Pride and humility

It is possible, and admirable, for someone to be both filled with pride and humility? Should pride be valued?

Some Christians — namely Pastor John Murray whom I spoke with while he was preaching in response to an LGBT pride event — think of pride as a sin – a polar opposite of humility. One with pride, some think, may not be humble. Pride, some Christians believe, should be looked upon with disdain while humility — absent of any pride — is cast as a virtue.

Can one view both pride and humility as virtues?

As is the case with many virtues, pride and humility are best thought of and practiced with moderation. Rather than only considering ‘extreme examples’ and the harm which may be associated with ‘virtues in the extreme,’ consider benefits of pride.

Pride often can indicate a positive attitude and healthy self-esteem. Individuals who are proud of — for instance — overcoming difficult challenges can reflect on the process with which they coped with adversity and transcended barriers. In this case, individuals with good self-awareness and an understanding of good problem-solving approaches can gain motivation and be more successful in the future when facing seemingly insurmountable challenges.

Pride, though, can also be a vice. Individuals can become overconfident, fail to acknowledge areas in which improvement can be made, and neglect focusing on processes which lead to positive results. Too much pride, or an overuse of the word ‘pride,’ can diminish what — some may say — ‘genuine pride’ can be like. A person who frequently says they are proud of all their accomplishments, rather than selecting a handful, may diminish the importance of hard work and the process by which success was achieved.

Be proud, but don’t gloat. Understand that while you may be confident, areas for improvement often exist. Convincing yourself that you do not require or want help from others can lead to seclusion, distrust of others, and missed opportunities for learning.

On the other hand, too much humility can lead a person to be under-confident and passive. Those with too much humility may not credit their personal efforts for their successes in life – instead thinking fate, chance, or an external entity was responsible for success.

Consider being filled with pride and humility. Don’t allow others to shame you into casting away pride. Be humble, be proud of your achievements, and give credit where credit is due.

As always, feel free to comment below and consider reading another take on pride and humility authored by Dan Fincke [I didn’t read it prior to this posting, but will after publishing.].

Justin Vacula

Justin Vacula hosts the Stoic Philosophy Podcast; serves as co-organizer and spokesperson for the Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA) Freethought Society; and has hosted monthly Stoic Philosophy discussion groups for the Humanist Association of Greater Philadelphia. He has appeared on and hosted various radio shows and podcasts; participated in formal debates and discussions; was a guest speaker for college-level courses; was featured in local, national, and international news; and has been invited to speak at various national, local, and statewide events. Vacula received bachelor's degrees in Philosophy and Psychology, a minor in Professional Writing, and the distinguished W.A. Kilburn Memorial Award for Philosophy from King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He is currently living in the Scranton, PA area attending Marywood University's graduate-level Mental Health Counseling program and has worked with the Arc of Luzerne County's Transition to Community Employment program as a teacher's assistant and job coach alongside adult learners with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He also plays poker; volunteers as a member of the website and media team for the Greyhawk Reborn Dungeons & Dragons campaign while playing at events in the Eastern United States; and enjoys metal music.

  • SubMan USN

    While proud of my service to my country and the things I’ve done I also realize that I didn’t cure cancer or unify quantum mechanics with General Relativity. Pride can be useful in maintaining a positive self image, but as with most things, excess or unwarranted pride can be harmful.

    Humility is the balancing force for pride. It is what should keep unwarranted pride in check.