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Without self-confidence we are as babes in the cradles. And how can we generate this imponderable quality, which is yet so... Options
Daemon
Posted: Sunday, March 10, 2013 12:00:00 AM
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Without self-confidence we are as babes in the cradles. And how can we generate this imponderable quality, which is yet so invaluable, most quickly? By thinking that other people are inferior to oneself.

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)
JohnBull
Posted: Sunday, March 10, 2013 7:01:42 AM
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I prefer to think myself not inferior to other people. But that doesn't, I fancy, answer the prissy conceit of a neurotic late-victorian novelist.
zerowolf
Posted: Sunday, March 10, 2013 8:42:29 AM
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Out of respect for Ms. Woolf I assume she's referring to human nature as opposed to promoting it.
MTC
Posted: Sunday, March 10, 2013 8:46:04 AM
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We have visited A Room of Ones Own and Woolf's argument before on December 11, 2012. See the following explanation from that thread:

MTC Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 2:58:59 AM
The quotation is a rhetorical question Woolf poses to herself in Chapter 2 of A Room of One's Own. I have selected key passages to help you understand her meaning. You can read the entire Chapter, or the entire work for yourself at the link provided at the end. Woolf sets out for the British Museum in search of "The Truth."

If truth is not to be found. on the shelves of the British Museum, where, I asked myself, picking up a notebook and a pencil, is truth?

................

Why are women...so much more interesting to men than men are to women?

...............

(While scanning a list of titles of books written by men about women she unconsciously doodles in her notebook.)

I had been drawing a face, a figure. It was the face and the figure of Professor von X engaged in writing his monumental work entitled THE MENTAL, MORAL, AND PHYSICAL INFERIORITY OF THE FEMALE SEX.

................

A very elementary exercise in psychology, not to be dignified by the name of psychoanalysis, showed me, on looking at my notebook, that the sketch of the angry professor had been made in anger.

.................

How explain the anger of the professors? Why were they angry?

..................

Nobody in their senses could fail to detect the dominance of the professor. His was the power and the money and the influence. He was the proprietor of the paper and its editor and sub-editor. He was the Foreign Secretary and the judge. He was the cricketer; he owned the racehorses and the yachts. He Was the director of the company that pays two hundred per cent to its shareholders. He left millions to charities and colleges that were ruled by himself. He suspended the film actress in mid-air. He will decide if the hair on the meat axe is human; he it is who will acquit or convict the murderer, and hang him, or let him go free. With the exception of the fog he seemed to control everything. Yet he was angry.

..................

Possibly when the professor insisted a little too emphatically upon the inferiority of women, he was concerned not with their inferiority, but with his own superiority. That was what he was protecting rather hot-headedly and with too much emphasis, because it was a jewel to him of the rarest price.

Life for both sexes — and I looked at them, shouldering their way along the pavement — is arduous, difficult, a perpetual struggle. It calls for gigantic courage and strength. More than anything, perhaps, creatures of illusion as we are, it calls for confidence in oneself. Without self-confidence we are as babes in the cradle. And how can we generate this imponderable quality, which is yet so invaluable, most quickly? By thinking that other people are inferior to one self.

..............

Women have served all these centuries as looking-glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size. Without that power probably the earth would still be swamp and jungle. The glories of all our wars would he unknown. We should still be scratch ing the outlines of deer on the remains of mutton bones and bartering flints for sheep skins or whatever simple ornament took our unsophisticated taste. Supermen and Fingers of Destiny would never have existed. The Czar and the Kaiser would never have worn crowns or lost them. Whatever may be their use in civilized societies, mirrors are essential to all violent and heroic action. That is why Napoleon and Mussolini both insist so emphatically upon the inferiority of women, for if they were not inferior, they would cease to enlarge. That serves to explain in part the necessity that women so often are to men.

This is the answer to Woolf's rhetorical question.


(http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/w/woolf/virginia/w91r/chapter2.html)
Anatolian
Posted: Sunday, March 10, 2013 11:58:20 AM

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I prefer having babes' daring than self-confidence.

