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without detection; for instance,1 proficiency in prophecy, philosophy, or medicine. Because these arts have the two qualities specified they are the commonest fields of pretence and bragging. [14]

Self-depreciators, who understate their own merits, seem of a more refined character, for we feel that the motive underlying this form of insincerity is not gain but dislike of ostentation. These also2 mostly disown qualities held in high esteem, as Socrates used to do. [15] Those who disclaim merely trifling or obvious distinctions are called affected humbugs, and are decidedly contemptible; and sometimes such mock humility seems to be really boastfulness, like the dress of the Spartans,3 for extreme negligence in dress, as well as excessive attention to it, has a touch of ostentation. [16] But a moderate use of self-depreciation in matters not too commonplace and obvious has a not ungraceful air. [17]

The boaster seems to be the opposite of the sincere man, because Boastfulness is worse than Self-depreciation.8.

But life also includes relaxation, and one form of relaxation is playful conversation. Here, too, we feel that there is a certain standard of good taste in social behavior,

1 The true text very probably is ‘for example “physician or seer sage,”’ a verse quotation.

2 Just as boastfulness is chiefly shown in pretending to qualities of value.

3 Aristotle regards the cheapness and simplicity of the Spartans' dress as an affectation; or perhaps the reference is to ‘Laconizers’ at Athens who affected Spartan manners.

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