I’ve come to notice that there are differing attitudes about the concept of regarding people as “heroes”. It seems there is one school of thought which wishes to have heroes to romanticize and deify, and another school which is more skeptical of those presented as “heroes”, criticizing and analyzing them.
To the former school belong such philosophers as Ayn Rand and Thomas Carlyle, among many others. To the latter school belong… well I’m not precisely sure who, though I suspect if you read the people the former school despised, you will find some examples.
I myself tend to be skeptical of those people who are presented as heroes. I think that even people who did great things often had flaws, or even more seriously, their actions had unintended side-effects. But these qualms of mine philosophers of the Romantic sort would brush aside as the complaints of a whining second-rate person. A “thinker”, not a “doer”, as they say.
To be clear, there are many people throughout history whom I admire very much, and who I think did great things. But there is something that does compel me to look for flaws even in these people, whereas others would say we should simply admire their greatness.
I think a lot of this is related to the debate over criticism in general I blogged about a few months ago. I’m not sure what the significance of any of this is exactly, but after reading about Carlyle the other day it set me thinking about it.
P.S. I can’t help but feel this post is a bit incoherent, but I’m posting it anyway.