Results 1 to 3 of 3
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • Taiwan
      • Current Location:
      • Taiwan

    • Join Date: Dec 2003
    • Posts: 514
    #1

    characterize as a duty

    Dear Teachers,

    I read these from True Pleasures by Lucinda Holdforth.

    1.
    "Politeness is the bond established by society between men who are strangers to one another. Virtues attach us to family, friends and people less fortunate than ourselves; but in every relationship which we do not characterise as a duty, civilised manners prepare the way for affections..."

    What does it mean by "relationship which we do not characterise as a duty"?

    2.
    "Social conventions are the image of moral life, presupposing it in any circumstances which do not give a chance of proving it."

    I am totally lost about the latter part of this sentence...

    3.
    "I wanted to banish the burden of innocence; I didn't like my perilous virgin vulnerability."

    What is perilous virgin vulnerability?


    • Join Date: May 2008
    • Posts: 810
    #2

    Re: characterize as a duty

    Quote Originally Posted by Eway View Post
    Dear Teachers,

    I read these from True Pleasures by Lucinda Holdforth.

    1.
    "Politeness is the bond established by society between men who are strangers to one another. Virtues attach us to family, friends and people less fortunate than ourselves; but in every relationship which we do not characterise as a duty, civilised manners prepare the way for affections..."

    What does it mean by "relationship which we do not characterise as a duty"?

    An example of a relationship characterised by duty can be love towards family members. You may not always agree or get along very well, but you are bound by duty to love them based on their status as a family member (in theory!). An example of a relationship not characterised by duty is one with a boy/girlfriend; you choose to engage in such a relationship and don't feel bound by duty.

    2.
    "Social conventions are the image of moral life, presupposing it in any circumstances which do not give a chance of proving it."

    I am totally lost about the latter part of this sentence...

    I'm not sure myself. My best interpretation is:


    "Social conventions represent the moral life and such conventions supposedly take morality for granted, however this is only evident in circumstances where the idea is not given a chance to be proven otherwise." (edited after reading David.L's post)



    3.
    "I wanted to banish the burden of innocence; I didn't like my perilous virgin vulnerability."

    What is perilous virgin vulnerability?

    I assume the person sees the innocence of "virgin vunerability" as a liability, something which is disadvantagous for one reason or another.
    I'm not a teacher.
    Last edited by colloquium; 27-Jun-2008 at 10:34.


    • Join Date: Nov 2007
    • Posts: 5,409
    #3

    Re: characterize as a duty

    "Politeness is the bond established by society between men who are strangers to one another. Virtues attach us to family, friends and people less fortunate than ourselves; but in every relationship which we do not characterise as a duty, civilised manners prepare the way for affections..."

    What does it mean by "relationship which we do not characterise as a duty"?


    You have a relative who lives alone. She is your aunt. She doesn't have many friends. You know she is lonely. You're not surprised she's lonely - all she does when you talk with her is complain about everything, criticize everybody (and you) etc. She is the kind of person you normally would have nothing to do with. BUT - she is your mother's sister, and say, your mother is dead. If you disown this woman, it feels like it would hurt your mother's feelings. So you visit, not because you want to, but because you feel it is your duty as a good son to his mother...and she is your aunt. It is a relationship with a person you have 'out of duty'....certainly not out of choice!
    Compare, the friends you see regularly for sheer pleasure...not because it is a duty. We see these people because we really want to.

    "Social conventions are the image of moral life, presupposing it in any circumstances which do not give a chance of proving it."


    A 'social convention' means ' a way in which something is usually done when in company with other people'. Now, it would be nice if we could always be polite and pleasant to people....................but sometimes!.....they make your blood boil and you get angry and let rip (=do something without restraint, any holding back). It is one thing to have the convention "always be polite to others', but in practice, this can be hard.
    So - 'social conventions' are like the rules, that say how we OUGHT TO behave. They give one picture of how people are all getting on so nicely together. And so, when we next walk into a room and meet a group of people, I can expect -'suppose' - that everybody there will be nice and polite. Yes. As long as the situation, the circumstances, don't provoke anyone. If everyone talks about bland topics, the weather etc, then everyone will be nice and polite. But let's do an experiment. Let's change the situation a little - let's start talking about religion or politics...and say I say something very derogatory about Buddha, or Jesus Christ. Will everyone still be polite and say something like, " Yes, that is an interest observation about our Lord and Saviour." Or be outraged and say so.
    As long as we don't ruffle feathers, as long as we don't test out these rules, these social conventions, to see whether they do hold no matter what the circumstance...
    Yes, social conventions give an idealistic picture of our lives and what to expect -"presupposing it in any circumstances' - because most 'circumstances' are bland, do not really put it to the test. Say something outrageous in company and see if these conventions, this happy-wappy picture of how we see ourselves, and our moral lives, lives up to these conventions, rules, way things "ought to be'. !! The author is saying they don't. These social conventions are giving some idealized picture of ourselves; and this picture will seem real...until an unusual situation arises - then see if everybody stays polite, cool, calm and collected. See if we all live up to this image we have of 'civilized society'. As an example: we have the picture of ourselves as caring about others, being helpful. You are in a plane crash, and the survivors are trying to get out of the aircraft. Someone has hurt their leg and can't walk. Do you, of course, let them put their arm round your shoulder as you help them off the plane? Or do you get the hell out of there in case the plane's fuel tanks explode? One's a nice image of ourselves as a person. Put us in a particular situation, like when your own life is threatened, and we may not live up to that 'image' at all.
    (The actual quote has a ring of Oscar Wilde to it !)

    I wanted to banish the burden of innocence; I didn't like my perilous virgin vulnerability."

    What is perilous virgin vulnerability?


    I was able to locate the page of this book and determine the context of these words.

    A woman, from her Catholic teachings, values the ideal of virginity till marriage above life itself. Hence, when Maria is faced with a potential rapist, she tells him to stab her to death rather than compel her to the sin of unmarried sexual intercourse. For this, the Catholic Church made her a saint, and a martyr.

    This stance is anathema to the author. Yes – we have ideals, hopes and dreams. And the realities of life may trample and crush them. But we need to have the courage to continue in the face of this. One’s very own life, existence, our being, is more important than ideals we cherish.

    The ultimate threat we face is of death, and our ultimate vulnerability is the loss of our own life. Yet how much more vulnerable we render ourselves if we hold our hopes and dreams above life itself. Around every corner, the realities of the world challenge, threaten, and may crush our ideals and dreams, leaving us in a state of constant vulnerability if the threat to a dream is a threat to one’s own existence. That is the burden of innocence: the oppressive, unremitting sense of vulnerability that acts as an impediment. If we have the courage to choose Life, and face these realities, surviving even though our dreams may be dead, then our sense of vulnerability in the world is far less.

    The author would not be such a victim, such a martyr. If fact, she would have the willingness, the courage, to banish such na´ve, innocent sentiments that maintain one’s sense of vulnerability. Maria held on to her virginity, her innocence, and so was perilously vulnerable and died as a result. Not for the author. She “did not like this state of innocent (virgin) vulnerability", and set out with the willingness and courage to shed it.
    Last edited by David L.; 27-Jun-2008 at 13:45.

Similar Threads

  1. fulfill the duty
    By jctgf in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 13-Apr-2008, 03:40
  2. We consider that is our duty to obey the laws.
    By angliholic in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 15-Jan-2008, 07:59
  3. shift or duty schedule
    By angliholic in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 10-Mar-2007, 13:56
  4. duty management
    By Hanka in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 07-Mar-2007, 23:12
  5. "a" duty?
    By Eway in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 22-Oct-2004, 11:30

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •