Man's Need To Feel Better Than Someone Else

This is the main board for discussing philosophy - formal, informal and in between.

Moderator: Only_Humean

Forum rules
Forum Philosophy

Man's Need To Feel Better Than Someone Else

Postby Matthew E. » Thu Feb 20, 2003 5:03 pm

I imagine that most people who read the title will at first want to disagree with my observation. I know I would. But then there are the times when I catch myself taking solace in another's shortcomings. At these moments I feel extraordinarily guilty, but none-the-less, for a few moments I reveled in my superiority over another human. Whether it be athletics or a social setting (such as being considered "cool" or even funnier than another).However, as I grow older, I feel more grateful for my amount of fortune rather than superior.

Will mankind ever be able to break away from such an insidious disorder?

Why is there an intial desire to feel more powerful than someone else?

In the process of writing this, I think I have started to answer my own questions (peculiar how that happens isn't it?). I'll try and breakdown my conclusions so anyone out there can help steer me in a better direction if one exists.

1. Humans have desires
2. Some of these desires have only finite resources which can satisify them (such as sex with a beautiful woman. There are only so many)
3. Competition is therefore created.
4. Power is created out of competition. (If I have a Ferrari and the girl likes Ferrari's, I now have an edge or "power" over you in our competition)

Conclusion? Because we all can't have everything we want, some of us have to suffer. So I suppose the only way to make the world a perfect place is to somehow give everyone everthing they have ever wanted.

Well now that the hard part is out of the way...
"Behind every great fortune there is a crime."
- de Balzac

"Give a woman an inch and she thinks she's a ruler."
-Anonymous

"Absence is to love what wind is to fire; it extinguishes the small, it enkindles the great."

- Comte DeBussy-Rabutin

"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."
-Winston Churchill
Matthew E.
Thinker
 
Posts: 629
Joined: Mon Jan 27, 2003 1:09 pm
Location: Laguna Beach, California

Postby Magius » Sun Mar 02, 2003 7:55 am

Very insightful post Matthew *applause*,
it takes a person true to themselves and to others to utter the words you have sincerely shared with us here. We all catch ourselves taking solace in another's shortcomings, at one point or another in our lives, but not all of us feel extraordinarily guilty.

Whether it be athletics or a social setting (such as being considered "cool" or even funnier than another).However, as I grow older, I feel more grateful for my amount of fortune rather than superior.


Than you are truly wise in your years, no matter how old you are, for most people don't become grateful for their fortune and die with their jealousies.

Will mankind ever be able to break away from such an insidious disorder?


For the few, I believe so. But generally for all mankind, I am extremely skeptical, though I do have a feint hint of hope burning in my heart.

Why is there an intial desire to feel more powerful than someone else?


Inadequacy, survival instinct, as well as what you stated in your paragraph following the above quote. Many believe that if I don't take the opportunity now, someone else will take it. The dog eat dog world mentality. What most don't realize is that if we all think this way it leads nowhere. It's the same as "i won't do anything cause no one else will". But if we all do nothing there is no point. Someone must start most new beginning, emphasis on the 'one' in the word 'someone'.

Furthmore, some people are just so insecure and feel inadequate, that the only way they feel good about themselves is when they put another down. It enpowers them. Personally, I find such people repulsive, you would be surprised how many people in my area are like that.

In the process of writing this, I think I have started to answer my own questions (peculiar how that happens isn't it?).


Indeed, most of things I have thought of that I think carry great credence to all aspects of life, were thought up while writing down the question I had. Sometimes, by the time I was done writing the question, I already had an answer and simply continued to paragraph in explaining my answer to my question. Artists have a style they use for inspiration, called Free Writing, where you just start writing about anything and everything that enters you mind with no focus on grammer or spelling or structure.

1. Humans have desires
2. Some of these desires have only finite resources which can satisify them (such as sex with a beautiful woman. There are only so many)
3. Competition is therefore created.
4. Power is created out of competition. (If I have a Ferrari and the girl likes Ferrari's, I now have an edge or "power" over you in our competition)

Conclusion? Because we all can't have everything we want, some of us have to suffer. So I suppose the only way to make the world a perfect place is to somehow give everyone everthing they have ever wanted.


