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In Defense of Narcissism

FREEDO
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5/5/2012 3:00:02 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
Here we go, a thread long over do from me, myself and the most glorious I.

Despite the topic, it isn't an attention whoring thread and has been rightly placed in the philosophy section.

I'd like to air some grievances on what I see to be a fallacy reaching deep into the heart of human society. A sort of conditioned hatred towards the self-lover and a repulsion from becoming one. It is something which occupies a very embedded space in the human psyche. We can see all around us ways in which society is sculpted around it. I see it as no coincidence, after-all, that the thing regarded by the world's largest religion and many others as the first act of sin is pride, Satan's fall from glory. This is not without due cause. Humans have evolved as highly social animals. More than anything, we have relied on our group mentality to get us to where we are as a species today.

But I contend that humility has long out-lived it's usefulness and has indeed become more of a nuisance, especially in this period of changing ethical standards. We are developing rapidly from a point where all our beliefs and values are mirrored metaphorical constructs of tools we used as a species to become dominant. We have our dominance, we have our survival, we have bountiful resources and solid cultures. This is why, more than ever, many of our collective psychological tools of excelling the species are of no further use. Now is the time for the individual to achieve their own goals.

So where does Narcissism fit into this? Well, it is one of those things which we are born with and then have subjected to violent suppression deep into our sub-conscious by our society. We are conditioned to have a guilt reflex, one of the most destructive forces in the human psyche, as soon as it manages to surface in us. There is a duality to this. It is we who have created our culture out of our sub-conscious and it is our culture which molds our conscious, suppressing what it wants. The most obvious example of this being guilt. The ethics of our culture was spawned from our collective evolutionary needs. But these needs are never static, they change as we change our environment. So, as we now live in a much different world, it is natural and predictable that we are seeing a large scale shift in our ethical standards in recent years, particularly since the Renaissance.

Humility is a small but cornerstone factor in a much larger array of crisscrossing psychological social constructs. It is highly interlocked with religion. The religious mind-set is really just a large conglomeration of these different small interlocking parts. If the mind succumbs to one of any of these devices, it becomes more and more likely for others to follow. They all reinforce each other. But as we can see now, religious values have been quickly declining in exchange for more humanistic ones. Even though our need for the old value system disappeared a long time ago, it will take a long time for the newer constructs to phase-out the older ones. Our evolution designed it to be extremely controlling, molding our actions towards certain collective ends. It is a mechanism that has been refined over and over and over again through natural selection and it will not be easily broken.

If we are to leave out the rest of the constructs for now and just focus on this one, what is there to make of it? Why have I picked our this certain value to disgrace? It is because I see it as one of those most fundamental obstacles in the way of the pursuit of happiness for the individual mind. As I mentioned earlier, guilt is a highly destructive force. This can be a good or bad thing depending on the context and depending on the ethical standards you are using to measure it. In respect to the context that anti-narcissism creates and by the majority of ethical schools that have arisen in modern times, most especially Hedonism and other such schools that exalt the pursuit of happiness, it can be reasonably declared that the guilt it creates is a bad thing.

Keep in mind that when pride is suppressed, that does not mean it is eliminated. Far from it. It is impossible to ever accomplish that. The person who insists on despising themselves, nonetheless, esteems themselves as a self-despiser. When we create a supposedly humble mind-set for ourselves, it is, all along, there only to satisfy our ego that wants to think of itself as humble. Humans are set apart from most other animals in the respect that they have a very highly developed ego. This is a sort of organ which acts to manipulate our actions. All actions not done in reflex are done for the ego. It is where we get our perception of free-will. You could argue that simpler life-forms, too, have free-will, but they would never know the difference.

The mind unrestrained from suppression of it's pride is a mind free of emotional contradictions. This is absolutely key. I don't have any PhDs but this is my hypothesis. All non-reflex emotional states (or "moods") are imaginary constructs that our ego creates out of the result of conflicting basic ego-desires. This relates to what I said about the self-despiser. The depressed person obviously would rather be happy, yet it is a result of their desires created our of their egotistical constructs which has made them depressed. The vast majority of the time, a person becomes depressed due to low self-esteem. They want to hate themselves, though that isn't to say that they want to want to hate themselves. Negativity is born of confliction and confliction is born out of the suppression we inherit from our culture.

I am speaking out of the introspection I have had with my own experiences battling depression. Not only was I, at one time, different from the chipper guy you know now but I have, in-fact, been depressed for the majority of my memorable life and, at many points, suicidal. This is before I ever came to DDO. I can look back now and see my obsession with humility and contrast it with what I have now. Now, I never cease to bask in the relentless glory of what it means to be myself. It is incredibly powerful; It is pure triumph.

