Self Respect and Practice

Respect - headstoneSelf-respect is your response (honouring) (giving due dignity) to yourself. Valuing respect is kin to esteem, admiration, veneration, reverence, and honour, while regarding something as utterly worthless or insignificant or disdaining or having contempt for it is incompatible with respecting it. When we respect something, we heed its call, accord it its due, acknowledge its claim to our attention.


Self-respect as part of moral agency

Why is respect morally important? What, if anything, does it add to morality over and above the conduct, attitudes, and character traits required or encouraged by various moral principles or virtues?

One general distinction is between respect simply as behaviour and respect as an attitude or feeling which may or may not be expressed in or signified by behaviour.

Self respect is an aspect of self-awareness. Respect necessarily has an object: respect is always directed toward, paid to, felt about, shown for some object. The Self.

Respect is a responsive relation, and ordinary discourse about respect identifies several key elements of the response, including attention, deference, judgement, acknowledgement, valuing, and behaviour.

Self-respect is your response (honouring) (giving due dignity) to yourself.

The idea of paying heed or giving proper attention to yourself which is central to self-respect often means trying to know who you are clearly, as you really are in your own right, and not seeing it solely through the filter of someone else’s desires and fears or likes and dislikes. Co-dependency issues and issues arising from abuse (of any kind) make this giving of proper attention to yourself very challenging, and according to some, set to failure and self-destructiveness. (This is sometimes called learned helplessness.) This is why it is important to get external help, join a self-help group so that additional input and confidence can be acquired.

So, respecting something contrasts with being oblivious or indifferent to your own self-respect; ignoring or quickly dismissing it, neglecting or disregarding it, or carelessly or intentionally misidentifying it.

When we respect something, we heed its call, accord it its due, acknowledge its claim to our attention.

 

Man holding respect banner
When we respect something, we heed its call, accord it its due, acknowledge its claim to our attention.

Self Respect is the foundation of moral agency:

While there is much controversy about respect for persons and other things, there is surprising agreement among moral and political philosophers about at least this much concerning respect for oneself: self-respect is something of great importance in everyday life. Indeed, it is regarded both as morally required and as essential to the ability to live a satisfying, meaningful, flourishing life – a life worth living – and just as vital to the quality of our lives together.

Self-respect is often defined as a sense of worth or as due respect for oneself; it is frequently (but not always correctly) identified with or compared to self-esteem, self-confidence, dignity, self-love, a sense of honour, self-reliance, pride, and it is contrasted (but not always correctly) with servility, shame, humility, self-abnegation, arrogance, self-importance.

Respect is Subjective and Objective:

Respect is thus both subjective and objective. It is subjective in that the subject’s response is constructed from her or his understanding of the object and its characteristics and her or his judgements about the legitimacy of its call and how fittingly to address the call. An individual’s respect for an object can thus be inappropriate or unwarranted, for the object may not have the features she takes it to have, or the features she takes to be respect-warranting might not be, or her idea of how properly to treat the object might be mistaken.

Reasons for Respect: reasons for other people to respect something

In respecting an object, we respond to it not as an extension of feelings, desires, and interests we already have, but as something whose significance is independent of us. Second, we experience the object as constraining our attitudes and actions. Third, our reasons for respecting something are, we logically have to assume, reasons for other people to respect it (or at least to endorse our respect for it from a common point of view). Respect is thus, unlike erotic or filial love, an impersonal response to the object.

Valuing respect is kin to esteem, admiration, veneration, reverence, and honour, while regarding something as utterly worthless or insignificant or disdaining or having contempt for it is incompatible with respecting it. Respect also aims to value its object appropriately, so it contrasts with degradation and discounting.

 

The Respect Bus

 


 

Image Credits: Jan Ziembicki, Lorie Shaull/flickr, JK the Unwise

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