"O mâhîler ki deryâ içredür deryâyı bilmezler" - Hayâlî
FounDit
Posted: Sunday, March 10, 2013 4:05:16 PM

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I'm curious.
Does anyone think that is true; that the truly self-confident person sees everyone else as inferior?

We should look to the past to learn from it, not destroy our future because of it — FounDit
Verbatim
Posted: Sunday, March 10, 2013 4:13:05 PM
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Daemon wrote:
Without self-confidence we are as babes in the cradles. And how can we generate this imponderable quality, which is yet so invaluable, most quickly? By thinking that other people are inferior to oneself.

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)


Seldom is context more important than in this instance. MTC highlighted more than enough of Woolf's struggle with her thoughts as she looks for answers at the British Museum.

What is essential though, is this paragraph: "Life for both sexes — and I looked at them, shouldering their way along the pavement — is arduous, difficult, a perpetual struggle. It calls for gigantic courage and strength. More than anything, perhaps, creatures of illusion as we are, it calls for confidence in oneself. Without self-confidence we are as babes in the cradle. And how can we generate this imponderable quality, which is yet so invaluable, most quickly? By thinking that other people are inferior to one self."

First of all, here we find a generous understanding by Virginia Woolf of human nature, fragile and constantly confronted by ever harder to face difficulties; in dire need for self-confidence to help it cope.
Next, we find indeed a question--not quite rhetorical--a question pointing at the fallacy of our approach as to how to gain the self-confidence (most quickly?)
It is as bitter a question as the answer she has readily available, another fallacy of the human approach: By thinking --"creatures of illusion as we are"-- that other people
are inferior to ourselves.

This is what we do best: measure ourselves with the convenient, illusory standard, the one that brings the most and fastest excuse for our failure to measure up to reality.
By Jove, we even find consolation in others' misfortune just as long it was bigger than ours!
Verbatim
Posted: Sunday, March 10, 2013 4:23:53 PM
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zerowolf wrote:
Out of respect for Ms. Woolf I assume she's referring to human nature as opposed to promoting it.


You got that right!
Christine
Posted: Sunday, March 10, 2013 4:56:37 PM

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Self-confidence comes when the main person(s), who is raising up the child, loves the child unconditional.

I am carrying my heart~I am carrying my rhythm~I am carrying my prayers~But you can't kill my spirit~It's soaring and strong (Paula Cole's Me Lyrics)***We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We ARE spirtual beings having a human experience.(T.deChardin)***There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. (Albert Einstein)



Christine
Posted: Sunday, March 10, 2013 5:00:33 PM

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FounDit wrote:
I'm curious.
Does anyone think that is true; that the truly self-confident person sees everyone else as inferior?


no. Superiority personality is really an inferiority when a mask on.

I am carrying my heart~I am carrying my rhythm~I am carrying my prayers~But you can't kill my spirit~It's soaring and strong (Paula Cole's Me Lyrics)***We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We ARE spirtual beings having a human experience.(T.deChardin)***There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. (Albert Einstein)



Romany
Posted: Sunday, March 10, 2013 6:53:44 PM
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Verbatim - as a woman, the nuance I get is slightly different to yours:but then, perhaps my feeling for Woolf herself might differ slightly, too.

Although she begin the paragraph with the words "Life for both sexes". I read the sentence about self-confidence is being using as a lead in to the next paragraph, in which she talks about gender roles throughout history and then posits a world in which women did not only exist as adjuncts or servants to men. Her frustration becomes evident, as does the wearyness I referred to in the previous Woolf thread.

Something which was to have a great effect on Woolf was that, thinking herself and other Bloomsbury women to be pioneers, she had had confidence, at first, that they would be able to forge a brave new world. They had only to point peoples eyes in the injustices of the system and people would rally to them. But then she discovered the workd of Aphra Behn which was to have a profound effect on how whe viewed the world.

She then understood how LONG women had been fighting, and that she and her supporters were not, at all, pioneers. Generation after generation of women, going back to the Fifteenth Century, had been flung in prison, fined, punished, reviled, ridiculed and accused of being mad just as she and her fellow-female scholars had. It was something that had been happening for centuries...and still it wasn't taken seriously and few steps had been taken.

This knowledge at first enrages, and then weighed heavily upon her.
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