: alpha pride and beta pride.

Alpha Pride (Pride within self) is described as a behavior that reflects less emotional expression. Alpha pride concerns feelings of inward gratification rather than the outward expressions that more concern that of beta pride. Beta Pride (Pride in behavior) is described as a behavior that contributes to hubris negatively. Beta pride in contrast to alpha pride is more of an emotional expression. Emotional expressions are often intended as communicative acts addressed to another person rather than direct reflections of an underlying mental state. Several theories are related to the relationship of beta pride and the unconscious feelings of detachment/unconcern.

Pride is "a pleasant, sometimes exhilarating, emotion that results from a positive self-evaluation" (Luis, 2002). The standard view of pride was that it results from satisfaction with meeting the personal goals set by oneself. Most research on pride attempts to distinguish the positive aspects of pride and the negative. Pride involves exhilarated pleasure and a feeling of accomplishment. Pride is related to "more positive behaviors and outcomes in the area where the individual is proud" (Weiner, 1985). Pride is generally associated with positive social behaviors such as helping others and outward promotion. According to Bagozzi et. al, pride can have the positive benefits of enhancing creativity, productivity, and altruism. Gestures that demonstrate pride can involve a lifting of the chin, smiles, or arms on hips to demonstrate victory.

Hubris, by contrast, involves an arrogant tone and satisfaction in oneself in general. Hubris seems to be associated with more intra-individual negative outcomes. Hubris is related to expressions of aggression and hostility (Tagney, 1999). Hubris is not necessarily associated with high self-esteem, as one might expect. But with highly fluctuating or variable self-esteem (Rhodwalt, et al.) Excessive feelings of hubris have a tendency of creating conflict and sometimes terminating close relationships. Hubris is considered one of the few emotions without some positive functions. Though this is easily arguable, Hubris is essentially self-confidence, and confiding in oneself may not be as 'negative' as some say. Nevertheless, examples of the evil of hubris are regularly used to inculcate people with selfless values--"Hitler had a lot of hubris", etc.

So generally, I got this idea that pride and hubris are 2 different thing. Pride is not exactly a bad value while hubris is close to being narcisist. So, next time, when someone accuse you of being proud, think of it as a virtue as it promotes creativity, productivity and many more. It's better than to be proud in moderate level than to have low self esteem right?

PS: This topic is open for discussion. Feel free to leave a comment... ;)

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