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Research Seminar in Post-Kantian European Philosophy, 2019/2020

Unless otherwise stated, Post-Kantian European Philosophy Research Group seminars take place on Tuesdays, 5:30–7:30pm in Room S0.11 (ground floor of Social Studies). All welcome. For further information, please contact tbc

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MAP Seminar: Alessandra Tanesini (Cardiff)

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Location: S2.77, The Cowling Room


In this talk I offer an account of arrogance as an attitude toward oneself where the senses of one's self-worth depends on feeling superior to others. Arrogance results in behaviours designed to enhance the self (e.g. boasting and bragging and arrogating entitlements) and to diminish other people (e.g. humiliating, intimidating, blocking their efforts). Arrogance can only be sustained by a large dose of ignorance. Arrogant people often have false beliefs about their abilities and avoid thinking about their possible shortcomings. Their arrogance is active because it is "deeply invested in not knowing" (Medina, 2016). I argue that some active ignorance is the output of motivated cognition that include the deployment of vicious epistemic sensibilities. In this talk, I focus on racial insensitivity as an example. Having argued that arrogance needs ignorance to sustain itself, I show that often it is only the privileged that can afford to be ignorant in the ways required by arrogance. I thus show how social privilege facilitates arrogance (by sustaining the ignorance that is needed by arrogant people). Arrogance in turn further widens inequality because it is manifested in discriminatory behaviours. These inequalities in turn entrench privilege. In short, arrogance, ignorance and privilege stand in mutually re-enforcing relation. I conclude the talk with some thoughts about possible ways for disrupting this vicious dynamic.

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