convivium wrote:conceit is explained as a sense of inferiority, equality, or superiority with respect to others. how does one understand a sense of equality or inferiority with others as a form of conceit (along the lines as feeling superior)?
I think what you mean is why do we refer to feeling equal or inferior to others as a conceit, when in normal language a "conceited" person is one who feels superior
- better than others.
The answer is that the term "conceit" is being used here in a slightly more specialised and possibly old-fashioned way. It means here a "conception" or the results of mentally conceiving. Have a look at a dictionary definition and you can see the different meanings clearly;
1. A favorable and especially unduly high opinion of one's own abilities or worth.
2. An ingenious or witty turn of phrase or thought.
a. A fanciful poetic image, especially an elaborate or exaggerated comparison.
b. A poem or passage consisting of such an image.
a. The result of intellectual activity; a thought or an opinion.
b. A fanciful thought or idea.
a. A fancy article; a knickknack.
b. An extravagant, fanciful, and elaborate construction or structure:
The colloquial sense of feeling superior to others is represented by (1) above. But the meaning in the Suttas is more like (4a) or even (5b).
There are 3 "obsessions" (gaha)
of craving, conceit, and views. They give rise to the three notions of "mine", "I am", and "my self". So conceit in this sense is the type of thinking which gives rise to the idea that there is a person existing. This person can be considered to be better than, worse than, or the same as other beings.