- 1. The quality of being humble or having a lowly opinion of oneself; meekness, lowliness, humbleness: the opposite of pride or haughtiness.
- b. with pl. An act of humility or self-abasement.
- 2. Humble or low condition, rank, or estate; unpretentiousness, humbleness.
- 3. A local name of several N. American birds of the family Scolopacidæ.
The term "humility" is derived from the Latin word "humilitas", a noun related to the adjective "humilis", translated not only as "humble", but also alternatively as "low", or "from the earth", and "humus", humid. Because the concept of humility addresses intrinsic self-worth, it is emphasized in the realm of religious practice and ethics where the motion is often made more precise and extensive.
Kant is among the first philosophers to view conception of humility as "that meta-attitude which constitutes the moral agent's proper perspective on himself as a dependent and corrupt but capable and dignified rational agent". Kant's notion of humility is that humility is a virtue, and indeed a central virtue.
Mahatma Gandhi is attributed as suggesting that attempting to sustain truth without humility is doomed to cause it to become instead an "arrogant caricature" of truth. Some other schools of thought, such as Ayn Rand's Objectivism, have seen self-abasement as antithetical to morality.
[a wise person] acts without claiming the results as his; he achieves his merit and does not rest (arrogantly) in it: -- he does not wish to display his superiority.
Nietzsche wrote of humility (not to speak of patience, wisdom, and any other virtue lauded widely by the masses) as a weakness, a false virtue which concealed the frailties and hidden crookedness in its holder. His idealized ubermensch would be more apt to roam around unfettered by pretensions of humility, proud of his stature and power, but not reveling idly in it, and certainly not displaying hubris.
"Happy are the poor in spirit--the humble."--To a child, happiness is the satisfaction of immediate pleasure craving. The adult is willing to sow seeds of self-denial in order to reap subsequent harvests of augmented happiness. In Jesus' times and since, happiness has all too often been associated with the idea of the possession of wealth. In the story of the Pharisee and the publican praying in the temple, the one felt rich in spirit--egotistical; the other felt "poor in spirit"--