The Gifts of Humility

Unsurprisingly, major religions, from Buddhism to Christianity to Islam, place emphasis on humility. And so do countless codes of secular ethics. Indeed, any civilization worth its salt seeks to rein in our propensity for hubris and excessive self-assertion. (Just think of the uncommon length people in Japan, for example, go to embody humility in everyday life.) Yet, for all our efforts, this is, in the end, a losing battle. Civilization is weak and precarious, and life, ever stronger and more savage, always comes out on top. Self-assertion is natural, gratifying, erotically charged, whereas self-denial is anything but. Of all the animals, the human variety may be the most difficult to tame. And this is precisely why humility is so important. Through it we can learn how to tolerate ourselves and others, and make ourselves a touch less abominable. For good or ill, it is the best tool we have to tame the beasts that we are.

There is nothing shocking about this. If anything, it is one of the most banal — or should I say humble? — philosophical ideas. From the Buddha to the Sufi masters to Schopenhauer to Bergson and Weil, mystics and philosophers, East and West, have not in essence said anything else. If hearing it again does shock us, it is only because we have, perhaps like never before, become so blindly, erotically entangled in the race of life that we have even forgotten that we have eyes to see.

— Costica Bradatan, The Gifts of Humility

3 thoughts on “The Gifts of Humility

  1. Very good! I would love to forward this to the current occupant of the Oval Office! LOL 🙂 🙂 🙂 By the way, I am somewhat surprised to find Bergson’s name listed among the philosophers. I thought he’d all but been forgotten… I am assuming now that the author is referring to the early 20th century French-Jewish philosopher, Henri Bergson. I only became acquainted with him when I procured a copy of his (reportedly) greatest work, “Creative Evolution.” Wonderfully intriguing work, advancing the notion (which I readily accept) that evolution could not have gone on, at least successfully, without some sort of …. hmmm, mindful animation, I suppose. Bergson refers to it as the élan vital. Are you familiar with Bergson? (Sorry for going on so long!!!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh no, no apologies please. Your comment is very welcome! I read Henri Bergson’s CE years ago. I did find, as I still do, his concept of Elan Vital or the Life Force fascinating and a very compelling idea. Just like I like Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit (or Geist) and Hegel’s Philosophy of History also fascinate me. Tolstoy was greatly affected by Hegel and the whole grand revelation of geist (of the consciousness of God) through history, through, to channel Bergson, the unfolding of the Vital Impetus. And I like that word “mindful animation” by the way.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you, my friend. Something told me you’d probably be familiar w/Bergson! One amazing result of the journey I took in answering the question of “being” human has been my introduction to so much heretofore unfamiliar, or completely unknown, material by some truly great minds! Including Henri Bergson! Peace and blessings to you, my friend!


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