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The Intellectual Virtues: Humility

Lisa Eekhoff| August 26, 2019

Know Thyself

It is the Achilles’ heel of a robust and rigorous education: pride.  This sneaky companion creeps in largely unnoticed at first, but it is always there just out of sight, prompting students to dismiss ideas that are not their own, to gloat over grades that surpass their peers’, and to believe themselves to have nothing left to learn about a topic.

We must be aware of and combat this tendency at every turn. But it is important to note that the antidote, intellectual humility, is not simply thinking of yourself as the least intelligent person in the room.  Rather, it is attempting to see clearly who you really are, understanding both your capacity and your limitations.

In this endeavor, it is important to consider to whom we are being compared.

When we look to the intelligence of our neighbor as the standard, we are likely to come up with a deceptively high or low view of ourselves.  Instead, we should remember who we are in relation to an infinite and omniscient God.

“We should remember who we are in relation to an infinite and omniscient God.”

As image-bearers of God we are given the ability to know and apply truth, but we have also been corrupted by the effects of sin.  We can no longer think and reason perfectly. Therefore it is important to keep a healthy skepticism not only of our own thinking but of human reasoning as a whole. 

Only then will the one who is truly intellectually humble be free to experience the joy of knowledge and insight regardless of where it may be found.  He lives in a world full of depth and richness, unencumbered by the weight of pride and ego. She values truth over her own need to be right. 

In that moment, one becomes truly capable of learning.

About the Author: Lisa Eekhoff is the principal at Covenant Classical School in Naperville, IL.

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