Updated: May 2
Edward Gibbon's short history of christianity, within his Decline Of The Roman Empire, is such a curious read. In it he relates how early bishops of initially independent church's begin to wield influence, initially over others within their church, and then over each other.
It is curious because it points to a certain human tendency to set ourselves into hierarchies. That for whatever reason, positive or negative, certain people reach positions of authority over others, and the majority are influenced by the few. In villages, cities, states, kingdoms, fiefdoms, empires, countries, schools, and workplaces.
We seem to do this naturally on one hand. Possibly as an efficient tool of organisation in any merit based system. On the other hand we tends towards this equilibrium due to self interest, frequently at the expense of others. In Gibbon's analysis it is definitely an end result of competition that is not necessarily in the collective interest like Adam Smith's Invisible Hand.
I wonder that it is propensities like these that make empathy difficult. That cause us to see some people as superior or inferior - according to arbitrary social, educational or commercial symbols of status for example. And it hinders our ability to want to relate. History certainly seems to bear witness to this illusion of self importance.
25th February, 2022