“I’m Obviously Right”

If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.

Paul, The 1st Letter to the Corinthians

 The above verses occurs in an extremely interesting passage in the bible. The passage is interesting because it appears that in this chapter, Paul suggests that Christians ought to care more about building people up than about making sure they get their beliefs right. This suggestion actually reminds me of something Paul said in another one of his letters. Taken together, these two sets of instructions support some of the strictures I made in this post. But none of this has anything to do with the topic of the current post.

The title of this post is an attitude that accurately described my epistemic over-confidence while I was in highschool. This over-confidence, perhaps ironically, was directly a result of my ignorance. Getting rid of this attitude was one of the first things that I learned in college…or did I?

Recently, I have found myself thinking along these lines again. There is, however, a suble difference between my epistemic arrogance this time and the previous time. This time around, humbling myself cannot be the result of an external exposure to cogent arguments or new information.

In order to combat this “puffing up,” I need to charitably interpret the information that I am encountering. I have to maximize the rationality of the positions advanced. It does not appear that I can rely on the holders of that position themselves to present their position in the best light (Is that a part of my arrogance?).

But more than this is necessary. I must also remember my own epistemic sins. “Let he who is without sin….” This is something that I had not thought of previously. In the same way, then, that reminding ourselves of our own moral short-comings will help us not to unlovingly judge others, reminding ourselves of our own epistemic short-comings will help us not to unlovingly and arrogantly declare, “I am obviously right.”

One more thing: my “fake it till I make it” strategy has not been very effective by itself. I really do need to utilize the aforementioned two strategies to keep myself from turning into an epistemic prick, which is really just a prick in general.

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