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#400305 - 06/24/08 11:04 PM "humility"...and other funny stuff ;)
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
humility, being humble, and all that.

some perspectives:

Kant is among the first philosophers to view conception of humility as "that meta-attitude which constitutes the moral agent's proper perspective on himself as a dependent and corrupt but capable and dignified rational agent"

Mahatma Gandhi is attributed as suggesting that attempting to sustain truth without humility is doomed to cause it to become instead an "arrogant caricature" of truth.

Tao Te Ching - a wise person acts without claiming the results as his; he achieves his merit and does not rest (arrogantly) in it: -- he does not wish to display his superiority.

Nietzsche wrote of humility as a weakness, a false virtue which concealed the frailties and hidden crookedness in its holder.

(To President Kennedy when he was being presented with a gold medal for 'services to his country'. ) "I feel very humble, but I think I have the strength of character to fight it." ~ Bob Hope

"Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods."
~Albert Einstein

"If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants."
~Isaac Newton

A thought on this as it pertains to MA -

- Someone trains for a total of x years, then decides they are qualified to teach, so they open a commercial gym and advertise themselves.
The same claims with humility they are forever a student and always learning, yada yada..., yet they have self-assumed a qualification and position of teacher.

Is it a contradiction for someone to assume such a self-appointed position, yet be genuinely humble?

The extreme image would be like seeing a 30-year-old self-appointed 10th dan with flashy gi and trophies lining the dojo...yet be speaking to the class on lessons of humility and the virtue of being humble. seems a bit false, when contrasting his actions to his words.

same sortof thing is my point, but I'm meaning less in the extreme - the more subtle.

The transfer of genuine humilty to false humilty seems a prerequisite in some measure for many that perhaps self-assume a roll of teacher pre-maturely. The lure of the status, money, power, security, ego, attention etc could be hidden beneigth a sheild of false humility.

It could even go more subtle - as in me self-deeming I have something interesting enough to say to create a thread on a public forum...and then adding something like "what are your thoughts?" as if to show enough humbleness to erase the pompousness it takes to create the new thread.

so...what are your thoughts?

#400306 - 06/25/08 07:44 AM Re: "humility"...and other funny stuff ;) [Re: Ed_Morris]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6665
Loc: Amherst, MA
Lots of stuff. Nothing particular to reply to...just streaming here. Your post brings up these questions:

1. Humility seems to me not to be an attitude, or even an action...but more of a 'point of view' to go about one's life. I don't see a dichotomy between openly teaching, or being a successful businessman and being humble in one's assessment of one's own strengths and weaknesses.

2. Does it matter if teachers are 'authorized' by their teachers to teach, and why bring years into it? Why is the decision to teach tied up with whether or not one is humble?

2. Who decides what is premature in teaching? From my point of view, teaching isn't confined by certificates. On one level, teaching 'happens' is the transmission of knowledge and not limited by rules or words.

#400307 - 06/25/08 08:45 AM Re: "humility"...and other funny stuff ;) [Re: harlan]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6665
Loc: Amherst, MA
In addition:

Seems to me that humility isn't so much important in in being able to learn. 'I'm a student forever' is being open to learning...not precluding teaching, or passing along what one has learned so far.

#400308 - 06/25/08 03:55 PM Re: "humility"...and other funny stuff ;) [Re: harlan]
Zach_Zinn Offline

Registered: 12/09/07
Posts: 1031
Loc: Olympia, WA
If I remember one of Chinen's dojo kun is something like "don't be too humble nor too prideful", sounds like common sense but in the MA i've noticed a "faux humility" attitude that dominates in certain circles.

Especially on forums when some people qualify everything they say by saying "but I am just a student" one in particular being referenced there

In an MA sense to me humility is just knowing what you are and are not capable of, and being honet with yourself and others about it.

#400309 - 06/26/08 03:33 AM Re: "humility"...and other funny stuff ;) [Re: Zach_Zinn]
chofukainoa Offline

Registered: 10/24/07
Posts: 146
Loc: tokyo, japan
Can humility also be a tactic? A way of "hiding one's weapons" and either avoiding a confrontation or surprising an opponent if one is unavoidable?