I don't think you realize the significant similarity between what you wrote above and Darwin's Natural Selection (preservation). You may want to have a read into Darwins theories if you are interested.

What's your take?
User avatar
Magius
Magnanimous
 
Posts: 1489
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2002 7:08 am
Location: Ontario, Canada

Postby cba1067950 » Mon Mar 17, 2003 4:46 am

There are positive aspects to this concept though that are important to note. Otherwise you take the chance of falling into a form of the thing that you are arguing against. Ignoring them will only lead to the idea that you have become better than them. Hmm I feel I'm not explaining that clearly enough but I give up.

Examples would be motivation as someone can use their past experiences of losing as motivation to succeed in the future.

Another would be competition for a better whole. One fails the rest learn from the mistake and move improve upon it.

Also as Magius said
Furthmore, some people are just so insecure and feel inadequate, that the only way they feel good about themselves is when they put another down. It enpowers them.
Another reason why it is good. It's a matter of whether the gains were as large as the losses. Although I'd much rather not reduce emotions to gains and losses I'd like to raise the point that had someone not discovered a technique of feeling important they might've done something destructive. Say someone takes a dictator role because that is the ultimate form of complete power but they do it because they couldn't get enough of it in life.

But that brings up the "problem" of raising kids in a type of cookie cutter environment. It also raises the idea that people might not learn what exactly they have if they aren't repressed enough. Which would lead to the variations of the idea of a utopia.

Also keeping the current system is a problem though. It may infact be the cause for the person to want to be powerful.

I had more but typing it up took time so I couldn't get it all out in time. I think I'll leave it here. Heh it's kind of ironic how we're having this discussion on a message board. This could potentionally be the perfect place for this type of system to flurish. If people were to rally behind opposition towards a particular belief then one would feel outcasted whether they are "shortcoming" or not wouldn't matter. It's the popular ideas that matter. I find comfort in knowing that you can justify just about anything therefor making most discussions trivial at best. Which is probably the explanation for my absence as of the last few months.
cba1067950
Philosopher
 
Posts: 1305
Joined: Sun Jun 30, 2002 5:24 am
Location: New York

last man standing

Postby theoutsider » Sat Apr 26, 2003 4:29 am

i believe that it is very natural, and instinctive for us to feel superiority over other people. I believe that this instinct comes from our undying need to be right. I believe that the only "truth" in our world is one's own truth, and what one believes. And the only reason this truth comes into doubt is because of the presence of other people, and essentially other "truths," which cast doubt on what we know, and prevent us from being fulfilled with the knowlege that we hold the truth. Now this relates to your post in some ways, because we, holding our truth, will automatically rejoice in the shortcomings of others because it obviously strenghens our own beliefs, and takes the legs out of others, bringing us that much closer to realizing the truth. concluding my theory, i believe that the only way that one will come to realize the truth is by being the last living conscious in the world, that way there will be no more doubt. i call it the last man standing theory.. i know it has many flaws but i'd like to hear some opinions from others. - chris saldanha
theoutsider
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Apr 26, 2003 4:16 am
Location: Ontario, Canada

Postby Magius » Sun Apr 27, 2003 7:13 pm

theoutsider stated:
i believe that it is very natural, and instinctive for us to feel superiority over other people.


I'm not too sure what you mean by 'natural', do you mean common, or in our nature? Which can be taken generally, as in we all instinctively feel superiority over others, or it could be taken in relation to human beings as a trait that we all possess but don't necessarily use. Elaborate on this if you can. You say that it is instinctive for us to feel superiority, I cannot help but hear the connotation that you think it is good for us. I just want to make sure that I understand, since, most of our instinctive reactions have been shown to be bad ones. This is why we promote rational, logical, and patient thought. If we always acted on our instincts we would still be going around killing each other at the slightest hurt feeling, jumping our sexually desired people, stealing, etc. Ofcourse, some instincts are good, but the question here is whether feeling superiority over another is a good one. Personally, I don't think it is. In a democratic society with principles of equality, fairness, rights, etiquette, etc - it brings about situations of inequality, unfairness, violation of rights, and a corrosion of etiquette as well as the fabric of society. If we were still roaming around like monkeys in a jungle then I would agree that the instinct is good for us, because it would help us survive. In a society we survive better by feeling good about ourselves and by initiating teamwork.

theoutsider stated:
I believe that this instinct comes from our undying need to be right.


