“Philosophy, if it cannot answer so many questions as we could wish, has at least the power of asking questions which increase the interest of the world, and show the strangeness and wonder lying just below the surface even in the commonest things of daily life.”—Bertrand Russell
Objective Observation Vs. Common Arrogance. The Common Man.
"No man will admit to being the common man."
Everyone thinks they’re special. Everyone wants to believe that in some way they’re more introspective and aware than the people around them. So how does one reflect on this? On one hand, maybe my thoughts and perspective are less valid and substantive than the rest of yours. Maybe we’re all on the same intellectual level, incapable of grasping the enormity of sentient human potential, and are therefore naive enough to believe that we are individually, intellectually self-actualized.
On the other hand, biology insists on change. Each person has their own set of skills, and some people are better equipped for success than others. That being the case, the human species falls into a broad spectrum of capability. Objectively speaking- some people are going to be faster than others, some people will be stronger than others, and some people are going to be more intellectual than others. Is it arrogant to deduce yourself to be superior to the common man? How much evidence is required to award yourself a higher intellectual rank than those around you? Is it fair to claim that pondering the boundaries of reality is more intellectually valid than watching Jersey Shore?
While there is argument to be made, I don’t believe an answer is readily available. Without firsthand access to the thought processes of our peers, all notions of superiority or deficiency are held within our own biased perspective. As such, our myopic declarations of intellectual superiority will never escape the shadow of presupposed arrogance.
With no objective ground for definitively stating superiority, the only road to cover is the alternative. What if you are just the common man? What if there are intellectual superiors, and you don’t happen to be one of them? There is no harm in being the common man, so long as your human potential is acknowledged. The danger is in contentment. By acclimating yourself to your circumstance, you lose the motivation to excel.
If I do happen to be the common man, I shall continue to live in the fashion that I have; questioning and adapting, fulfilling higher levels of my potential. It is in this way that our species transcends from what it is, to what it will be. This is also the means by which the common man combats the common man. The pursuit of self actualization is actualization in itself.