Notes on Honor

Taken from Syntopicon Vol 1

The notions of honor and fame are sometimes used as if their meanings were interchangeable, and sometimes as if each had a distinct connotation.

Well, yeah. I would never have thought that they two were in any way directly related. It seems more often that famous people are dishonorable and honorable people are rarely well know outside of a relatively small circle.

The authors who see no difference between a man’s honor and his fame are opposed on fundamental issues of morality to those who think the standards of honor are independent of the causes of fame. This opposition will usually extend to psychological issues concerning human motivation and to political issues concerning power and justice. It entails contrary views of the role of rewards and punishments in the life of the individual and of society.

I guess I fall into the latter camp.

The meaning of honor seems to involve in addition the notion of worth or dignity. But whether a man is virtuous or not, whether he deserves the good opinion of his fellowmen, does not seem to be the indispensable condition on which his fame or infamy rests. Nor does his good or ill repute in the community necessarily signify that he is a man of honor or an honorable man.

Yes, this is pretty much where I stand, but then the author goes on it say this:

Where others consider what it means for a person to be honorable, Nietzsche substitutes the notion of nobility. Nietzsche’s hero, the superman, is noble.

I would not have guessed that Nietzsche’s superman is either noble or honorable. I always thought that he is nearly the opposite of both.

“The manifestation of the value we set on one another,” writes Hobbes, “is that which is commonly called Honoring and Dishonoring. To value a man at a high rate, is to honor him; at a low rate, is to dishonor him. But high and low, in this case, is to be understood by comparison to the rate that each man setteth on himself.”

A good groundwork definition of honor, though maybe missing something.

“Let men rate themselves at the highest value they can; yet their true value is no more than it is esteemed by others.”

My gut reaction is to use this quote as a proof against having unrealistic self-esteem. This is dynamite and the kind of thing that will drive modern people into a murderous frenzy because it minimizes their self worth and makes true worth something external to them. Full chapter.


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