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Saturday, December 15 - 6:03pmSanction this postReply
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Excellent post on forgiveness, Teresa!

Many Christians tend to disconnect virtue from one's own life; this is part of Kant's legacy. The categorical imperative has served to make morality into a burden that is to be carried rather than a tool for living.

This formed the basis of the moral/practical false dichotomy. Kant made his "duties" moral in themselves, not in relation to any performer of said "duties".

In this case, the "duty" is forgiveness.

I once treated honesty has a virtue in itself, to be practiced regardless of the situation. I also came against a wall when I envisioned a scenario in which Nazi's came to my door. I couldn't imagine giving away the location of family members, but isn't lying immoral?

I learned to never separate a virtue from the value it is intended to gain, thus solving the Nazi scenario.

Making morality into a burden also has other consequences. I once read a banner on the back of a someone's truck; the banner read: No Morals. I thought to myself: "There's someone who views morality as a set of rules which only serve to weigh one down." These people tend to go for the "immoral" rather than the morality of chains. They may find the "third way", or they may pursue a life of crime if left unguided.



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Saturday, December 15 - 6:39pmSanction this postReply
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Kyle,
but isn't lying immoral?
Rand says that virtue is the action by which you seek to gain or keep important values. But the context of virtue only comes up where volition is possible - where a person has a choice.

When someone puts a gun in picture, the context is no longer one which requires what we usually call honesty (real honesty is not lying to yourself about reality, or attempting gain a value from another by deceiving them).

When that gun comes out your only duty is protect yourself and what you value to the best of your ability. Virtue calls for you to lie as well as you can if that is the best way to protect your values. The key to the issue is choice. If you have a choice, you tell the truth. If you are under threat it is different.



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Saturday, December 15 - 6:56pmSanction this postReply
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Steve,

"...but, isn't lying immoral?" was the question I used to ask my self when I imagined what I would do if Nazi's came to my door.



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Saturday, December 15 - 7:15pmSanction this postReply
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Kyle,

Yes, I didn't mean to give the impression you were still asking that question. I thought you were totally on target when you said, I learned to never separate a virtue from the value it is intended to gain... That's well said.



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Saturday, December 15 - 7:17pmSanction this postReply
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Steve,

Oh, sorry about that.



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Saturday, December 15 - 8:33pmSanction this postReply
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Kyle, Nothing for you to sorry for. My phrasing was unfortunate.



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Monday, December 17 - 8:46amSanction this postReply
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Teresa,
I realize this may not be where you were going with your thought process, but it is relevant to note that often forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves.  It may not be virtuous of me, in an Objective sense, to forgive someone who has harmed me so that he may have relief, but it is definitely beneficial for me to forgive him so that I may have relief.  Sometimes that is the only way one can progress through the grieving process and finally reach acceptance, and therefore emotional healing.

I daresay some of the Sandy Hook families will have to consider this eventually, although I doubt any of them are far enough into the grieving process to consider it right now.




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Monday, December 17 - 1:12pmSanction this postReply
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Deanna,

You are absolutely correct about the difference between the gift to the perpetrator versus the gift to ourselves, but what we need is a different word. Forgiveness IS about the perpetrator, and what we need to do is to let go of the attachment to the that person and to the hurt and the past.

There should never be moral forgiveness for the perpetrator of a heinousness act, but the victims need to find the best way to let go of the past and it's pain. Anger is a way of blocking pain and sadness and grief, and attempting to act on that anger, and to focus from an angry point of view, is a way to hold that hurt farther away. It's natural, but it needs to fade and change so people can process the pain.

I don't have that much experience in this area, but when they get there, I'd suggest people try, "I no longer care about that monster. He is no longer important in my life. I'm teaching my mind to look at the future, and he isn't in it." As opposed to, "I forgive him for what he did."



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Thursday, December 20 - 5:41pmSanction this postReply
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Deanna, I'm sorry, but no no no no no(!):

"but it is definitely beneficial for me to forgive him so that I may have relief."

for·give

[fer-giv] Show IPA verb, for·gave, for·giv·en, for·giv·ing.
verb (used with object)
1.
to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve.
 
