We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Friday, May 8. 2009
The only reward of virtue is virtue.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (h/t, Vanderleun)
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"The only reward of virtue is virtue." ?
No it isn't. Virtue will get you lots of things. You could get to be the Pope. You could get a good citizenship award at Sunday school or at Girl Scouts. You might not get asked out for a second date. You could get elected to The Do-Gooders Club and spread goodness around. You would never doubt that you're better than everyone else if you knew your virtue was true.
Why do people limit themselves by generalizing? I don't understand it.
Because when I try to tell my 14 year old boy to do his homework and he hasn't yet worked a hard job, he doesn't understand always what the "reward" is. I tell him: The satisfaction of a job well done is the best reward.
The only limit to generalizing is the mind of the beholder. Usually it opens vast vistas in my mind, since I can fill in the details with my own imaginings.
"The satisfaction of a job well done is the best reward."
That makes sense. It's a truism.
The only limit to generalizing is in the mind of the person who makes the generalization: He has failed to note the exceptions.
I like the idea of virtue being its own reward, but I note that many who want me to accept virtue as its own reward will not let me accept vice or guilt as their own punishment...chintzy as they are with rewarding virtue, they are ever so generous in responding to vice.
I've increased in virtue as I've aged, by virtue of the fact my vices are slowly leaving me, of their own accord, the old body not being able to take it any more. When vices leave, virtue finds room to play.
Better yet, to be truly more virtuous than the virtuous who seek a reward for being virtuous is to be virtuous without sensing, seeking, or needing a reward even as ethereal as virtue itself. To never even let it cross your mind. Which makes this statement rather pointless, doesn't it? Who is it addressing? Does it seek to stimulate virtuousness in others? What would be the point of that if it would provide the author and, in the end, the accepting audience with some heightened sense of self-esteem based on their "acquired" virtue? Unless, of course, Mr. Emerson was sacrificing his own true virtue on the altar of virtutuity. Turtles again. I think I'm out of Scotch.
You've again, narrowed to the nut of it.
It is turtles, all the damn way down.
Leavened only by by some, hopefully digestible, semblance of Scotch. Though others may prefer different mind altering catalyst's.
Virtue an induced virtue? Likely not human nature driven... just an artificial construct based on... what? Disguising us from the animals that we are?
It's just another aspect of human nature molded by evolution...it's an impulse as the "God shaped vacuum" is an impulse. Deviancy is expected and like lemmings we have our social breaking points where a stronger urge compels us to act as one against the norm I suppose. But just don't confuse me with the rabble shouting for the head of the almighty on a platter when I share these thoughts with you; I think evolution is God's bitch.
Hate to be a dunce, but what is "the God shaped vacuum"?
Curiosity has the best of me in my limited understanding of your words here, but could you explain "I think evolution is God's bitch."?
Extremely interesting words: I just wish I understood them.
“There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus” -- Blaise Pascal
Re: God's bitch - Bitch: Modern-day servant; A person who performs tasks for another, usually degrading in status.
I've personified evolution as God's servant described in modern slang as a "bitch".
I liked "God shaped vacuum" better when I thought I understood it a little different. I took it to mean we all have a hook/space/placeholder/whatever where nature/evolution/divine being/Divine Being/Godhead/whatever has programmed us to store one of these. If we choose to not believe in one/One, something else (materialism, commie-ism, fame) fills that space due to nature's vacuum abhorrence. Didn't get the evolution thing. Makes more sense to me to just say "servant" in the first place. JMHO.
“There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man..." made known only through Jesus.
Jephnol, Not every man knows Jesus. Does this mean only Christians get to fill that void? Jews, for instance, don't get to fill it? How about the humanist who knows Jesus as a man?
I don't have that vacuum. Is there something wrong with me?
If evolution is God's bitch, is nature God's jackboot?
Not crazy about the "Jesus" part myself, but I do believe that vacuum (effectively) exists. Part of that "If God did not exist it would be necessary to invent him would" meme of Voltaire's.
To your point about the Jews...That is probably what irritates me most about the "Conservative Christian" mentality, the literal interpretation of exclusivity based on the writing of someone relating a conversation 30 or more years after the fact. Faith I can understand. But if having 100% confidence that you know all of what you think you know, to the detriment of some other group's standing in relation to a Divine Being is more than a tad pretentious.
The quote cited above is not my favorite Emerson quote. This one is: "the louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted the spoons." Now that's true wisdom.
Ha ha...I love this crowd. Maggie's draws the best.
Blame Pascal for the whole quote, I have assimilated the "God shaped vacuum" part because I think it's cool. I think I'm inline w/ KRW there or what he said.
I like "bitch" because it emphasizes (in urban slang) the degraded status of the servant, and yes nature is God's jackboot. Why not.
Re: "Not every man knows Jesus. Does this mean only Christians get to fill that void?" I think many Christians might say so. I think KRW is spot on that the vacuum exists but we try to fill it with many things.
Glad I'm not smart enough to have the answers...I just love to wonder. Whatever. This is just good fun before I die.
MM, don't go counting the spoons on my account.
God I love this place....
I think that vacuum comes about when you don't get as good as you give. Then I think your psyche compels you to fill that need with just about anything that eases the ache. If you are so inclined, you might even become one of God's bitches.
The God shaped vacuum is the reason for the universality of religion-I believe it's an evolutionary adaptation, (which does not necessarily negate belief in God). And by my definition of God, we are all his bitches.
Hi gang, don't know if anyone is still on this thread.
One of my own problems with many religions is the idea that we are God's servants, by whatever terms. Many religions ask us not to see each other as servants, then tell us that God sees us exactly as we are not to see each other. I prefer the idea that we are God's agents, His knowing and thoughtful representatives to each other.
I have a problem with the shepherd image, too. Shepherds herd sheep; they don't guide them. And in the end they use their sheep -- for milk, for fleece, for meat. Kind of ugly images when applied to the all-loving God I want to believe in.