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Author Topic: Generosity - a 'pagan' virtue?  (Read 8547 times)
BGMarc
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« Reply #15: February 06, 2009, 10:34:53 am »



I think we're all on the same pge. Coming up with a rationalal justification for something that we really believe is unjustifed = bed. Reaching an understanding that allows one to experience something as OK = good.
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« Reply #16: February 06, 2009, 10:35:36 am »

I guess like any method, its moral worth depends on the moral worth of the end it serves.

I think both Shadow and I agree that rationalising bad things is bad because it makes it easier for us to do them again. Apart from that I'm not sure if we have the same emphasis in other objections. Shadow might object, for example, to bad rationalisations because they're a form of hypocrisy and deception (not sure if Shad actually does though). I'm more concerned with how it muddies your thinking about conventional moral standards (irrespective of whether you choose to conform or not). YMMV!

Put me down for both on those. Smiley

I think they're bad thinking, I think they're hypocrisy and deception, I think it muddles thinking.  I think that if it's something we're willing to do, we should do so honestly - and if we're not, we shouldn't.  Putting pretty clothes on a pig doesn't turn it into a dancing girl.
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BGMarc
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« Reply #17: February 06, 2009, 10:46:47 am »

Put me down for both on those. Smiley

I think they're bad thinking, I think they're hypocrisy and deception, I think it muddles thinking.  I think that if it's something we're willing to do, we should do so honestly - and if we're not, we shouldn't.  Putting pretty clothes on a pig doesn't turn it into a dancing girl.

 I agree totally. Stoics repudiate the justification of a vice by means of rationalisation; however, we constantly seek rational understandings of manifest reality that avoid the suffering casused by ignorance.
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« Reply #18: February 06, 2009, 10:59:34 am »

I agree totally. Stoics repudiate the justification of a vice by means of rationalisation; however, we constantly seek rational understandings of manifest reality that avoid the suffering casused by ignorance.

Rational understanding isn't the same thing as rationalization, through.

are you using them the same?
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« Reply #19: February 06, 2009, 11:03:22 am »

Put me down for both on those. Smiley

I think that if it's something we're willing to do, we should do so honestly - and if we're not, we shouldn't.

Except I don't inherently have an objection to using bad rationalisations on other people, as long as I don't end up believing what I'm saying.
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« Reply #20: February 06, 2009, 05:06:13 pm »

I think both Shadow and I agree that rationalising bad things is bad because it makes it easier for us to do them again.

I think there is (for lack of better terms) "honest" rationalization and "dishonest" rationalization. The former is finding a logical/rational reason for what you do. The latter is convincing yourself that you are justified in doing bad thing X because you than think up some logical reasons that seem to support it. An example of "dishonest" rationalization are the arguments that waterboarding those you think are terrorists is okay because if it was the only way to get information about an A-bomb the terrorist had planted in a major population center few people would object. (Since many people would consider it okay in that unlikely situation, the dishonest rationalization is that it is okay for general use.)
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« Reply #21: February 06, 2009, 05:34:45 pm »

Rational understanding isn't the same thing as rationalization, through.

are you using them the same?

I saee them as essentially the same process, but applied at different times and with different intent. The distinction that I see between the 'goo' and 'bad' instances is the place of action. I support using rationalisation followed by the action that it demands, an I think we are both opposed to rationalisation used after an action as justification when the rationalisation has not formed part of the actual reason for the action.
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"If Michelangelo had been straight, the Sistine Chapel would have been wallpapered" Robin Tyler

It's the saddest thing in the world when you can only feel big by making others feel small. - UPG

Stupidity cannot be cured. Stupidity is the only universal capital crime. The sentence is death. There is no appeal and sentence is carried out automatically and without pity. Lazarus Long.

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« Reply #22: February 06, 2009, 05:36:42 pm »

I saee them as essentially the same process, but applied at different times and with different intent. The distinction that I see between the 'goo' and 'bad' instances is the place of action. I support using rationalisation followed by the action that it demands, an I think we are both opposed to rationalisation used after an action as justification when the rationalisation has not formed part of the actual reason for the action.

ah.  I see "thinking rationally" as quite different from "rationalization" - trying to figure out what the best path is, or what's going on, is just plain thinking. Smiley

Using it as an excuse to do something you shouldn't, or to explain why you did something, is very different.  IMO.
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« Reply #23: February 06, 2009, 07:49:38 pm »

ah.  I see "thinking rationally" as quite different from "rationalization" - trying to figure out what the best path is, or what's going on, is just plain thinking. Smiley


I've been following this thread and am beginning to wonder if "rationalize" might not have different connotations outside of American English.

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BGMarc
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« Reply #24: February 06, 2009, 08:39:01 pm »

I've been following this thread and am beginning to wonder if "rationalize" might not have different connotations outside of American English.

It has the same negative connotation in Australian English, where it is generally reserved for instances where the result of the thought process is that a previously irrational action becomes rational in retrospect. It is this backwards-looking perspective that makes it megative. It means that the actions only become rational to the actor following the action. It's a kind of lying, to yourself as well as the rest of us, because it makes it seem that your intent was rational to you at the time you took it, whereas the truth is that you were perhaps recklessly indifferent to the consequences and the detailed reasons. Mind you, it can vary from recreating your actual/likely train of thought and motivators, to figuring out an angle that would make it rational and then claiming htat was always your intent. The more benigh form of this seems to me to be the default setting for most people, most of the time (i.e. they are not particularly conscious of their motivators unless there's a known or suspected risk involved).

I suspect the confusion lies in the Stoic tendency to undertake the same mental process before taking the action. We try and understand our motivators (our 'nature' if you will) and relinquish those that arise from irrationality in favour of the rational. Having dome this we look to see the action that is dictated by the rationalisation that we find satisfying. This is a big part of the basis of Stoic ethics. For the Sage (a Stoic 'master') all actions are the result of consciously assenting to the rational expression of their nature, with the rationalising done and bought into prior to the action bit.

Not sure if that helps at all, but I hope so, because I think we are undersatnding each other largely, but getting lost in the unintended fringe meanings of the words.
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"If Michelangelo had been straight, the Sistine Chapel would have been wallpapered" Robin Tyler

It's the saddest thing in the world when you can only feel big by making others feel small. - UPG

Stupidity cannot be cured. Stupidity is the only universal capital crime. The sentence is death. There is no appeal and sentence is carried out automatically and without pity. Lazarus Long.

BGMarc at the Pub
BGMarc
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« Reply #25: February 06, 2009, 08:46:20 pm »

I see "thinking rationally" as quite different from "rationalization" - trying to figure out what the best path is, or what's going on, is just plain thinking. Smiley

For common, garden variety discussion, I tend to use these terms as you do. For me, this is a bit of a special case, where common meaning is getting caught up in 'technical' meaning. I would say that a thought process can be rational without being a rationalisation. A rationalisation makes some situation intelligable as the result of a sequence of rationally determined actions (including choices), whether before or after the event. Given this distinction (which I think useful for the current discussion), one may think rationally without rationalising (as you stated). In the current context, it was my intention to communicate the Stoic inclination to rationalisation (the process) prior to action.
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"If Michelangelo had been straight, the Sistine Chapel would have been wallpapered" Robin Tyler

It's the saddest thing in the world when you can only feel big by making others feel small. - UPG

Stupidity cannot be cured. Stupidity is the only universal capital crime. The sentence is death. There is no appeal and sentence is carried out automatically and without pity. Lazarus Long.

BGMarc at the Pub

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