I wouldn't say that we have an undying need to be right, I would say we have an undying need to feel safe. See, we feel safe when we assume we know things to be true. We feel very threatened when someone tells us we are wrong. If you have been going about talking to people your whole life assuming they actually like or care about you, it would really hurt to find out that they all hated you and only talked with you because you possessed something they wanted. But this is exactly where we must differ, human beings are smarter than that and we need to realize that the best way to life is an open minded one where you are open to any interpretation and a fair reflection on each one. Only this way can you present yourself with an adequate number of sources from which to logically and rationally choose from. Otherwise, you will be constricted to few sources without an indepth understanding and will come to have fallacious beliefs that become hardened over time. We must realize that Plato was right when he said he knew nothing, we all know nothing. Which is to mean that we can only do with the best we got, and if we want to have any kind of progress we have to stay open minded to different ideas which will all have their positives and negatives, but we must find a way to find their significance to our relative positions and make use of them.

theoutsider stated:
I believe that the only "truth" in our world is one's own truth, and what one believes.


I couldn't agree more. But your truth is affected by your heuristics in life. If you constrict yourself to few views or ideas, your ideas will be meager at best. Making the best with what one has, means that one goes through as many sources as they can in order to find the truth about the thing. Keeping in mind that it will never be an absolute truth, one is left with a constant awareness of things and a curiosity that will last you a lifetime about the things in this world and the plethora of possibilities for each of them.

theoutsider stated:
And the only reason this truth comes into doubt is because of the presence of other people, and essentially other "truths," which cast doubt on what we know, and prevent us from being fulfilled with the knowlege that we hold the truth.


The presence of other people isn't the ONLY reason ones truth comes into doubt. Experience is another, as is our own consciousness. Have you never had a thought that you found to be contradicting one of your other beliefs, but wasn't initiated because of the presence of another person? Furthermore, has it never happened that you assumed something to be true, lets say about nature, and one day you found nature to be acting in a differing way from what you believed? The reason these don't become apparent to you at first glance is simply because they don't bother us AS much. We don't have such a problem having nature contradict something we believed because we feel that nature is our basis, and if it says otherwise than it must be so. There is no arguing with nature. Moreover, we don't take issue with ourselves when we have a contradictory thought, we usually label the thought and say something like "that was a stupid idea, I wonder where I got it from". But we don't take it personally and get angry at ourselves for thinking that thought, not usually atleast. But when it comes to people, there are feelings at stake and we know that people are not always honest. We also know that some people would do us harm instead of good. Which is strange, because usually the people who present the least amount of threat and emanate trust throughout them, are not respected by society in general - they are seen as WEAK. But those who present themselves as threatening get all the respect and are seen as STRONG.

theoutsider stated:
Now this relates to your post in some ways, because we, holding our truth, will automatically rejoice in the shortcomings of others because it obviously strenghens our own beliefs, and takes the legs out of others, bringing us that much closer to realizing the truth.


That doesn't follow, just because we wish to be right, doesn't mean that it follows that we rejoice in the shortcomings of others, nor does it mean it strengthens our beliefs. It just means we don't care about one another which is one of the greatest problems on this planet. See, if I care about you as a human being and I believe I am right and that you are wrong, it makes no sense for me to rejoice in your shortcomings. Instead it makes sense for me to speak with you and tell you my logic for my beliefs so that I can make you come to the same understanding and conclusion which WOULD strengthen my beliefs because you also believe it and may go onto spread MY truth to others. Hurting people, or proving them wrong doesn't help us come closer to realizing the truth, it promotes egoism which is usually later translated as weight for an argument, you will hear things like "I have convinced 30 people that I am right, therefore I am right". Which is a fallacious argument.

theoutsider stated:
concluding my theory, i believe that the only way that one will come to realize the truth is by being the last living conscious in the world, that way there will be no more doubt.


