Stoic Week – On Arrogance
This blog includes quite a ramble before I get to the point but…
I remember being called a boffin as a kid. I was labelled smart at a very young age, ha, starting school I was reading books other kids hadn’t heard of, or whose older brothers and sisters were reading. This isn’t a boast, it’s a complaint. I was labelled as intelligent and thought that this was something that I had, a trait like the colour of my hair.
Let’s skip the part where I develop the arrogance of a one-eyed man in the land of the blind and discuss the important part. My personality speaks of someone who is extremely rational. Something I hear a lot: “Hey James, you’re really rational.” Now, when something is repeated enough, whether or not it’s actually true, you start to believe it. I’m not saying I’m not clever, I think I am pretty clever, but the problem is a misunderstanding of why I’m intelligent.
This is the problem I have (re-)discovered through today’s
lunch dinnertime exercise: In my arrogance I have not bothered to check my rationalism, or my ability to see the world as it truly is. The fact is that I am very arrogant and see myself as some lone genius who has a finger on the pulse of the big issues of the world. Haha no, fortunately, the rationalist inside of me, the one who got me labelled as a genius in the first place, knows that’s nonsense.
So, how the hell does this relate to accepting external things outside of my control? I’m getting there… honest. So, I grew up learning all of these wonderful things like what a mammal is, the planets in the solar system (and unlearning “Pluto is a planet”) and thought that knowing this stuff was the thing that made me intelligent. Then I found out that there are stupid people who know these supposedly ‘intelligent’ things.
Then I found out that there are clever people who don’t know science (shout out to a lot of my university friends) but knew other things instead. I discovered I had been mixing two things which we often confuse: intelligence and knowledge. Intelligence is the ability to use knowledge while knowledge is the accumulation of facts.
The world got a little more complicated for me. Now, finally, to the point when I was growing up, I had this hierarchy of people, my parents knew better than me, so did my teachers. Now I’m all grown up, I’m learning that this is really not the case and while they might have twenty years of experience on me, this makes them think that they know things beyond their experience. It also makes them likely to misunderstand a discussion.
Now here is where it relates to the Stoic Week task for today: I often get annoyed when being misunderstood, I often get annoyed when someone thinks something wrong, or doesn’t understand why something is wrong. This is my lack of stoic acceptance. I’m a very intelligent person (This is a boast) and a quite knowledgeable one too so facing the world as it is, in which there are people who don’t understand or don’t know the things that I do but this is beyond my control so there is no sense getting worked up by it.
And now, we’ve reached the conclusion of my waffle.