Filotimo


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Nerds
Do nerds in general have more filotimo than non-nerds?


Filotimo seems to be a word in Greek that is not shared in western cultures. This is not to say that all Greeks actually possess filotimo - many demonstrably do not. This is also not to say that the quality of filotimo does not exist in other cultures - many people in the English-speaking world have filotimo, they just do not realise there is a word that describes it.


Many attempts have been made to define "filotimo" in English - google the word and see for yourself. Literally it means "love of respect", which is essentially meaningless. It is often described as "honour", but this is not accurate. Honour is an outward expression of respect, while filotimo resides within and is hidden most of the time. One aspect of filotimo involves putting aside one's own needs with no expectation of return. Filotimo is impressed on Greek children from a very young age and either grows with them or is rejected.


Filotimo is usually portrayed as a positive trait, and in terms of harmony within society it generally is. The problem comes about when one with filotimo deals with someone without. This often leads to behaviour by both parties that is perplexing to each other, or leads to one person taking unfair advantage of the other. For example, a Greek will invite a stranger to dinner and treat him to a lavish spread, but the same stranger will not understand why the Greek becomes deeply offended when he pays his half of the bill. Likewise, the people of Greece will have no problem at all with using the people of Europe to earn a living through tourism, but are genuinely confused when the same people will not bail out the country when it is in economic turmoil.


The concept of filotimo has entered my mind, as it is one way to describe the open source movement. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of nerds every day give quite considerable toil and effort towards coding for projects for no obvious gain. In many cases these same projects are eventually used by others for the purposes of creating profit, none of which flows down to the original coders. While it is not "filotimo" in its classic sense, it is not far from it.


Links

President Obaba attempting to describe filotimo.

A fantastic documentary on Filotimo by the Oxi Day Foundation

George Logothetis speaking on filotimo



© Steven and Andrea Kazoullis 2014