Theory of Jerks


The jerk himself is both intellectually and emotionally defective, and what he defectively fails to appreciate is both the intellectual and emotional perspectives of the people around him. He can’t appreciate how he might be wrong and others right about some matter of fact; and what other people want or value doesn’t register as of interest to him, except derivatively upon his own interests…. The moral and emotional failure of the jerk is obvious. The intellectual failure is obvious, too: no one is as right about everything as the jerk thinks he is. He would learn by listening. And one of the things he might learn is the true scope of his jerkitude – a fact about which… the all-out jerk is inevitably ignorant.

Aeon Magazine seems to be running a “greatest hits of the year” at the moment, and  Eric Schwitzgebel’s “A Theory of Jerks” is among them. (We discussed “jerk moves in philosophy” when this article originally came out, early in the summer.) A good choice.

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