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    #1

    chastening frailty

    Dear teachers:

    Only two questions, but a longer text for the context you may need:

    Question1: Passing perspectives--- passing in terms of changing? Could you elaborate a little?

    Question2: Chastening frailty--Does this have some connection with religious discourse? Frailty that makes us more disciplined or more moderate? What's the best paraphrase for chastening? Thanks.

    Ian2
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    History is the best antidote to delusions of omnipotence and omniscience. Self-knowledge is the indispensable prelude to self-control, for the nation as well as for the individual, and history should forever remind us of the limits of our passing perspectives . Perspectives that change with time but on a historical time line, not an individual life. We need to be reminded of the limits on our certainty and omnipotence. It should strengthen us to resist the pressure to convert momentary impulses into moral absolutes. It should lead us to acknowledge our profound and chastening frailty as human beings — we are very frail, both in intellect and in body and change our minds. This frailty should “chasten” by reminding us we do not know or control everything. It should serve to keep our egos and ambitions in check. to a recognition of the fact, so often and so sadly displayed, that the future outwits all our certitudes and that the possibilities of the future are more various than the human intellect is designed to conceive.
    Last edited by ian2; 13-Jan-2008 at 06:58.

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: chastening frailty

    Quote Originally Posted by ian2 View Post
    Dear teachers:

    Only two questions, but a longer text for the context you may need:

    Question1: Passing perspectives--- passing in terms of changing? Could you elaborate a little?

    Question2: Chastening frailty--Does this have some connection with religious discourse? I don't think so, but to feel 'chastened' you must have a sense of right and wrong.Frailty that makes us more disciplined or more moderate? What's the best paraphrase for chastening? Thanks.

    Ian2
    _______________________________________

    History is the best antidote to delusions of omnipotence and omniscience. Self-knowledge is the indispensable prelude to self-control, for the nation as well as for the individual, and history should forever remind us of the limits of our passing perspectives . Perspectives that change with time but on a historical time line, not an individual life. We need to be reminded of the limits on our certainty and omnipotence. It should strengthen us to resist the pressure to convert momentary impulses into moral absolutes. It should lead us to acknowledge our profound and chastening frailty as human beings — we are very frail, both in intellect and in body and change our minds. This frailty should “chasten” by reminding us we do not know or control everything. It should serve to keep our egos and ambitions in check. to a recognition of the fact, so often and so sadly displayed, that the future outwits all our certitudes and that the possibilities of the future are more various than the human intellect is designed to conceive.
    The definitions are there in the text - which seems to me rather unnecessarily wordy. I think the writer chose the word 'passing' because of the alliteration; also, 'passing' suggests temporality (being bounded by time) and temporariness - our views of what is valuable in the world change from day to day.

    I think you may have got a hint of religion because of the closeness of the words chastening, chastizement and chastity, but 'chastening' just means 'being made to feel small/weak/embarrassed/guilty' - in this context, being made to feel frail and morally inadequate. That sort of guilt tends to go with religion (trust me, I'm an expert ), but it needn't.

    b

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    #3

    Re: chastening frailty

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    The definitions are there in the text - which seems to me rather unnecessarily wordy. I think the writer chose the word 'passing' because of the alliteration; also, 'passing' suggests temporality (being bounded by time) and temporariness - our views of what is valuable in the world change from day to day.

    I think you may have got a hint of religion because of the closeness of the words chastening, chastizement and chastity, but 'chastening' just means 'being made to feel small/weak/embarrassed/guilty' - in this context, being made to feel frail and morally inadequate. That sort of guilt tends to go with religion (trust me, I'm an expert ), but it needn't.

    b
    I unexpectedly came across the following:

    As a father never turneth
    Wholly from a wayward child,
    For the prodigal still yearneth,
    Longing to be reconciled,
    So my many sins and errors
    Find a tender, pardoning God,
    Chastening frailty with His rod,
    Not, in vengeance, with His terrors.

    Does the word "chastening" here means punishing? Is this the same type of context as the one we were talking about, which seems to mean humbling?

    Also, do you have an example of "converting temporary impulses into moral absolutes"? See the original red text.
    Thanks.
    Last edited by ian2; 13-Jan-2008 at 07:01.

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: chastening frailty

    New readers: I didn't just resurrect this thread for fun - ian2 sent me a PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by ian2 View Post
    I unexpectedly came across the following:

    As a father never turneth
    Wholly from a wayward child,
    For the prodigal still yearneth,
    Longing to be reconciled,
    So my many sins and errors
    Find a tender, pardoning God,
    Chastening frailty with His rod,
    Not, in vengeance, with His terrors.

    Does the word "chastening" here mean[s] punishing? Yes; in your first quote - "profound and chastening frailty" - 'chastening' was an adjective - many commentators would call it a participle; it refines the meaning of "frailty". But in this context - the moralizing rhyme - it is a gerund; "chastizing" is what God does. "Punishing" is perhaps too strong a word, although you have the right idea. "Chastizing" is what a caring teacher does. The "rod" has two resonances, one positive and one negative. +ve: the line from one of the psalms - "You are there with your rod and your staff, with these you give me comfort". -ve: the (Victorian?) proverb "Spare the rod and spoil the child" (widely believed even when I was at school in the '50s and '60s - meaning 'It is impossible to educate young people without beating them from time to time.')
    Is this the same type of context as the one we were talking about, which seems to mean humbling?

    Also, do you have an example of "converting temporary impulses into moral absolutes"? See the original red text.
    Thanks.
    The last is rather sloppily written. A 'moral absolute' is something that is morally true in all circumstances (e.g. 'Helping poor people is good.' That sentence does not really mean turning temporary impulses into moral absolutes, but arriving at an awareness of moral absolutes by extrapolating from temporary impulses. For example: I see a blind person and feel I should help him cross the road. From this I arrive at a (mistaken) moral absolute: 'It is always good to help blind people to cross roads [whether they want to or not].'

    b

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    #5

    Re: chastening frailty

    Clarification:

    Rereading what I wrote yesterday, I've become aware of what some readers may interpret as a breach of the forum guidelines. When I wrote '"chastizing" is what God does' I was referring to a particular sentence and not to a religious belief. I'm sorry if anyone felt I was Bible-bashing [=vociferously, vehemently and/or insensitively presenting a Christian point of view].

    b

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