Excerpt from the book Critical Thinking? Introduction to navigating the irrational
Like at all other personal practices, we look at this principle sub specie interioritatis, the internal point of view. To each his own. What does this mean? Justice and differentiation. Self-control. Awareness. Knowledge. Sound judgment. Tact. Understanding. A superior position. A superior observation.
Successfully and regularly applying this principle is the privilege of a few.
The smaller the situation, the more difficult it is to apply this principle, although this doesn’t mean that, especially today, we have an easy job in “big situations” like governance, for example, or in general when social structures are involved. A small situation is, for example, how I decide to speak with somebody in what situation.
Common thinking is that a “straight-up person” would be consistent in his behavior toward everybody. We don’t necessarily consider such people “straight-up” (which usually is meant to mean honesty, or “no bull-shitters” as the common folks tend to idolize them), but rather rigid who eventually breaks, often unexpectedly. Sticking to an inflexible style is a convenient and profitable way of not listening, not thinking, and not adjusting. Also, very often these “consistent no bull-shitters” simply cover up an intellectual inertia. The folklore created an arsenal of well-sounding motto for this: I do what I say and say what I do (if this were true, it obviously wouldn’t have to be stated), what’s on my mind is on my tongue, what you see is what you get and similar. Pathetic cover-ups in most cases, hiding weaknesses, fears, and uncertainties. The complementary opposite of “straight-shooters” (they both originate from the same root: lack of identity) are people who constantly try to please, thus treating everybody the same way.
A man with a deep sense of self doesn’t need these social cheats. How can one appreciate differences when one treats everybody the same? It shows just as little sophistication, finesse, intelligence, and taste as drinking only riesling to all dishes.
Only the most distasteful, the coarsest, and the stupidest would treat a 3-year-old the same way as a 12-year-old, an 18-year-old the same way as a 50-year-old, and so on. Only the feeblest mind would treat a lady the same way he treats a man; a marine the same way as a tailor; a spiritual man the same way as a mentally-handicapped man, or a king the same way as a farmer.
Nothing voids this rule of its legitimacy. Even if a particular king no longer qualifies for the function, the concept of the most superior representation of principles doesn’t lose its legitimacy. If quality is not present in actuality, it must be respected in its potentiality. The qualities of the soldier and the function it represents is more superior than merely being born as a male: not all males can reach that level, not all males qualify especially when we consider soldiers in the organic sense, as members of the warrior caste and not as today, as machine operators.
To each his own. Once we break this rule we evoke resentment. Nobody wants to be treated like the next one; everybody wants justice. Even the most vocal advocates of “equality über alles”, “we are all just human” and similar want special treatment, appropriate specifically to them and resent being treated uniformly or otherwise inappropriately. Needless to say the point is not to please everybody or to adjust to everybody – quite the opposite. This may seem paradoxical, but only from the individualistic point of view.
We can’t give more than what one deserves and we can’t give less. While the general rule is simple – always be courteous and nice – we must be conscious about praises, gestures, and especially about showing our respect. Not everybody deserves respect and not to the same degree. We mentioned earlier the attitude of small men toward quantity.
For differentiated men quantity is quite literally nothing. Today we need to be more ceremonial than ever since the structures are hollow and meaningless. Titles, wealth, social status: just façade, they no longer deserve respect by themselves; if life brings us together they only get our courtesy – to the appropriate degree.
Understanding our own position in the organic hierarchy is crucial. According to the solipsistic view the higher one stands, the more one is interested in and understands others. For those lower, the only orientation is virtues; this never fails. The higher one stands, the more trust one evokes in those lower, similarly to how parents by their superior knowledge evoke 100% trust in their children.(*) Men of quality are bound by virtues and ideals which serve also as unmistakable guides of orientation for respect and trust.
Experience in mechanical functions and roles are almost purely quantitative and bestows almost no qualities at all. For example in the business world if somebody has raised $15 million for his startup, he seemingly has superiority over those who haven’t, but want to.
The same goes for somebody who has grown a company from $0 to $5 billion in revenue or achieved any other KPIs. In actuality this doesn’t guarantee superiority even over those who want what they have and this is easy to see when we take a closer look at who trusts purely quantitative achievements: the clueless majority.
Real trust is evoked by real superiority in those who are capable of following. The mass from this point of view is a no-factor: they don’t recognize any quality thus they are incapable of judgments that may lead to trust and respect so, as we mentioned earlier, the number one rule is to avoid them as much as possible.
Sadly today this hardly applies any more, at least not for long, since education is standardized, technological changes are fast paced so kids catch up pretty quick and when it comes to life style or identity, there is not much left for kids to respect.