2.
to give up all claim on account of; remit (a debt, obligation, etc.).
 
3.
to grant pardon to (a person).
 
4.
to cease to feel resentment against: to forgive one's enemies.
 
5.
to cancel an indebtedness or liability of: to forgive the interest owed on a loan.
 
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


How does forgiving a nihilist give one relief? How does one benefit from releasing perpetrators from moral responsibility? 

To forgive horrendous moral debts like this, big, huge un-repayable debts, from people who never had any intention of ever respecting the value of your life in the first place is an altruistic sacrifice, and an evil in itself.  I don't admire people who cut themselves to spiritual shreads for the atonement of a distant, indifferent evil. It sick, and to claim a value for that kind of soul mutilation is, quite frankly, disgusting. 

Again, I apologise, but I can't think of a kind or fluffy way to express this. I understand that people are raised with the idea of forgiveness as a virtue, but it just isn't a virtue. Is ceasing to "feel resentment against" someone who willfully destroyed an irreplaceable value in your life honestly a virtue? If so, why?  Sounds like a mental illness leading to spiritual suicide to me.

There is dealing with, living with, overcoming, and hopefully rebuilding, but there should never ever be "forgiving" of willful evil.  

When a debt can never be repaid, forgiveness is not an option.   




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Thursday, December 20 - 6:40pmSanction this postReply
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A slightly different take?

A couple years ago, a person who physically assaulted someone very close to me then came to me -- as well as to several others -- asking for forgiveness.

I said forgiveness is not something that should be given away, forgiveness is only something that someone can earn (with subsequent behavior). I told him that, for now, I do not forgive him for what he has done, and that I will update him just as soon as that situation ever changes. Interestingly, everyone else that he went to immediately forgave him.

Ed




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Thursday, December 20 - 6:46pmSanction this postReply
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Wish I'd thought of that when a certain individual attempted to offer me a self serving apology, Ed.  I didn't give it, either.  So insincere, and so very very late.



Post 11

Thursday, December 20 - 7:13pmSanction this postReply
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Forgiveness, like judgement, is a powerful tool which can be used to preserve current values or foster new ones.

However, if forgiveness is given away freely, the offender will have no reservations about repeat offenses.

Kind of like someone who freely "lends" money to deadbeat friends. The friends never repay the loans (because there isn't any consequences if they don't), and the lender keeps giving them out regardless. In other words, the "lender" has given the deadbeats a blank check.


Ideally, when someone forgives someone else, the forgiver has made all the proper assessments of the apology, lost value AND future value that person will have to the forgiver.

Most people forgive just because the offender apologized. They don't take into account the lost value due to the offense, or any future value the offender may have to them.

They set themselves up for more betrayal.



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Post 12

Thursday, December 20 - 7:21pmSanction this postReply
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As to Deanna's comment, I have heard people claim that forgiveness will clear one's conscious and help one move on.

This is, however, often used as a Trojan horse. The Trojan horse being one's own happiness, but, inside the horse, is a blank check offered to the offender.

It can also be an either/or fallacy. You can either forgive someone for their offense or you can be miserable (because you didn't forgive them).

I don't like those options, may I have another?



Post 13

Thursday, December 20 - 7:46pmSanction this postReply
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You know, Steve (and then Kyle) made an interesting point. Is there a false dichotomy here?

It seems like you can only forgive or not forgive, but what about the "truism" Deanna mentions that "forgiveness" is ultimately an act of self love? I don't hold hate in my heart for the man I mentioned above, but I also don't expect value from interaction with him either. I don't invest in him. I may never invest in him as a person. But I do not actively antagonize him, nor do I even bad-mouth him, either to his face or behind his back. Besides the bare minimum of polite small-talk, I've been treating him like Roark treated Toohey:

"But I don't think of you."

