[Arrogance] A type of extreme or foolish pride
"Arrogance" focuses specifically upon
(i) an attitude of superiority that is exaggerated and undeserved,
(ii) a lack of self-questioning, and
(iii) a tendency to look down upon others.
Arrogance involves making false claims about one's knowledge and skills, and, in the process, losing genuine contact with both oneself and others. In essence, arrogance is a mask that misrepresents the subject to both itself and its objects. It is boastful. It has a hard texture that repudiates one's "softer" and more humane sides. It wishes to stab the onlooker with a shining knife of hostility.
A teacher researcher in history had made a reflection encouraging my classmates and me to take an interest in plants following our inability to tell the difference between ivy leaves and laurel leaves. Since I was already interested in wild plants and I create my laundry detergent from ivy leaves every month, I found that the teacher had been tactless. He seemed to know the difference that we couldn't see (only bay leaves in a small picture were projected) without showing us that he really knew: was it oleander? Was it oleander? Was it laurel from Portugal?
Having talked to many people in my class, I was surprised at the wide variety of backgrounds they had and I suspected that many people were not interested in plants. That's why the phrase "maybe we should be interested in them!" uttered by the teacher in a tone (with the hindsight I now have) showing a slight impatience and exasperation had made me think.
Above all, this event, which does not seem to be one at first glance, had taken place while I was in what people call an "existential crisis". And over time this cogitation became irritation. Being then crashed by a desire to change the world, I ended up, after several weeks of reflection, by sending an email to this teacher where I said I shared my thoughts about a question he had asked me during an oral presentation: what job would I like to do later?
In the email I tried to explain that: "you don't have to be a historian to know that you don't need a job to live" by using the example of a young French woman who spent less than 100€/month and managed to live decently, without abundance, by working as a seasonal worker for 3 to 12 weeks/year. And I had added that she had done this because she had "decided to live every moment of her life rather than consume them".
Following this email, I spent several weeks believing myself invincible, superior, a superhero capable of changing the world and I performed many small actions (such as picking up all the cigarette butts from a streetcar stop while waiting for it to arrive or talking to lots of strangers in the street) which, combined with a lack of sleep, only made me tired and increased the energy I spent on these small actions and my willingness to change the world.
I never asked myself if it was really useful, necessary or good. But as I thought it would help to fight against this affluent society that artificializes nature and contact between human beings, I did it. This "struggle", this goal that I had set for myself had almost become the only thing I had in mind. And this objective had allowed me to find the answers to all possible questions (from a philosophical and existential point of view). Being in possession of answers to which I paid particular attention, it only strengthened my will to change the world. I think I set myself this goal because I wanted to avoid a "personal struggle": mourning someone close to me.
This desire to change things led me to look down on people who spent a lot of money on goods and services that were either energy-intensive (from a physical, fiscal and temporal point of view) or of little use.
I don't think I misrepresented my knowledge or skills during this period, but I still think I lost all real contact with myself and many people for a few moments.
I don't know if everything I felt was really arrogance or not. In any case what I am describing is not a mask but rather feelings that I was masking. Sometimes hard feelings that repudiated my "soft" and human side. The hostility that I contained was a sharp contrast to the harshness in its struggle against softness and appeasement.