History and Arrogance

I awoke this morning with thoughts of my project for the Sentience book and the ideas that somehow sentience is tied up with arrogance.

Arrogance, what is the definition of this?

c.1300, from O.Fr. arrogance (12c.), from L. arrogantia, from arrogantem (nom. arrogans) “assuming, overbearing, insolent,”prp. of arrogare “to claim for oneself, assume,” from ad- “to” +rogare “ask, propose”

Online Etymology Dictionary

If one arrogates something to oneself one takes it as a right, and claims it over and above the claims of others. Arrogance is a claim for precedence. Putting oneself ahead of others, or as its defenders might say ahead of the pack. It is interesting etymologically that rogation comes from the act of stretching one’s hand out, or, in today’s parlance, panhandling. The beggar is asking for something the arrogant one is taking it for themselves.

There are differing threads in my mind, Jean Auel’s book the Clan of the Cave Bear details a pre historic world in which homo sapiens and homo neanderthalis confront one another: two sentiences in the same environment separated into tribes and clans. Each with differing ways of thinking, but homo sapiens with a project of dominance a fundamental arrogance.

The world is confronted by America; and its policies arrogate certain rights to itself. Even within American politics over the past 60 years we have seen the rise of the total Presidency. The arrogation of more and more powers to the President, even while maintaining democratic changing of the presidency. Within this change though there has been a remarkable strain of consistency in the centralizing of power in the presidency. This centralization has led in the current Administration to a President who has arrogated the power to kill without trial individuals anywhere on the planet, except the Homeland.

Political power comes out of the barrel of a gun.


A man with a gun is a different man. A woman with a gun is a different woman. How is it that a gun changes the substance of who you are? In a world where you take up the gun, you take up power for yourself over others, even if they are unspecified in you mind at the time that you take up the gun. You arrogate a right to yourself.

Me against others. This is the tribal mindset. Our group against another group. And we love a strong leader. Pogroms, ethnic cleansing, Apartheid, these are the violent outbursts of this mindset. It is my worry that the world I am bequeathing to my children is a world in which they will need to confront and resist a new rise of this type of thinking.

In Spiral Dynamics, Don Beck and Chris Cowan posit a structure of values. Marx and Engels posited a spiral structure of history. Spiral Dynamics points to a spiral of ascending values, a human potential with a hopeful outlook, fundamentally a Pollyannish view of history. Marx thought that Dialectic Materialism was in some sense determined, and as the dynamics of capitalism gave rise to its contradiction, the victory of communism was historically certain. Also a certain hopefulness. When we look at human history, not to mention Neanderthal history, with a clear eye we cannot see an inevitable march in any direction. For lack of a better metaphor of history we could say history cycles around Lorentz attractor nodes of organization which gives rise abundance of resources, leading to states, money, and eventually capital, and disorganization which gives rise to scarcity, small tribes and packs, barter. The higher values succumb when the dominant attractor is disorganization. Most of current dystopian literature focuses around scenes of societal disorganization.

Words: 610


Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>