By not going all negative about him, and merely overlooking him in the positive sense of examining and ranking all of my options for value in this world, I get the feeling that I am practicing a form of self love. I did tell him that his action involved a contradiction -- that he was treating another human like an animal, but still expected human values to be returned to him. You can't physically harm someone, and then expect them to expend effort listening to you, or sympathizing with your joys or trials in life -- yet he expected a human relationship, even after the physical harm.

I may not be treating this guy exactly as I should, but I'd like to think that I'm pretty close to treating him exactly as I should.

:-)

Ed

(Edited by Ed Thompson on 12/20, 7:59pm)




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Post 14

Friday, December 21 - 3:52pmSanction this postReply
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Forgiveness can only consistently come into being once justice (from the victim's perspective) has been restored. Otherwise "forgiveness" is a sacrifice of the victim's values.



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Saturday, December 22 - 8:13pmSanction this postReply
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It can also be an either/or fallacy. You can either forgive someone for their offense or you can be miserable (because you didn't forgive them).

That ignorant psycho-babble stuff chaps me, too.

Ed,

I thinking adhering to an accurate judgement is a better act of self-love.  Not marinating in it, but holding on to it. 

How could Rand judge someone she didn't even think of?  That never made sense to me.  

(Edited by Teresa Summerlee Isanhart on 12/22, 8:20pm)




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Post 16

Saturday, December 22 - 8:44pmSanction this postReply
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From AYN RAND ANSWERS, pg. 166:

(Question): "...you voiced a strongly pessimistic view of the future. How can you you say you're glad to be old, when one of the most important concepts of Objectivism is that irrationality must never be taken seriously?"

Rand: "What in hell gave you that impression? ...the only passage that I can imagine gave you this impression–and if so, makes me angrier, and hurt-is Dagny's line to Galt: 'We never had to take any of it seriously.' That's one of the most beautiful passages in my novel qua fiction. But it is light-years away from 'Irrationality is never to be taken seriously.'"

"I've written that one problem with Americans is that they don't believe in the reality of evil. You better take evil and irrationality seriously: not in the sense of regarding it as important-not in the sense of letting it determine the course of your life or your choice of career or other key values-but in the sense of not evading its existence. You should do everything in your power (though not at the price of self-sacrifice) to counteract evil and irrationality, which requires taking it seriously. But that is not the meaning of this line from ATLAS SHRUGGED."

I'd guess that would apply to "but I don't think of you" as well...


(Edited by Joe Maurone on 12/22, 8:54pm)




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Post 17

Saturday, December 22 - 9:43pmSanction this postReply
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Teresa,

I like that part about marination. I think it gets to the heart of things here. You can be seething or you can be calculative. I'll take the latter. As to how Rand could judge folks not thought of, I would like to think that she would answer -- in the case of Roark -- that Roark made a judgment about Toohey, and from then on chose not to think of him.

Ed




Post 18

Saturday, December 22 - 9:47pmSanction this postReply
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My question remains: does irrationality exist independent of an irrational mind? Rand seems to be saying yes, here, but it isn't very clear.  Saying one thought is light years away from another doesn't explain the distance.  



Post 19

Sunday, December 23 - 7:06amSanction this postReply
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Teresa,
My question remains: does irrationality exist independent of an irrational mind?
I don't think I understand the question. I know that a tree falling in the forest makes a sound, even if there is no one around to hear it -- but is that a good analogy to what you are asking? If so, then irrationality (the lack of rationality) exists everywhere and all of the time, it permeates the entire universe, but it only becomes important in a value-judgment when applied to a being capable of rationality in the first place (e.g., stones are irrational things, but no one cares about that).

We don't create irrationality, we transcend it. Though some hold-outs may work to willfully evade this aspect of humanity. You might call this the 'missing link' phenomenon, where man attempts to live like an animal -- or at least as something in-between man and animal. A lot of post-modern existentialists, incorrectly thinking it is their only 'option,' fall into this trap. And conniving politicians often bank-on there being a perpetual mob of people who remain caught-up in this trap.

Ed

(Edited by Ed Thompson on 12/23, 7:10am)




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