Monday, January 14, 2019

Russell on standard of values adjustments......

     Be very wary of opinions that flatter your self-esteem.  Both men and women, nine times out of ten, are firmly convinced of the superior excellence of their own sex.  There is abundant evidence on both sides.  If you are a man, you can point out that most poets and men of science are male; if you are a woman, you can retort that so are most criminals.  The question is inherently insoluble;  but self-esteem conceals this most people.  We are all, whatever part of the world we come from, persuaded that our own nation is superior to all others.  Seeing that each nation has characteristic merits and demerits, we adjust our standard of values so as to make out that the merits possessed by our nation are the really important ones, while its demerits are comparatively trivial.  Here, again the rational man will admit that the question is one to which there is no demonstrably right answer.  It is more difficult to deal with the self-esteem of man as man, because we cannot argue out the matter with some nonhuman mind.  The only way I know of dealing with this general human conceit is to remind ourselves that man is a brief episode in the life of a small planet in a little corner of the universe, and that, for aught we know, other parts of the cosmos may contain things as superior to ourselves as we are to jelly-fish.

-Bertrand Russell

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