I say

With Dresser,

I do not know what truth is, what beauty is, what love is, what hope is. I do not believe any one absolutely and I do not doubt any one absolutely. I think people are both evil and well-intentioned.

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

18 thoughts on “I say

  1. Hariod Brawn says:

    To doubt the mind is wisdom.


  2. shelldigger says:

    That is an interesting thought. Perspective is everything I suppose. Selfishness, desire, greed, all play a small role in our perspectives. Generosity, empathy, and a desire to help others, I suppose would be the flip side of the coin. Our decisions, our actions are all influenced by these traits. There is no one point on the sliding bar of human emotion that any of us can be nailed down to. But after a while, of knowing someone, you can get a pretty good idea of the range on that sliding bar, a particular person likes to live. That however is not to be set in stone.


  3. john zande says:

    That’s about it


  4. Interesting thought. I like the last bit about people being (probably on average) well intentioned but capable of doing evil.


  5. fojap says:

    I’m inclined to agree with the last part, although I’m not sure that there is really such a thing as evil. I see people as weak and having conflicting desires and needs. I suppose by opinion is very close to that of shelldigger.

    However, as far as the ability to judge beauty goes, I’m more inclined to the opinion of Emily Dickinson, “If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only way I know it. Is there any other way?” I particularly like the “top of my head” comment because I know exactly how that feels.


    • makagutu says:

      Seeing people as weak, I think denotes that there is an ideal somewhere of the strong person. I prefer to see people just being human doing things human.


      • fojap says:

        I meant as opposed to evil. If you allow that people are evil isn’t there an ideal that is good?


        • makagutu says:

          If one allows for evil, then there is an ideal that is good. But if you say people just are with capacity for both great deeds and not so great, then I don’t think there is an ideal


          • fojap says:

            I don’t really think there’s an ideal at all. There’s just more functional and less functional. When a worker bee kicks a drone out of the hive in the fall, is she being good or bad. She is being neither; she’s just being a bee. Human societies are more complex and we get more choices. When we make the choice that allows for the greatest overall flourishing for everyone around us, people call it good. When our choices don’t work out well, then they are evil.

            Now that I’ve said that, I’m not entirely comfortable with the statement, because that makes me sound like a utilitarian, which I’m not in any strict sense.

            Also, in real life, it’s not always clear what the best choice of action is. Some level of self-interest is necessary. You can’t help other people if you are in need of help yourself. (Took me until about the age of thirty to figure that out.) Still, at some point, you do have to curb your self interest a bit. I’m not sure what Dresser (Is this Dreiser? What are you reading? Mencken? Something else?) has in mind when he says evil. He seems to contrast it with “well-intentioned.”

            Not sure – I think I need a second cup of coffee for this. 🙂


            • makagutu says:

              Was reading Mencken. He does some analysis of Dreiser’s work.
              Dreiser says in the parts quoted by Mencken that he doesn’t know. Mencken being a Nitzchean would, I think, see good as bad from a master- slave morality.
              I agree with you point on overall good entirely, and like you, it isn’t easy to determine where the line is. I think custom to a great extent is the barometer through which actions are judged.


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