Arrogance is one of the worst characteristics of human consciousness. It is the by-product of the mind swimming in a cesspool of its own conceit. Noah Webster defined arrogance as, “The act or quality of taking much upon one’s self; that species of pride that consists in exorbitant claims of rank, dignity, estimation or power, or which exalts the worth or importance of the person to an undue degree; proud contempt of others; conceitedness; presumption.” We all probably know, or have met, at least one person in our lives who thinks he is God’s gift to the world. He believes he is always right and is superior to other people. He is very condescending and tries to downplay the achievements, or ideas, of others, to make himself look better.

Arrogance should not be confused with confidence. A person can be extremely confident without possessing arrogance. M. Farouk Radwan distinguished the two in this way, “Self-confidence is about knowing your strengths and weaknesses while arrogance is thinking that you are invincible or at least trying to appear as if you are” (2knowmyself.com). It seems that knowing only your strengths will render you arrogant, while knowing only your weakness will make you feel worthless. Confidence comes from knowing both and it is built upon such thing as facts, trust, reliance and assurance. It is tempered with humility, and it does not tear down others. We must also keep in mind that an arrogant person’s view of his strengths might be imagined, not real.

Do people know their own arrogance? According to Helmut Schoek “Often people who are arrogant are not aware of their own behavior or don’t want to recognize they are arrogant” (238). This is a sad state to live in, and must make relationships problematic and unpleasant. Who wants to be a partner with someone who is always right, and always putting them down? Who wants to be around someone who is overbearing and seeks to coerce people into doing what they want to do, with little or no regard for the other person’s feelings or best interests? How can you ever resolve disagreements when there can be no reasonable communication? The arrogant person is not going to accept the opposing person’s perspective, no matter how logical or correct it may be.

Could it be that the arrogant person is hiding his own feelings of inferiority? Radwan addressed this point as well, “A person who tries to give the impression that he’s invincible may be hiding some kind of vulnerability that he is feeling. If someone claims that he is a normal good person, there’s a good chance that he actually is, but if someone claims that he is superhuman then he is probably feeling exactly the opposite and is trying to compensate for it by appearing superior.” We have all probably witnessed this before. The person who multiplies boasting words is usually the one covering up his shortcomings.

When I think of arrogance, I think of a haughty six foot man standing in front of a carnival mirror. He looks at himself and thinks he is twelve foot tall. From a different perspective, he appears only twelve inches tall to someone else.

Footnotes:
Radwan, M. F. “Arrogance & Narcissism”. 1 Apr. 2011. .
Schoeck, Helmut. Envy. Indianapolis, Indiana: Liberty Fund Press. 1987. 237-238.
Webster, Noah. “Arrogance”. American Dictionary of the English Language. San Francisco: Foundation For American Christian Education. 1828. 184.
[This is a paper I wrote in 2011 as a sample research essay]