Monday, August 30, 2010

Levels of Interpersonal Common Ground

Very unpleasant dealings that resulted from my trying to be of service to someone in a personal contradiction resulted in experiencing yet again how disturbing it is when someone doesn't interact with basic courtesy, and doesn't follow basic ethics or morals. Every time it happens I say I'll stop trying to be of service where I am not specifically asked for help. But, after enough time has passed, I try again.

So, here are some results of my ruminations, levels of common ground, such as objective systems one can appeal to arbitrate in a dispute:

4. Where there is mutual compassion, one need not appeal to an objective system, but appeals directly to the other.

3. Where there is acknowledgment of mutual social standing, one can appeal to common courtesy.

2. Where there is recognition of mutual reasonableness, one can appeal to ethics (or specific rules, such as the rules for argumentation).

1. Where there is recognition of mutual humanity, one can appeal to morality.

0. Where there is no recognition of mutuality, there is only the law to be appealed to.

We cannot change the other person, or force them to accept arbitration by any objective system other than the legal system we share in common. This is most likely why we have become such a litigious society. If you find yourself in this situation, don't feel bad if you actually need to invoke the law. That is were the other person is at, but it doesn't need to be where you are at. You can pursue necessary legal action compassionately, courteously, ethically, and morally.

Ideally, we should at least try to listen and interact with compassion in regards to others. Unfortunately, you never know when something will set someone you don't know off the deep end when you are trying to help. But, try to always have a compassionate ear open, and try to do no harm if possible.

In any case, we should not see even user's code names and silly avatars as anything other than representing people. You will not want to interact with them all, and some will take delight in going after you and yours, but there are people behind each avatar. Some may act like internet interactions are not subject to morals, ethics, or courtesy, let alone compassion. And, they may hide in places where they can isolate themselves from responses to, or consequences of, their actions. But we are all people, and compassion is the ideal.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

To question all things

To question all things;– never to turn away from any difficulty; to accept no doctrine either from ourselves or from other people without a rigid scrutiny by negative criticism; letting no fallacy, or incoherence, or confusion of thought step by unperceived; above all to insist upon having the meaning of a word clearly understood before using it, and the meaning of a proposition before assenting to it;– these are the lessons we learn from the ancient dialecticians.

- John Stuart Mill, Inaugural Address as Rector, University of St, Andrews, 1867.
(Quoted by Margaret Barker.)