Have you ever felt like you were constantly surrounded by idiots or that you were superior to those around you? If either applies, then you may be a huge jerk and not even know it. Eric Schwitzgebel, a philosophy professor at the University of California at Riverside, shared his opinions on what makes a jerk on his blog recently. Here's an excerpt:
Thinking of other people as idiots plays into jerkhood in two ways: The devaluing of others' perspectives is partly constitutive of jerkhood. And perhaps less obviously, it provides a handy rationalization of why others aren't participating in your jerkish behavior. Maybe everyone is waiting their turn in line to get off the freeway on a crowded exit ramp and you (the jerk) are the only one to cut in at the last minute, avoiding waiting your turn (and incidentally increasing the risk of an accident and probably slowing down non-exiting traffic). If it occurs to you to wonder why the others aren't doing the same you have a handy explanation in your pocket -- they're idiots! -- which allows you to avoid more uncomfortable potential explanations of the difference between you and them.
I know a few people, including myself, who sometimes think that they're one step ahead of the dummies. Staying on this train of thought can be extremely dangerous because a) it underestimates those around you, and b) it gives you a very myopic view on life. I'm not here to dole out life lessons, but it would benefit all of us to slow down and eat a slice of humble pie now and then. You can read this full post on his blog here.