On Jerking


What, exactly, is a jerk, in the sense of, “Wow, that guy’s a jerk!”? It’s an interesting question, and one that philosopher Eric Schwitzgebel defines as:

…someone who fails to appropriately respect the individual perspectives of the people around him, treating them as tools or objects to be manipulated, or idiots to be dealt with, rather than as moral and epistemic peers with a variety of potentially valuable perspectives.

He then goes on to use the Grinch to provide some examples and explains that a sense of mercy, among other things, is one of the essential things a jerk lacks.

I can basically agree with this. I know people, including a former manager, who easily fell into this category. He’d decry laziness among the staff, and would express puzzlement when we asked for breaks or talked about being overworked. Then he’d disappear into his office to do, as near as anyone could tell, basically nothing. He had no real sense of empathy. He was, basically, the clinical definition of a sociopath, though an especially boring one who lacked sufficient imagination to do anything more threatening than mess with someone’s work schedule.

Jerks are gonna jerk.

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