Is “better than” a modern human phenomenon?

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In the first lecture I brought up the question of whether being ‘better than’ is a fundamental human attribute, and commoditisation is merely the current way in which we express this ‘betterness’, in today’s modern capitalist society. We didn’t really get a chance to discuss this in class and I wondered what everybody else though about this?

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4 Responses to “Is “better than” a modern human phenomenon?”

  1. jeansykazadi Says:

    I liked this very interesting topic. The simplistic way of saying it will rather be: “I am better off than my neighbour?”
    I really don’t believe my being better, happy, or content has any bearing on my neighbour’s living standard. The only possible comparison will be on materialistic ground since I can’t read or understand my neighbour’s inner. True happiness should relate therefore to a person and their environment, but not compared to their neighbour. BE HAPPY FOR YOURSELF, NOT HAPPIER THAN YOUR NEIGHBOUR!
    Jeansy

  2. rlinton Says:

    I think I now understand where Massimo was coming from when he said that this was a modern phenomenon. I believe he was suggesting that before capitalism, there was the commons. As we talked about in the lecture, the commons has the key elements of “sharing” based on pooling of resources, a level of social of co-operation of labour, community, which seem antithetical to this “better than” phenomenon. Personally I don’t think it is antithetecial, but I’m coming to that from a psychology perspective.

    However, all of this has lead me onto an interesting thought. Even with capitalism there is still the commons which “need” to be destroyed by primitive accumulation/enclosures in order to sustain the might of capitalism. Does this mean that all things being equal, people will revert to the commons?

  3. chikaj Says:

    Inherent in every human is the desire to be the best; to maximize their potential and this need not to be comparative e.g. Being in best physical shape by going to the gym should be motivated by good health and not appearing better than another.
    I am of the opinion that capitalism promotes this competitive ideology of “better than”.
    Pre-capitalist societies would have enjoyed communal living, sharing and self satisfaction; a far cry from capitalism.
    A lay man’s definition of this concept (capitalism) will encompass competition, acquisition, greed.
    So long as we live in a capitalist driven world, “better than” will surely persist.

  4. diatezuam Says:

    There is no corresponding tendency to see the self as above-average on human uniqueness traits. In order words, we tend to see ouserlves as warmer, more emotional, civilized and refined. By implication, the average person is seen as more robotic, but not more animal-like, than the self. Self-humanizing is also distinct from the tendency to see oneself as having more desirable attributes than average (the well-known “better – than- average” effect). In fact, we have found that people see themselves as having more undesirable human nature traits than average.

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