Are you aware of any philosophers who have attempted a classification of arrogance?

For example, I envision arrogance as a comparison with 1) a subject, or 2) other people.

An example of #1 is a person who thinks he or she knows all there is to know about philosophy. Truly arrogant.

The second example descsribes a person who says "I know more about philosophy than YOU do" or "I know more about philosophy than anyone." Depending on the wording, this could be an example of arrogance or a simple statement of fact.

A third type of arrogance is what I call "internal arrogance." Many philosophers analyze themselves and may be overcome with guilt and frustration ("Why did I do that stupid think I did when I was younger?!).

In contrast, some people feel no personal remorse at all, because they arrogantly believe they can do no wrong.

Again, I'm interested in what philosophers have said about this topic, with a special interest in types of arrogance I haven't listed above. My question isn't confined to "notable" philosophers; I'm fishing for any intelligent appraisal of arrogance.

P.S. I have discovered one (partial?) classification scheme that's quite different from mine here.

  • 1
    Sounds like you are asking a question about psychology, not philosophy. – user4894 Sep 19 '18 at 1:23
  • If I was interested in the psychological aspects of arrogance, I would have posted my question on a psychology forum. Now if you want to claim that philosophers have had nothing to say about arrogance at all, feel free to make your case. – David Blomstrom Sep 19 '18 at 1:51
  • P.S. I edited my question with a link to a page describing a book about arrogance - apparently written by a philosopher. – David Blomstrom Sep 19 '18 at 2:25
  • M. Scott Peck's books on narcissism and evil may be relevant such as People of the Lie. When I think of arrogance that is what I think of. Paul Ricoeur's The Symbolism of Evil may be relevant. Unfortunately, I don't think I know enough about this to answer it at least at the moment. – Frank Hubeny Sep 19 '18 at 13:57
  • A person who thinks he or she knows all there is to know about philosophy is only arrogant if they are wrong so that cannot be a definition or exemplar. I find arrogance difficult to define and it seems easily confused with confidence and even humility. I'd say it's something to do with not taking other people's views and situations into account, as if they do not matter. . . – user20253 Sep 19 '18 at 16:09

Arrogance is a moral term, hence a moral concept, hence amenable to conceptual analysis.The question is properly philosophical and has been discussed in the philosophy journals.

Here is the start of an analysis :

Our provisional conclusion is that arrogance does include a high opinion of one's talents and abilities, and it typically also includes, as an inference from this, a high opinion of one's excellence as a human being. But simply having these beliefs, whether they are true or false, is not sufficient for arrogance. The difficulty at the root of belief accounts of arrogance is that they focus only on one individual, namely the arrogant person himself. This is the wrong approach, because arrogance is essentially an interpersonal matter. It consists in a particular way of regarding and engaging in relations with others. In order to see this, we must focus on the arrogant person's interactions with others, because these interactions reveal the arrogant person's attitudes toward the relationships she stands in with those others. They also reveal his view of the norms that govern, or should govern, those relationships.


In summary, the arrogant person has a high opinion of himself. He differs from the self-confident person in drawing certain conclusions from that belief, conclusions about his normative status in relation to others. What he concludes about his normative status is not (necessarily) that he has more intrinsic moral worth, or more numerous or stronger moral rights, but rather that he is a better person according to the general standards governing what counts as a successful human specimen. His perceived status as a more excellent human being shapes his relations with others. Since he is superior to others, he does not regard others as having anything to offer him, nor does he believe they have the ability to enrich his life. The views and opinions of others are not of interest to him, and he treats them with disdain. Others owe him, in virtue of his excellence, a special sort of deference. He therefore establishes hierarchical and nonreciprocal relationships with his fellow human beings. These relationships are marked by a lack of the mutual enrichment that is, as we will explain below, an essential component of true friendship. We have been describing arrogance thought of as a character trait, but arrogance typically has a behavioral component as well. The arrogant person is disposed to act on the beliefs and attitudes we have described. The lack of reciprocity in his relations with others is manifested in the disdain he displays toward, and the deference he expects from, his fellow human beings. His conviction that others have nothing to offer him is shown in his haughty and dismissive behavior.

Our analysis of arrogance dovetails with ordinary language use of the word. There are, however, two additional sources of support for our view. First, it illuminates the conceptual and empirical connections between arrogance and related notions such as vanity, self-confidence, and insecurity. Second, it yields a plausible explanation of why arrogance is considered a vice, an explanation with roots in Aristotle's moral theory. (Valerie Tiberius and John D. Walker, American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 35, No. 4 (Oct., 1998), pp. 379-390 : 381-2.)

There isn't space here to explore Aristotle's views, unfortunately, but I include further philosophical discussions of arrogance below.



Megan Staffel, 'Arrogance', ew England Review (1990-) Vol. 34, No. 2 (2013), pp. 167-171.

Immanuel Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals, trans. H. J. Paton (New York: Harper & Row, 1964), pp. 95-98.

Bert Keizer, 'Medical Arrogance', The Threepenny Review No. 125 (SPRING 2011), p. 33 .

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.