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Humility and Truth

Deirdre McClosky

The virtue of humility asks that we listen to the witness of God in every person. Nowadays humility is often confused with the sin of self-abnegation, the abuse of God’s gift of life. And it is contrasted unfavorably with the sin of pride, taken in Romantic theory to be a virtue. In science and scholarship--for example in the science of economics--humility is necessary for excellence. But it is rarely practiced, and stands out when it is. Oddly, a “conservative” species of economics, so-called “Austrian” economics, recommends that we see successful businesspeople as simultaneously humble and great-souled, in balance. Romantic Pride, as in Milton’s Lucifer, persists in the idol-worshiping of modern atheists. As the self-flagellating nun is proud she is not proud, the modern secularist is proud that he is not humble before God. Both are mistaken.

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