Saturday 22 October 2022

How to be 'humble'...

It might be thought that I am almost the last person in the world who is in any position to offer advice on the subject of attaining humility!*

The fact is that I don't even attempt to be humble; because I don't believe that humility is something which can be attained by striving, therefore people should not even attempt to be humble.

Furthermore, those who urge humility upon others are usually trying to manipulate - or dis-courage - them; it can be an aggressive act to urge humility on another, and an act of self-hating, demotivated nihilism to strive for humility in oneself. 

It seems particularly important at present that people do not get tricked into striving for humility; because these are times when the world at large is (wittingly, or self-deceptively) in service to evil; therefore a large majority of people - including the bulk of 'experts' - will falsely be informing, advising and instructing us. 

Anyone who does not go-along-with the prevailing ideas will likely find themselves accused of arrogance, and urged to be more humble: 

"Who are you? A single and a lone voice - to go against the consensus of both the mass majority and the (apparently) unanimous judgment of the experts, the professionals, those who are are far more educated and experienced in such matters. Isn't that extremely arrogant - if not crazy? Shouldn't you (as A Christian!) acknowledge that these others know-better than you do?..."  

Christians need to be able to withstand such pressures, and resist the calls for greater humility (among those who dissent). And they need to be able to do so on the basis of Christian virtues - because motivations are primary; and only Good motivations tend towards Good outcomes. 

Humility is indeed virtuous, but it is a sort-of side effect of other virtues that we can and should strive for; one of which is honesty. 

Thus humility is Not a 'primary' virtue; but a secondary consequence, an inevitable outcome, of pursuing the genuine primary virtues**. 

Desirable humility (the actual virtue) needs to be based-upon conscious and responsible acts of personal discernment. It should never be automatic, unconscious, nor done on the basis of external factors. Nor should our well-considered judgments be abandoned at the first sign of any opposition. 

Desirable humility is therefore a deep and structural thing; which has nothing to do with manners and personality. Someone who asserts his own humility and urges it upon others, is nowadays likely to be someone who shirks his ultimate responsibility for salvation. 

He is superficially humble, affects a 'meek and mild' demeanor; but is deeply prideful - because he has taken the side of the devil against God; opposes the loving harmony of divine creation; and seeks solidarity with the Empire of Lies - and he structures his life and behaviour accordingly. 

This may be evidenced by the phenomenon of doubling-down - whereby a sin is compounded by denying it is a sin, where an error is amplified by refusing to acknowledge it, where a lie is excused then covered-up to become a mutually-supporting system of untruths - rather than being admitted... 

While, on the other side, someone who digs in his heels and refuses to be persuaded by (dishonest) propaganda from (lying) Establishment sources - who indeed may publicly and forcefully assert what he judges to be the truth - may in fact be humble in the desirable and deep sense: as evidence by his commitment to truth, and willingness to admit his errors and expedient untruths. 

But errors will be admitted on a timescale of being personally worked-through, and known from within - not by 'humbly' submitting to the pressure of public opinion or official sanctions. 

Such a person is likely to become aware of his own sins, cowardice, misjudgments, missteps; and to acknowledge and repent them - to turn-around when he is going in the wrong direction, has taken the path towards evil. 

In sum, we can discern the desirable kind of real and deep humility when we observe someone over-time self-correcting - something always necessary; and self-correcting into-line-with real-reality, not conforming into-line-with the expedient fakes and lies of the mainstream and powerful. 

And we should learn to detect and reject those who affect humility as a style, and deploy the demand for humility as a cloak for domination.

In sum: desirable humility is only possible to those who acknowledge and discern correctly about the nature of spiritual war in this mortal world.



* Or if not me, the "last person" to advise on humility might be supposed as Vox Day... The rest of the post is intended to show the error in such a judgment!

**It is common to regard Pride as the worst of sins; and to regard Humility as the opposite of Pride - which, if true, would make Humility the greatest virtue. But this is not true. If Pride indeed has an opposite virtue, this virtue would be Faith: Faith in and commitment to God and to God's will. In other words the First Commandment, as applied to the Christian understanding and knowledge of God. 


Al said...

Dear Dr Charlton,

Could you comment on the Litany of Humility?

Bruce Charlton said...

"Could you comment on the Litany of Humility?"

No, thanks!

Jake said...

Wonderful little essay.
I have often wondered at myself for being seemingly overly prideful or arrogant in my opposition to the mainstream narrative, and have had doubts about my character in terms of my opposition to what I see as wrong.
This helped my integrate things better in terms of thinking about humility and how that works into the desire to stand for truth as one discerns it.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Jake - Thank you! - mission accomplished.

cae said...

I think this is one of those really (really) great blog posts that sometimes get sort of 'lost in the shuffle'...

You've made some often missed, yet very important distinctions here, Dr. Charlton -
- and I think this post makes an excellent 'follow on' to Thursday's entry by William Wildblood:

Because, as William notes the necessity of 'safe guarding oneself from certain pitfalls' "through a mixture of discernment and humility" - his context makes clear precisely the distinction of definition indicated in the second half of your post above -

- that is to say, "humility" defined as scrupulous self-honesty...or the willingness to admit one's own fallibility.

I particularly appreciate your final sentence:
"In sum: desirable humility is only possible to those who acknowledge and discern correctly about the nature of spiritual war in this mortal world."

jason said...

@AI, I'll comment on the Catholic "litany of humility"; per wikipedia it has them praying for Jesus to deliver them from the desire of being esteemed, loved, extolled, honored, praised, preferred to others, etc. It goes on quite a long time. But why do they need Jesus to "deliver them" from these things? Just read Epictetus' Discourses. The Stoics did it themselves; didn't need God to zap them with it. Its a secondary side effect of Stoicism. As Bruce said "humility is Not a 'primary' virtue; but a secondary consequence, an inevitable outcome, of pursuing the genuine primary virtues."

Al said...

@jason: This litany has always seemed to me a bit on the edge since it seemed to require significant faith and love to be useful and not to distract. I think Dr Charlton's post gives a good explanation for the feeling I've had about it but never have been able to articulate.

Sean G. said...

"It seems particularly important at present that people do not get tricked into striving for humility"

As was attempted at Orthanc. I just happened upon this part right after reading this post and it struck me how Saruman was probing Gandalf's humility for weakness.

"Saruman paused. 'Unsay?' he mused, as if puzzled. 'Unsay? I endeavoured to advise you for your own good, but you scarcely listened. Your are proud and do not love advice, having indeed a store of your own wisdom. But on that occasion you erred, I think, misconstruing my intentions willfully. I fear that in my eagerness to persuade you, I lost patience. And indeed I regret. For I bore you no ill-will"

Bruce Charlton said...

@Sean - Good example.

Christopher Yeniver said...

Humility may be the first steps to self-realization/actualization for the "historical" and pre-historic developing mind, that being said, a lesson learned probable millions of years late among masses remaining ignorant.

To view oneself as a merger of God and beast is humility, learning from faults, seeing how ONE suffers and only the self suffers so.