Definitions: Hubris

Definitions

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Hubris means extreme haughtiness or arrogance. Hubris often indicates a loss of touch with reality and overestimating one’s own competence or capabilities, especially for people in positions of power.

In its modern usage, hubris denotes overconfident pride and arrogance; it is often associated with a lack of humility, not always with the lack of knowledge. An accusation of hubris often implies that suffering or punishment will follow, similar to the occasional pairing of hubris and nemesis in the Greek world. The proverb “pride goes before a fall” is thought to sum up the modern definition of hubris. It is also referred to as “pride that blinds”, as it often causes someone accused of hubris to act in foolish ways that belie common sense. Victor in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein manifests hubris in his attempt to become a great scientist by creating life, but eventually regrets this previous desire. More recently, in his two-volume biography of Adolf Hitler, historian Ian Kershaw uses both ‘hubris’ and ‘nemesis’ as titles. The first volume, ‘Hubris’[7], describes Hitler’s early life and rise to power. The second, ‘Nemesis’ [8], gives details of Hitler’s role in the Second World War, and concludes with his fall and suicide in 1945.

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