It seems to me an insurmountable set of problems, those involved in the judgement of other persons. There is none who could claim to be free of vices; he who is honest might find himself with lackadaisical dispositions; she who is hard-working might be uncomfortable in social situations and therefore act in a rude manner; he who indulges in high pleasures – as opposed to low pleasures, assuming the distinction can be made – might be arrogant or ignorant about politics.
Compounding with our glaring habit to esteem ourselves far too highly and not to hold others with as much regard as it is due to them, we have a bias when it comes to judge the worthiness and importance of our habits or knowledge. I am one who likes to spend my evenings in the companion of the great minds of the past – Montaigne being my most recent crush.
While I do think there are good arguments to be made in favor of studious and intellectual habits, such as engaging with great literature or great philosophers, I am under the impression that condemning others for not having them, either privately in my own mind or publicly among their acquaintances or even themselves, is not the most preferable disposition.
Imagine for a moment an idyllic, unpretentious, and learned old man. He would never condemn others for not being intellectually admirable, and he would only comment upon it as an earnest suggestion (of a change of habits) or an expression of his love for high pleasures. I suppose he would only condemn those bad of character, with nefarious intentions. Why would someone get so bothered with idyllic, unpretentious, and unlearned persons, as to condemn and think little of them?
Now, does that not sound like a perfectly agreeable disposition? If it is, why would I choose to be in the constant habit of condemning others for their faults? Unless they are genuinely bad of character, I should not indulge in thinking little of those not fond of intellectual matters. To be sure, that means they are not on par with the best moral philosophy has to offer, and therefore will not have the chance to act upon it, nor will they have refinement of taste or a deep understanding of human psychology, but what of it?
It is not just because someone has less than ideal habits that they are to be condemned.
As is usual of my meditations, the resulting essay is not free of leaps of logic nor entirely consistent. I cannot say I am not bothered by the fact, but I have more pressing issues to take care of now. Like reading Montaigne.