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Sat Jun 7, 2014, 07:42 PM

A theory of jerks (by Eric Schwitzgebel)

http://aeon.co/magazine/being-human/if-youre-surrounded-by-idiots-guess-whos-the-jerk/

Are you surrounded by fools? Are you the only reasonable person around? Then maybe you’re the one with the jerkitude

Picture the world through the eyes of the jerk. The line of people in the post office is a mass of unimportant fools; it’s a felt injustice that you must wait while they bumble with their requests. The flight attendant is not a potentially interesting person with her own cares and struggles but instead the most available face of a corporation that stupidly insists you shut your phone. Custodians and secretaries are lazy complainers who rightly get the scut work. The person who disagrees with you at the staff meeting is an idiot to be shot down. Entering a subway is an exercise in nudging past the dumb schmoes.

We need a theory of jerks. We need such a theory because, first, it can help us achieve a calm, clinical understanding when confronting such a creature in the wild. Imagine the nature-documentary voice-over: ‘Here we see the jerk in his natural environment. Notice how he subtly adjusts his dominance display to the Italian restaurant situation…’ And second – well, I don’t want to say what the second reason is quite yet.

--- Snip ---

The moralising jerk is apt to go badly wrong in his moral opinions. Partly this is because his morality tends to be self-serving, and partly it’s because his disrespect for others’ perspectives puts him at a general epistemic disadvantage. But there’s more to it than that. In failing to appreciate others’ perspectives, the jerk almost inevitably fails to appreciate the full range of human goods – the value of dancing, say, or of sports, nature, pets, local cultural rituals, and indeed anything that he doesn’t care for himself. Think of the aggressively rumpled scholar who can’t bear the thought that someone would waste her time getting a manicure. Or think of the manicured socialite who can’t see the value of dedicating one’s life to dusty Latin manuscripts. Whatever he’s into, the moralising jerk exudes a continuous aura of disdain for everything else.

--- Snip ---

Interesting tangential comment in here as well; I never knew the source of the word jerkwater: "The jerk-as-fool usage seems to have begun as a derisive reference to the unsophisticated people of a ‘jerkwater town’: that is, a town not rating a full-scale train station, requiring the boiler man to pull on a chain to water his engine."

http://aeon.co/magazine/being-human/if-youre-surrounded-by-idiots-guess-whos-the-jerk/

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Reply A theory of jerks (by Eric Schwitzgebel) (Original post)
petronius Jun 2014 OP
DonCoquixote Jun 2014 #1
Warpy Jun 2014 #2
excringency Jun 2014 #4
phantom power Jun 2014 #3

Response to petronius (Original post)

Sun Jun 8, 2014, 01:29 AM

1. a great quote for democrats

"And in social battles, the sweetheart will always have some disadvantages: the sweetheart’s talent for seeing things from his opponent’s perspective deprives him of bold self-certainty, and he is less willing to trample others for his ends. Social movements sometimes do well when led by a moralising jerk. I will not mention specific examples, lest I err and offend."

In other words, Barack tires to be a sweetheart, and as a result, gets trampled. Demcorats try to be fair, we get trampled, unles we have a jerk leading us like Bill Clinton.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #2)

Sun Jun 8, 2014, 10:21 AM

4. I was assigned

this book in a graduate seminar. When it came time to discuss this book my cohorts analyzed me through the lens of this work. Their findings, I am not an asshole, but I do have great potential.

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Response to petronius (Original post)

Sun Jun 8, 2014, 10:14 AM

3. I prefer "asshole" but I suppose "jerk" is safe for mixed company

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