I see it as no coincidence that Charlie Sheen suddenly became more famous than he has ever been after he made the statement "I'm tired of pretending like I'm not special. I'm tired of pretending like I'm not bitchin', a total freakin' rock star from Mars." and similar others. He has become both loved and hated for this because of the huge message it sends that disrupts our sub-conscious. A man actually loves himself, that's outrageous!

Now, if I may get Romanticist about it for a moment (when it really always is for me). What nerve is there--what justification could there be to suppress it? How many kill themselves and how many live in misery because they cannot dare to become their God? That any sort of thought like that is repulsive; obscene! What is it that's so righteous about society that it can declare "Sure, self-esteem is good but NOT TOO MUCH!" God forbid you actually squeezed every tender drop of glory out of the experience of your own existence. Sometimes it useful for society to dehumanize you completely and some times it wants you to have just a little bit so you can be a stronger slave but a slave nonetheless. Why not be no one's tool, but rather the champion of your own domain? Do you even have enough self-power to seriously ask yourself these questions!?

Also, I was going to add how pride doesn't have to mean you are dick to people but I am out of space and no one ever reads multiple post articles.

That is all.
GRAND POOBAH OF DDO

fnord
airmax1227
Posts: 13,223
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5/5/2012 4:41:02 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
I wrote out a long reply to this and then concluded it was mostly incoherent...

I'll just say this then..

Guilt untended to is extremely self-destructive.
Some of the things you describe like pride are not worth feeling guilty about in their simplest definitions (A feeling of pleasure from one's own achievements) and are in fact a useful part of our character.

I believe one can feel prideful, in the basic definition, "A feeling of pleasure from one's own achievements", without becoming arrogant, as long as they understand the importance of humility and keep their own ability and achievements in perspective.

narcissism:
1)Excessive or erotic interest in oneself and one's physical appearance.
2)Extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one's own talents and a craving for admiration.

They key here seems to be in the terms excessive and extreme. It's not simply caring about ones physical appearance, or being proud of ones achievements but the excessive nature of it.

If one is so selfish as to believe that the feelings of others should be irrelevant to them, how much more likely is it that this type of belief will manifest to future anti-social behavior? It's not really that much of a stretch to believe that one will inevitably lead to the other.

If 'self-love' manifests into a person recognizing that they are important, special, and like everyone, deserving of respect and consideration, it is not a bad thing. Further, if we define it in its conceptual ideal, as one dedicating them self to their own self-betterment (regular introspective analysis and development of their character) it is one of the most important and crucial things a person can internalize.

I think if everyone were to understand 'self-love' in this way, and everyone were to truly love them self, then no one would feel guilty at all...

Otherwise I think a lot of what you said went over my head and I simply didn't understand it. I think we have dissimilar beliefs over the ideas of guilt and pride, but I'd like to engage you on those topics, if anything above made any sense with regards to your post.
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FREEDO
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5/5/2012 11:42:36 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 5/5/2012 4:41:02 AM, airmax1227 wrote:
I wrote out a long reply to this and then concluded it was mostly incoherent...

I'll just say this then..

Guilt untended to is extremely self-destructive.
Some of the things you describe like pride are not worth feeling guilty about in their simplest definitions (A feeling of pleasure from one's own achievements) and are in fact a useful part of our character.

I believe one can feel prideful, in the basic definition, "A feeling of pleasure from one's own achievements", without becoming arrogant, as long as they understand the importance of humility and keep their own ability and achievements in perspective.

narcissism:
1)Excessive or erotic interest in oneself and one's physical appearance.
2)Extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one's own talents and a craving for admiration.

They key here seems to be in the terms excessive and extreme. It's not simply caring about ones physical appearance, or being proud of ones achievements but the excessive nature of it.

If one is so selfish as to believe that the feelings of others should be irrelevant to them, how much more likely is it that this type of belief will manifest to future anti-social behavior? It's not really that much of a stretch to believe that one will inevitably lead to the other.

If 'self-love' manifests into a person recognizing that they are important, special, and like everyone, deserving of respect and consideration, it is not a bad thing. Further, if we define it in its conceptual ideal, as one dedicating them self to their own self-betterment (regular introspective analysis and development of their character) it is one of the most important and crucial things a person can internalize.

I think if everyone were to understand 'self-love' in this way, and everyone were to truly love them self, then no one would feel guilty at all...

Otherwise I think a lot of what you said went over my head and I simply didn't understand it. I think we have dissimilar beliefs over the ideas of guilt and pride, but I'd like to engage you on those topics, if anything above made any sense with regards to your post.