There will still be your own doubt that will come with time and experience. It is exactly those who put others down to convince themselves they are right that are most susceptable to being wrong and feeling inadequate. Because their views aren't thought out whatsoever, it takes very little to show them to be wrong. Which usually leads them to going back to someone whom they see as weak whom they know they can go to and beat up on or berate. This was illustrated in many husband/wife abuse cases - where the husband would be shown to be wrong at work about something, he would come home and beat his wife and feel better about himself. This is what you are promoting theoutsider. The wise person realizes that there will ALWAYS be doubt, whethere there are a hundred billion people on the planet or one. Personally, I believe that there isn't a single thing about which we know everything, if there was, it would unlock the answers to the whole universe.

What's your take?
User avatar
Magius
Magnanimous
 
Posts: 1489
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2002 7:08 am
Location: Ontario, Canada

Postby Grave Disorder » Tue May 06, 2003 12:43 pm

Perhaps the desire to compete could be turned to productive uses, for example an emphasis on intellectual superiority rather than physical, cultural or material would solve a lot of problems in the world today. I suppose that, like everything else with human nature, this is a double-edged sword.
User avatar
Grave Disorder
 
Posts: 161
Joined: Tue May 06, 2003 9:47 am
Location: Manchester UK

Postby Magius » Fri May 09, 2003 1:44 am

Grave Disorder,
I agree that it is a double edged sword, but I would be interested to hear about your ideas on how intellectual superiority would solve a lot of problems in the world today...

What's your take?
User avatar
Magius
Magnanimous
 
Posts: 1489
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2002 7:08 am
Location: Ontario, Canada

Postby Grave Disorder » Fri May 09, 2003 3:04 am

Well, it would at least involve an incentive to learn and think, whereas the other forms I mention tend to encourage people to beat each other up, entire countries to beat each other up or people to screw each other over for profit, in that order.
I think a desire to convince (rationally) others of your ideas would lead to discussion and analysis- which are constructive forces- rather than physical competition, which is destructive. The strongest ideas will withstand debate and enrich society, whereas the weaker ones will be rebutted. This is at least what I like to think, my previous post was the first time I'd really thought about this matter.
User avatar
Grave Disorder
 
Posts: 161
Joined: Tue May 06, 2003 9:47 am
Location: Manchester UK

Postby HVD » Tue May 27, 2003 1:20 pm

Why was this locked? Reopened.
HVD
Thinker
 
Posts: 580
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2002 1:00 am
Location: England

Postby Umm like yea wot ever » Wed May 28, 2003 5:16 pm

they are some good comments magius.

Perhaps, life its self is all a test on your own desiring will;
to compete and compare-for ones own ego.
Even judging country's(insomuch as we compare people), is a reflection of ones ego. In alliances, history, wealth and size.

Perhaps its why u laugh, when a mans pumped up ego is shattered by tripping over the pavement, infront of many passing by.[we all must have a wicked side-laughter]
"While men are dreaming they do not perceive that it is a dream. Some will even have a dream within a dream. And so when the great awakening comes upon us, shall we know this life to be a great dream. Only fools believe themselves to be awake now"
Umm like yea wot ever
 
Posts: 28
Joined: Wed May 28, 2003 4:24 am
Location: Lake district

Postby Silhouette » Wed May 28, 2003 8:47 pm

Survival of the fittest surely?

I desire to be fitter than you so that compared to you, my potential competition, I have the edge and stand a better chance of survival. Its innate.

