The Grey Chronicles

2009.September.3

The Filipino Pride



Grey DayDuring my daily read, I chanced upon this article by Pepe Diokno (2008) which says:

“The truth is, Pinoy pride is prejudice. It only exists because we think ourselves to be inadequate.”

Pride is a feeling of self-respect and personal worth. Pride is also the unreasonable and inordinate self-esteem (personified as one of the deadly sins) or the trait of being spurred on by a dislike of falling below your standards (Morales & Gilner, 2009).

Before we could turn to the crux of the matter, as envisaged in the post title, it is fitting to ask: What makes a man proud? This writer is not a baccalaureate, master, or doctorate degree-holder in Philosophy, but rather a Filipino business management student trying to understand the Filipino pride. The following is an attempt of a short literary review on pride.

A famous philosopher, Bertrand Russell (1945: 173-4) speaks of a golden mean doctrine:

“Every virtue is a mean between two extremes, each of which is a vice. This is proved by an examination of the various virtues. Courage is a mean between cowardice and rashness; liberality, between prodigality and meanness; proper pride, between vanity and humility; ready wit, between buffoonery and boorishness; modesty, between bashfulness and shamelessness. Some virtues do not seem to fit into this scheme; for instance, truthfulness. ” [Emphasis added.]

Bateson (1936) also states, emotions—pride, competitive individualism, modesty and cooperation—did not appear in isolation and were defined only relative to one another—pride could not exist without humility, one of pride’s extreme vice in Russell’s quoted golden mean.

Zaine Ridling (2001: 601), in his book, Philosophy Then and Now, writes:

“It was in the cultural context of the Renaissance, and in particular with the Italian humanists and their imitators, that the center of gravity of reflective thought descended from heaven to earth, with man, his nature, and his capacities and limitations becoming a primary focus of philosophical attention. This gave rise to the humanism that constitutes philosophical anthropology in the second sense. Man did not thereby cease to view himself within the context of the world, nor did he deny the existence of God; he did, however, disengage himself sufficiently from the bonds of cosmic determination and divine authority to become a center of interest in his own eyes. In ancient literature the educated people of the West rediscovered a clear conscience instead of the guilty conscience of Christianity; at the same time, the great inventions and discoveries suggested that man could take pride in his accomplishments and regard himself with admiration.” [Emphasis added.]

The Renaissance period, therefore, restored human pride, but carried it to the point where it led to anarchy and disaster. Man, formerly too humble, begins to think of himself as almost a God (Russell, 1945: 827-8). Christian ethics disapproves of pride, which Aristotle thinks a virtue, and praises humility, which he thinks a vice (Russell, 1945: 177). Nietzsche took from Aristotle the concept of greatness of soul, the unchristian virtue that included nobility and a justified pride in one’s achievements (Ridling, 2001: 1044)

Any treatise on human pride, which encompasses Filipino pride, values and vices would indubitably seep in the discussion; thus, it would be incongruous not to touch on good and evil.

The book, A Short History of Modern Philosophy, by Roger Scruton (1995: 187) offers:

“The good specimen is the one whose power is maintained, and who therefore flourishes. The capacity to flourish resides not in the ‘good will’ of Kant nor in the universal aim of the utilitarians. It is to be found in those dispositions of character which permit the exercise of will: dispositions like courage, pride and firmness. Such dispositions, which have their place, too, among the Aristotelian virtues, constitute self-mastery. They also permit the mastery of others, and prevent the great ‘badness’ of self-abasement” [Emphasis added.]

Pride, Gerald O’Daly (1999: 408) agrees, is “a desire for self-mastery in an order where the soul is not the master, degrades it morally to animal level. But this degradation can only be understood in a metaphorical sense.” But, of course, it is the human being who feels pride, envy and curiosity, not his mind or brain (Haller, 2009).

The best individual, as conceived by Aristotle, is a very different person from the Christian saint. He should have proper pride, and not underestimate his own merits. He should despise whoever deserves to be despised. The description of the proud or magnanimous man is very interesting as showing the difference between pagan and Christian ethics, and the sense in which Nietzsche was justified in regarding Christianity as a slave-morality (Russell, 1945: 175)

“Evil in the moral sense is,” O’Daly (1999: 400-401) quoting Augustine, “the fact or consequence of willed evil action, chosen by a mind (angelic or human) that remains essentially good, whose nature is good. Persons are, strictly speaking, not evil: actions may be. If love determines action and is a symptom of character, self-love is the source of sin: more specifically, the source is pride, understood as a refusal to accept subordination to God, to acquiesce in one’s place in the hierarchy of beings.”

