"I am SO Humble!": On the Paradoxes of Humility

In Mark Alfano, Michael Patrick Lynch & Alessandra Tanesini (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Humility. New York, NY: Routledge. pp. 26-35 (2021)
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Humility is a paradoxical virtue. This should come as no great surprise. It doesn’t take much explanation for one to realize that if someone is boasting about how humble he is, then he probably is not humble. In fact, as we shall see, the paradoxical nature of humility has a long history, going back to at least Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century. While it may not be a novel claim that there exists an apparent paradox of humility, I will argue that there is more than one humility paradox, perhaps as many as five: the epistemic paradox, the paradox of self-attribution, the inculcation paradox, the agentic paradox, and the axiological paradox. All these paradoxes are distinct, yet seemingly intertwined. Upon examining them each in turn, we will be left with a Gordian knot of humility paradoxes.

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Brian Robinson
Texas A&M University - Kingsville


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