Friday, 27 June 2014

"W&P": The self-assurance of different peoples

Volume III part I chapter 10. 
"... only a German could be self-assured on the basis of an abstract idea- science, the supposed knowledge of absolute truth. A Frenchman is self-assured because he sees himself as devastatingly charming, mentally and physically, to men and women alike. An Englishman is self-assured on the grounds that he is a citizen of the best-organised state in the world, and also because as an Englishman he always knows the right thing to do and everything he does, because he is Englishman, must be right. An Italian is self-assured because he gets excited and easily forgets himself and everybody else. A Russian is self-assured because he knows nothing, and doesn't want to know anything because he doesn't believe you can know anything completely. A self-assured German is the worst of the lot, the most stolid and the most disgusting, because he imagines he knows the truth through a branch of science that is entirely his invention, though he sees it as absolute truth." 
I'm 1 of those people who think stereotypes (empirical generalisations) are relative, but not entirely wrong, and that it's OK to have stereotypes (which we all do) as long as we don't take them too seriously and are aware that they are not absolute. 
The passage above may or may not be right (I think there's some truth in it), but it's interesting nevertheless. 

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