Loving something is a necessary condition of willing it: sometimes Augustine suggests that it is tantamount to willing it. Loving the right things for the right reasons is a pre-condition of acting well. Loving the wrong things, or the right things for the wrong reasons, leads to evil actions (O’Daly 1999: 400). Corollary to that, for Augustine, Kirwan (1989) states, “it is not possible to love and value the wrong things and at the same time to choose what is right. Loving the right things is a question of character, not just of rational insight.”

The Copernican theory should have been humbling to human pride, but in fact the contrary effect was produced, for the triumphs of science revived human pride. “To be humble before God was both right and prudent, for God would punish pride.” (Russell, 1945: 538)

In Plato, C.C.W. Taylor (1997), editor of Routledge History of Philosophy , Vol I., observes:

“ … the theory that the soul (psuche) has three ‘parts’ or aspects (distinguished by contrasted aspirations but with a tendency to enter into conflict); reason, which pursues truth and the good of the whole soul, the ‘spirited’ part (thumos or to thumoeides), responsible for the higher emotions such as pride and self-respect, and appetite, which pursues bodily pleasure. ” [Emphasis added.]

Arthur Schopenhauer concludes that reason, “while essential and useful in human life, must never gain the upper hand over perception.” He opposes not only the philosophical banality that reason is the pride of humanity but also opposes the common ethical view that reason should be entrusted with control of one’s behavior (Higgins, 1993).

How do intelligent human beings turn out so dim? One theory is that they’re too smart for their own good. Feinberg & Tarrant (1995) label it the “self-destructive intelligence syndrome.” They argue smart people act stupid because of personality flaws—things like pride, arrogance, and unconscious needs to fail.


Notes:

Bateson, Gregory (1936). Naven: A Survey of the Problems Suggested by a Composite Picture of the Culture of a New Guinea Tribe Drawn from Three Points of View. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1936. As cited by Lindholm (2007: 105). back to text.

Bolman, Lee G. & Deal, Terrence E. (2003). Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice, and Leadership. 3rd ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass / John Wiley & Sons, 2003. p. 6. back to text.

Haller, A.von (1966). First Lines of Physiology. New York: Johnson Reprint Corporation, 1966. p. 45. As cited by Shanker (1996: 369). back to text.

Diokno, Pepe (2009). Phony Pride. Manila: Philippine Star, 19 June 2008. back to text.

Feinberg, M., & Tarrant, J. J. (1995). Why Smart People Do Dumb Things. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995. As cited by Bolman & Deal, (2003: 6). back to text.

Higgins, Kathleen M. (1993). Arthur Schopenhauer, Routledge History of Philosophy, Vol. VI: The Age of German Idealism. Robert C. Solomon and Kathleen M. Higgins [eds.]. London and New York: Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2004. p. 339. back to text.

Kirwan, C. (1989). Augustine. London and New York: Routledge. pp. 187—92. As cited by O’Daly (1999: 400). back to text.

Lindholm, Charles (2007). Culture and Identity: The History, Theory, and Practice of Psychological Anthropology. Oxford, England: Oneworld Publications, 2007. p. 105. back to text.

Morales, Franc & Gilner, Leah (2001-2009). TheSage’s English Dictionary and Thesaurus. Princeton University. back to text

O’Daly, Gerald (1999). Augustine, Routledge History of Philosophy, Vol. II: From Aristotle to Augustine. David Furley [ed.]. London and New York: Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2004. p. 400—401, 408. back to text: 1 | 2 | 3.

Ridling, Zaine (2001). Philosophy Then and Now: A Look Back at 26 Centuries of Ideas That Have Shaped Our Thinking. Kansas, MI.: Access Foundation, June 2001. pp. 601, 1044. back to text: 1 | 2.

Russell, Bertrand (1945). A History of Western Philosophy and its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1945. pp. 173—77, 312, 827—8. back to text: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5.

Scruton, Roger (2009). A Short History of Modern Philosophy: From Descartes to Wittgenstein. 2nd ed. London: Routledge, 1995. p. 187. back to text.

Shanker, Stuart G. (1996). Descartes’ legacy: the mechanist/vitalist debates, Routledge History of Philosophy, Vol. IX: Philosophy of Science, Logic and Mathematics in the Twentieth Century. Stuart G.Shanker [ed.]. London and New York: Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2004. p. 369. back to text.

Taylor, C.C.W. [ed.] (1997). Routledge History of Philosophy , Vol I.: From the Beginning to Plato. London and New York: Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2005. p. 429. back to text.

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2 Comments »

  1. […] The Filipino Pride – Part I […]

    Pingback by "Filipino Pride", Pepe Diokno, and The Grey Chronicles | Anti-Pinoy — 2010.June.17 @ 19:47 | Reply

  2. […] The Filipino Pride – Part I […]

    Pingback by “Filipino Pride”, Pepe Diokno, and The Grey Chronicles | Anti-Pinoy :) — 2010.April.5 @ 13:42 | Reply


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