Twisty Thursday: Philosophical Musings, Vol. 1

“Tis the season of giving,” or so “they” say.

As I was chatting with an old friend on the telephone today it occurred to me that, as we age, we tend to become one of two people:  The person who wants to please everyone else and meet the expectations of the outside world, or the person who centers their interactions with others around meeting their own personal expectations.

Arguments could be made regarding the level at which each of these types exists, but it still seems that the world is populated with “givers” and “takers.”  I would agree with such an argument that these types would be placed upon a continuum; a scale from with either extreme at opposite ends.  One could not necessarily say that all people are only an extreme giver or and extreme taker, the majority would be simply somewhere in between.

This train of thought led me off on the philosophical trail upon which I often find myself, and I suddenly found myself posed with several interesting questions:  What do we call those people who find themselves on the extreme ends?  Are the givers Kantians and the takers Utilitarians?  What do we think of the people who reside at the extremes?  Are not those who always give allowing themselves to be victims?  What of Gandhi?  And are those who are always taking immoral in some way?

At this point in my life, I find myself on the “taking” end of the continuum.  I am allowing

Cats are Definitely Takers

several people and one very large organization to assist me in continuing my education so that I will one day be a physician.  However, I also know that once I have completed my education, I will also be giving to a great many people.  With this in mind, it seems that our place on the continuum of givers and takers is not static.  It is as fluid as we are on our path through life.

Perhaps, as long as we utilize our place on the continuum in a moral and kind way, we need not worry if we must find ourselves getting more than we give.

What say you, dear friends, lurkers, and philosophers?

About DrPretzel

Student of philosophy and medicine, mother of 2 Creatures of Mass Destruction (a.k.a. "boys"), Soldier, sister, daughter, friend, cat person, social inept, INTJ, blah, blah, blah...are you even reading this?
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6 Responses to Twisty Thursday: Philosophical Musings, Vol. 1

  1. charlie pride says:

    i find the far more important question to be why do we continue to limit ourselves by attempting to circumscribe our being and essence with continua and scales? combine the uncertainty principle with our continual need to define and classify the un- and we’ve reached another point of stasis. we have all moved through the entire spectrum of the continuum and will again and again. most best is to recognize we live in the midst of all decisions and at will may be where we choose.

    • drpretzel says:

      I am certainly not saying that there are any limits, nor am I saying that these scales are set into stone.

      I simply think that we do not always consider our actions in the sense of giving or taking, but more in the sense of want or need. We often tend to become so wrapped up in expectations that we no longer view our choices from the third person. The extremes of either end of the continuum are the most overt and disgusting sort of selfishness.

      I think that living outside the spectrum requires one to know that those sorts of behaviors exists, and refusing to exhibit the extremes. It’s more of a tool, really. If you are aware of someone who lives the extreme, you might find it easier to deal with them.

      Of course, as with any philosophical rambling, I am left with more questions than answers. And of course none of the answers I’ve posed are THE answer, they are simply an idea. That’s the wonderful thing about philosophy; we can each have and examine our own and still be philosophers.

      • charlie pride says:

        expectations are different than considerations. they are disappointments as yet unrealized.

        as to exhibiting or exhorting the extremes, why would one limit themselves from experiencing all possibilities?

        one person’s selfishness is another’s survival.

        i’m a mirror……i know i am and so are you!

        the old indian saying; if a man asks you for money, he must need it. who are you to decide what for?

  2. Charisse says:

    I’d say the ideal is actually found within virtue ethics. (Of course I’d say that!) Okay, okay, but here me out…
    I feel what your friend was saying, I have seen a few people in my life sliding around on that scale lately, and I -being the perpetual-people-pleaser that I am- often find myself being pulled and shoved around on it, too. So the conclusion I’ve come to in my life, is no one solution fits anything. The hard part in this world is learning how to do what is best in each unique situation. Sometimes the most giving thing you can do, is to take when it’s needed.

  3. Brian Gillum says:

    Very thought provoking. Especially as I am currently reading Mills Utilitarianism.

    A utilitarianist needn’t always be a “taker,” I think. If giving will provide the greater happiness then a utilitarian can and would be bound to give.

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