Thank you for the response. It is relevant.
What I mainly object to that I see you are doing here is still measuring everyone by a single standard. When the issue at hand is allowing individuals to measure their own worth by their own standards.
Who has the authority to decide what is "excessive"?
Heightened pride may or may not lead to anti-social behavior, depending on the person's own individual empathy drives. But even if it does, what is the consequence of that that must be immoral? If they lose valuable social connections due to it then it is their own self-inflicted punishment. Values do not translate into actions without context.
And it is important to point out that heightened pride does not imply anti-social behavior as a general rule. The misconception I see here is that anti-social people often do acquire heightened pride. This is due to lesser-empathetic individuals having less respect for societal pressures. But the fact remains that most human beings have a strong inherit sense of empathy.
So if the entire human race were to obtain heightened pride it would not conclude with a world filled with more brutality. And there are many other drives or lack of drives that can lead to the self-loving mindset besides lack of empathy, so it is very possible to see such a transformation without humans losing their empathy drives.
I'm drunk so I hope this makes sense.
GRAND POOBAH OF DDO

fnord
airmax1227
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5/6/2012 1:57:05 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
Thank you for the response. It is relevant.
What I mainly object to that I see you are doing here is still measuring everyone by a single standard. When the issue at hand is allowing individuals to measure their own worth by their own standards.

That's part of what my point was. I never mentioned any type of morality or any standard at all. Everyone needs to decide for them self what their own standard is through their own introspection. 'Guilt' is generally one believing they failed to abide by their own standard. Of course, there is nothing the least bit objective, singular, or universal about that.

Who has the authority to decide what is "excessive"?

No one and everyone. Each of us has to decide that individually. Most of us inherit and are conditioned into a certain set of standards from our parents and environment, and breaking those standards is what causes us to feel bad about violating our personal construct of that definition.

Heightened pride may or may not lead to anti-social behavior, depending on the person's own individual empathy drives. But even if it does, what is the consequence of that that must be immoral? If they lose valuable social connections due to it then it is their own self-inflicted punishment. Values do not translate into actions without context.

I don't disagree with this, but I specifically never mentioned morality. The consequence of this is one person's pleasure coming at the cost of another person's well being, and this type of behavior is where 'self-love' crosses the line from being possibly benign and personal to being self-destructive and excessive.

And it is important to point out that heightened pride does not imply anti-social behavior as a general rule. The misconception I see here is that anti-social people often do acquire heightened pride. This is due to lesser-empathetic individuals having less respect for societal pressures. But the fact remains that most human beings have a strong inherit sense of empathy.

I don't think i ever implied any universal causation between any personality characteristic and anti-social behavior. Simply that when certain traits increase the potential for this behavior, the individual has a responsibility to them self (as it naturally pertains to their own well-being) to reconsider those aspects of their character.

As I said earlier, untended guild is extremely self destructive, and any such extreme traits or habits that are excessive may have a tendency to make an individual feel guilty about them.

So if the entire human race were to obtain heightened pride it would not conclude with a world filled with more brutality. And there are many other drives or lack of drives that can lead to the self-loving mindset besides lack of empathy, so it is very possible to see such a transformation without humans losing their empathy drives.

I'm not sure how you reached this conclusion based on what I said, but from what I gather the important thing here is the nature of empathy. All people being empathetic towards each other leads to a better world. If heightened pride does not effect this in the hypothetical, then that's fine.

But should any person's pride lead them to believe they are entitled to respect that should not be granted to others in such a way that it causes them to be anti-social, and to treat other people badly, then it would be true that this type of mindset is indeed self-destructive, and bad for 'the self' and society in general.

People should feel guilty when they mistreat people, because it manifests as an ultimate internal contradiction (Why should people respect me, if I don't respect other people? and then why should I respect myself?) and all character traits that encourage such behavior should be suppressed and ultimately reformed.

The nuances of this are many, and rarely reflected in the extreme though. We all must take an accounting of our character and the behavior we feel is proper, and when we violate our own standards, our guilt is a reflection of that internalized contradiction.

I'm drunk so I hope this makes sense.

I likewise hope that my response was adequately coherent.
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Cinco
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3/4/2013 6:17:30 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Still relevant to FREEDO?

This is interesting because "narcissism" and "pride" aren't really accurate but are about as close as you can get, in English. It says quite a bit about a society that doesn't have actual, proper words for something nearly everyone wants which is to feel good in heir own skin, doesn't it?

We could create the necessary words - right here and now. Well...when I say "we", I mostly mean somebody more word-loving than me.
If your time, to you,
Is worth savin',
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone.
For the times they are a-changin'. - Bob Dylan
FREEDO
Posts: 21,057
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3/5/2013 5:11:21 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Still relevant to me. Although I'm too lazy to reread my own post at the moment to make sure. There's probably a few things I would change.
GRAND POOBAH OF DDO

fnord