Why call this blog Narcissism of Small Difference


“The Narcissism of small differences” is a term coined by Sigmund Freud in 1917. It is used to describe the manner in which we form a disagreement towards others, despite those others resembling us in many ways, we focus on the way in which their view diverges in some small way from our own.  It is the “small differences” that distinguish us from them and which we take delight in. I have heard some psychoanalysis claim that even in a loving relationship we need to find a point at which we disagree or diverge from others in order to maintain our separateness as distinct identity as persons. But I don’t have much of a view on that other than to say that I am quite happy to merge myself into the other.

I use the term to describe the debates that occur in academic departments whereby despite very general agreement over issues, people get hung up over the small minutia where they disagree.  So whilst we may both agree that moral language expresses beliefs, and that those beliefs are made true or false by how well they fit the world, and that typically to judge that some action is morally right is to be motivated to act in accord with that judgement, I may go on to say that there is no inherent link between judging something to be right and to be motivated in that direction and you may say that there is. This difference will then appear enormous as it is the point on which our views separate us whilst from the bigger picture we are pretty much in agreement.

However I called the blog by that name pretty much because I liked the sound of the term.

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