Sep 17, 2021

Pride and vanity

Ambition and the desire to be superior are symptoms of both -- pride and vanity.
  • Pride: Alexander learned everything of the intellectual life, at the side of one of the greatest thinkers the world has ever known -- Aristotle. He came to the ways of a truly rational human being, and he thrived in them. He saw how much better it made him than other people. And so pride grew. Pride places your own opinions, especially your opinions about yourself, above those of anyone else. Pride is the inordinate desire of one’s own excellence. Many of Plutarch’s anecdotes show that Alexander measured himself, not by the opinions of others, but by what he believed a virtuous man would do. Since he wished to see himself as virtuous, he did nothing that he would consider base: 
    • "But Alexander, esteeming it more kingly to govern himself than to conquer his enemies, sought no intimacy with any one of them [captive women], nor indeed with any other women before marriage, except Barsine." --- Plutarch’s Life of Alexander
 
  • Vanity: The vain person places his self-worth in what others think of him. That is how the vice of vanity is related to the adjective “vain” meaning “useless”. It is useless to care excessively about what others think of us. In the end, we can’t control what they think, and vanity locks us into a cycle of trying to please everyone, which, we all profess, we can’t do. So we end up dissatisfied with ourselves, and we blame the world.
    • "His conduct displayed many great inconsistencies and variations, not unnaturally, in accordance with the many and wonderful vicissitudes of his fortunes; but among the many strong passions of his real character, the one most prevailing of all was his ambition and desire of superiority." -- Plutarch’s Life of Alcibiades

 

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