April 3, 2007

In Defense of Self-Esteem

Jonathan Pearce at Samizdata makes a good point about self-esteem. Pearce freely admits "a lot of intellectually vapid rubbish has been written about this. For a lot of the time, it seems, 'self-esteem' is nothing more than a desire to be freed from judgment, hard work and effort."

Yet he worries about a "backlash" to which I'd admit which equates self-esteem with some of the goofy methods educators have tried to augment it. Pearce doesn't want the baby thrown out with the bathwater:

If you think about it, self-esteem is about the idea that as human beings, we are both competent to live and worthy of achieving happiness on this earth. This has nothing to do with a vague, dope-induced "feel-good" sort of sentiment, but is something quite different. Achieving happiness and believing that one is deserving of that is often quite hard. In a culture soaked in guilt about material wealth, where people are constantly told to feel bad about prosperity and "selfish individualism", it is actually quite gutsy for someone to stand against all this. If one thinks about it, self-esteem, properly understood, is a key component of the idea of human rights. If people are entitled to pursue happiness and the good life, then they need rights to protect and advance that. To believe in the idea of the sovereign individual, one has to believe that individuals are competent to decide their lives and also worthy of such. And a self-confident, happy and proud person is surely what a healthy, liberal civil society needs.

And. self-esteem is required to reject the foolish, anti-human ideas one encounters.

While you're on Samizdata, check out their awesome April 1 British apology to Germany and Pearce's timely (for ThreeSourcers) critique of certain members of the Objectivist community.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at April 3, 2007 5:41 PM

Good stuff! But then, you'd EXPECT me ["On Politics"] to agree.

In Pearce's critique I read nothing of Peikoff other than "I have little time for [him]." As for this Roger Donway, supposedly an Objectivist, he's wrong. Calling oneself an Objectivist doesn't make it so.

Posted by: johngalt at April 5, 2007 3:06 PM | What do you think? [1]