New Seven Deadly Vices: Humility

created by Brett & Tammy Prang

Humility is often just a feigned submissiveness employed to dominate others. It is a stratagem of pride, which lowers itself that it may raise itself; and though pride wears a thousand masks, it is never better disguised than when it wears the mask of humility itself. — La Rochefoucauld

When a virtue exceeds moderation and mutates into some impossible ideal, it has become a vice. Humility as a Christian virtue has metamorphosed into something artificial today– a mask of hypocrisy — where prominent figures appeal to the masses with humble gestures.

Besides a pretense, humility is historically the cloak of the frail and passive — a sign language of the naturally weak that are unable to assert themselves. However, it is the priestly class that drilled such sign language into the masses for the sake of control.

Not only is humility mostly false, it also appeals to the jealous and the petty– reinforcing a culture of hypocrisy in the public realm. Thus it serves a petty desire to avoid upsetting others – a true indication of egotism that compromises itself for the sake of self-preservation.

Moreover, the virtue of humility slaps a pillory on ambitious individuals from difficult or challenging backgrounds, stunting their potential to contribute to society.

Humility, according to Aristotle, was micropsuchia — a deficiency, while its opposite, vanity was an excess. The golden means between the two is modesty – which is a balanced judgment superior to both vices. Modesty is the clear awareness of one’s limits, whereas humility is humiliation — or precisely, the exaggeration of one’s shortcomings. It is better to be honest and modest, than a self-serving hypocrite that appears humble on cue.

#1. Ignorance

#2. Seriousness

#3. Mediocrity

#4. Prudery

#6. Self-Deception

#7. Boredom

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...a philosophisticator who utters heresies, thinks theothanatologically and draws like Kirby on steroids.

4 thoughts on “New Seven Deadly Vices: Humility”

  1. Never really looked at humility that way before and often regarded it as something that wasn't so bad. However, when you compare it to modesty in that spectrum (humility to modesty to vanity) than I can understand that there is something better than it for both the individual and the way the individual acts around others. I suppose giving oneself some credit or support reinforces their worth rather than just being humble the entire time and destroying any credibility or support they receive or develop. Then again, it may depend on the circumstances and there may be times when humility is the way to go. Not entirely sure on the subject yet but it was a thought-provoking read that actually caught me by surprise.

    1. Thanks for the response, Avvesione. I guess humility as a virtue is so deeply ingrained in our culture that we have trouble getting out of that groove.

      It is worth noting that agonistic cultures like ancient Greece did not consider envy as a vice, because that culture did not place a high value on equality. Plus in ancient Israel, wrath was the proof of great vitality, and this is why divine wrath was a chief characteristic of the Hebraic God.

      Customs is a system that directs our drives. Thus, the one and same drive can be experienced under the pressure of certain customs as a painful feeling of cowardice, or as a "pleasurable feeling of humility." (Daybreak, 38). In other words, drives do not have a moral character in and of themselves.

  2. This reminds me of a scene from The Twelve Kingdoms in which Yoko bans prostration throughout her kingdom. She does so on roughly similar grounds, as she views both its performer and audience in the wrong. She claims the action of bowing (the pinnacle of humility in the parent culture of Japan) is often but a mask of feigned submissiveness, a maneuver by which the performer literally hides his true face and the overseer puffs with self-importance.

    She also draws a distinction between bowing by coercion (from land, society, or custom) and by one's free will, and it is implied that a person of integrity and modesty would not otherwise seek to display such humility.

    1. Hoiut
      I recall that great anime, and thank you for mentioning it.

      In fact, I wonder if humility in Japan, modern or ancient/edo/sudoko period, a decidedly shame-centric culture, manifest differently than humility does in a guilt-centric culture like in Western Europe and America? And whether humility as a contemporary vice is cross-cultural?

      Food for thought.

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