Like for greed and all those other '7 deadly sins' that stupidly ur supposed to deny (despite them being innate) because of society's great repression, you are supposed to feel guilt. You are supposed to feel regret and guilt for laughing at another's short comings because you wouldn't like ppl to do the same to you because ridiculing makes one feel bad and insufficient ie less 'fit' for survival. Its how a human has adapted to work these days. You are supposed to not appear 'cocky' or arrogant to others because they don't want to be ridiculed even though its innate for u to do so, hence why u can't help it.
~So sayeth your benevolent sovereign lord~
User avatar
Silhouette
Philosopher
 
Posts: 2999
Joined: Tue May 20, 2003 1:27 am
Location: Existence

Postby Theoreticality » Thu May 29, 2003 3:45 am

I would first like to commend the insights of those who posted on this topic before mine. Your ideas and elaborations were very enlightening. I can relate to this post rather well being a sophomore in high school. This is not to say that every high schooler is concerned only with being cool or superior, or that this attitude is not constantly conveyed in all stages and ages of life. However, in my school there is a lot of deragotory talk towards others and back-biting, all of which has the intent of convincing another that the one doing the talking is in some way better or superior to the one being talked about. I find this rather amazing, in that I believe the cowardice of lying behind someone else's back actually belittles one into inferiority. I must say that indeed, there is a will in all men to at least sometimes feel that one is in someway better, superior, or more accomplished in some way that another person. I definitely believe this would fit into a survival of the fittest mentality because if one feels superior to another they believe they will survive longer than they other and in some sense "win" at life. Indeed, most feel the desire to be better than another, this is only part of human nature, and it is perhaps the biggest contributor to man's lack of ability to totally unify. I realize that I contributed no new ideas, nor did I advance this discussion any, however I felt the need to put my thoughts into this conversation. Thank you for taking the time to read and consider my writing. Peace and respect to all.
"If the meaning of life is not suffering, then it is the most ill-adapted to its place in the universe." -Arthur Schopenhaur
Theoreticality
 
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Mar 08, 2003 6:10 am

Postby Anastasia » Tue Jun 03, 2003 12:22 am

Funny, I was just thinking about this very thing today.

There is someone I know of online who, in her attempt to be openminded, to be a cause fighter, comes off very simply as a self righteous and, in my mind, bitter person. She tries her darndest to be anti everything, from her religious practices to her political views, she makes the conscience effort to make sure she is on the complete opposite spectrum as everyone else. In doing so she has a set list of rules for herself, of philosophies, and if anyone violates them, they are automatically on her inferiority list.

It puzzles me, this kind of behavior, I do not understand how acting like that could ever make anyone happy. In terms of people wanting more, I certainly disagree that giving them everything would prevent them from their need to act better than everyone else. The more you give something to someone, the more they want, it never ends. People confuse the desire to be happy, content, with worldy things, with jobs, with cars. They want to fill their lives up with stuff because there is something missing within themselves, it's that same old cliche.

Who cares how much you have, it is who you are that matters. I do not feel inferior because my neighbor has a smaller waist than I do, I do not covet anyones status. So, when someone wants to act better than me, I let them, if it makes them feel better to think that I give a rats behind about anything they have, so be it. I am concerned with people, with hearts, minds, and souls. I suppose I have a bigger problem with people wanting to brag to me about stuff I consider to be worthless (clothes, tight abs) instead of something worthwhile like healing emotional scars or reaching out to others in need of companionship.

Maybe I just resent the fact that I consider myself to be a very empathetic, sensitive person and everyone else treats me like a freak of nature for not having the remote desire to make other people feel below me. I am sorry, I try not to play that game, I do not think it is natural, I think it is bullshit, and it pisses me off. Excuse my language, but I tire so easily of this race to be better than everyone, what is the big deal? Am I missing something here? People are different, not better, or maybe I'm truly delusional.

(shrug)

ETA in response to survival of the fittest, the idea that feeling superior enables you to think you can 'win' in life, etc. There is no winning in life, there's no losing either, there's just different experiences with different lessons. I've already won, and I've already lost too, it's just a matter of when I'm going to die.

See, I'm a happy, cheery person!

:wink:
Anastasia
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Jun 03, 2003 12:05 am


Return to Philosophy



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: gib