In Book X of Confessions (chapter 39), Augustine writes about various ways of being proud. One is to think that my goods, including my good characteristics, are, indeed, mine. For example, someone might say, â€œBasically, I am a good person,â€? assuming that she has genuine insight into the good, and that â€œgoodâ€? applies to her and is innate to her existence or has been acquired by herâ€”the self-made person. Or a person might think that he has some good, but that it was given to him because of his meritâ€”he seems to have Pharisaic behavior in mind. Or someone could have a good and rejoice in it as a gift from God, but nevertheless begrudge that same gift to others, perhaps refusing to share it with others, perhaps hoping that others don’t also obtain it. I recognize what Augustine is talking about in this third case, but the only particular instances that come to mind are, unfortunately, personal, and I have too much pride to embarrass myself by making them public.
What Augustine says strikes a chord with me. All three of these are cases of pride, and as President Benson pointed out, â€œprideâ€? is never used positively in scripture. That is enough at least to make us leery of thinking pride to be a virtue. In spite of that, however, I wonder whether Augustineâ€™s thinking about pride is too much influenced by his belief in creation ex nihilo, particularly his thinking about the first kind of pride? If I am an eternally existing beingâ€”a common LDS understanding of our (non)originâ€”then isnâ€™t it likely that some goods are innate to each individualâ€™s existence?
The problem is figuring out what goods those might be. In spite of the theoretical possibility (probability?) of goods innate to the individual, I can think of none that clearly are. What might they be and is it possible to take pride in them?