I think of a footballer like Christiano Ronaldo--how many more goals might he score if he weren't such a cocky b*st*rd and everyone weren't marking him just for that?

But then lording one's humility over another (probably what Nietzsche was referring to?) is not real humility, is it?

#400310 - 06/26/08 07:04 AM Re: "humility"...and other funny stuff ;) [Re: chofukainoa]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6665
Loc: Amherst, MA
What's that saying...'to hammer down the nail that is sticking up?' As far as species survival is concerned, it's obvious that our strategy includes using various behaviours as part of our toolkit. We learn what is 'culturally acceptable' for our little tribes.

Pick, pick, pick. Ever watch chickens, or cats or any animals in a group? There is a pecking order, defined behaviours that are acceptable...and repercussions for the cat's that 'don't play that game'. Sure, humility as a face to present to others has it's uses in certain situations. But I'm sure it's valued less by alpha males looking to establish terrritory. Maybe, even, it's devalued as a strategy useful only for the Beta types.

#400311 - 06/26/08 07:57 AM Re: "humility"...and other funny stuff ;) [Re: harlan]
puffadder Offline

Registered: 04/29/07
Posts: 250
Loc: UK
No matter how good you are (or think you are) there will always be someone, somewhere who will best you and take pleasure in 'beating the cockiness out of you'. The wise man walks humbly with head bowed and his vast talents hidden, known only to him.

#400312 - 06/26/08 10:29 AM Re: "humility"...and other funny stuff ;) [Re: puffadder]
ButterflyPalm Offline

Registered: 08/26/04
Posts: 2637
Loc: Malaysia
I'll rather be happy than right, anytime.

#400313 - 06/26/08 10:59 AM Re: "humility"...and other funny stuff ;) [Re: harlan]
chofukainoa Offline

Registered: 10/24/07
Posts: 146
Loc: tokyo, japan
I'd have to search around for a while, but I'm sure I remember reading somewhere how genetic testing has shown that a lot of offspring are produced by lower-ranking members of social animals because they slip under the radar and get down while the alphas aren't looking.

I think for humans it is a bit more complicated because in many cases reproduction is often a smaller part of the equation. Rich successful alpha types aren't necessarily more reproductively successful.

Here in Japan, there is also another saying I can't remember exactly now that goes something like "the nail that sticks out too much is left alone". That can mean either crazy people or loud, overbearing people that others defer to. The former really are best left alone. But I can't resist cutting the others down to size--it's something i've been trying to stop doing, actually!

#400314 - 06/27/08 02:19 PM Re: "humility"...and other funny stuff ;) [Re: chofukainoa]
Kujaku Offline

Registered: 10/04/05
Posts: 80
Loc: Rockville, Maryland, USA
You cannot teach humility to someone who is already humble. You teach humility to those who are not humble; and a person who lacks humility will not listen to someone who is humble, for they lack the drive to humble themselves. But when they do humble themselves, they are able to learn humility from one who is humble.

Basically, being humble and teaching humility is completely circular. Like the saying goes "make peace with your enemies, not with your friends" once a person is already your friend (or in this case, humble) there is no need to make peace (or in this case, teach them humility). But in order to make peace with your enemy you must "rule with an iron fist." In other words, to "rule with an iron fist" translates in this circumstance to taking a role of superiority, a role of guidance which all will respect. But to do this, you must at times act as if you are not humble.

Not many in today's society (atleast in the U.S.) will pay heed to the old guy with glasses in the corner trying to whisper orders and hope that people will listen. In order for this person to get people to listen, he must stand straight and act bold. He must show everyone his confidence and prove himself. But by doing so, you could say that he is not being humble. So really, its a catch-22.

Basically, what I am trying to say is, you cannot teach humility to someone who completely lacks humility if you take on the role of being a completely humble person. We are not humble for ourselves, we are humble for others. If we are humble for ourselves, then in reality we are not humble. Therefore, it does not matter if we may act "cocky" just so that we can teach humility, just so long as we are humble to those who are humble.

I hope that this made sense .
Proud student of Grandmaster Yong Sung Lee, founder of Hapmudo


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