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David Madeley

Joined: Jul. 24, 2014

Bio:

I’m interested in personalism for a variety of reasons. I am about to train as a teacher and have previously worked in mental health, where issues of authority and liberty came up periodically - I have been known to argue passionately in the defence of one or the other at different times, with the result that I have been caricatured as a hippy by some and an authoritarian by others. 


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Re: Not whether I meant to offend, but whether I did offend: that is the question

Aug. 16 at 6:12pm | see this comment in context

Thanks again. I don't see causing pain as sinful in itself. But, I think we should hold our hands up and own how keen we are to interfere in other people's lives. When the time comes to make a medicinal intervention in someone else's life, it's possible there may be some motivations which are good and some which are not. My thought is we should consider apologising not only for the pain but also for any subliminal power-play we are engaging in and how that might be impacting on the person (not that all of that needs to be made explicit).

Whatever we think of Maritain - I'm not a huge fan myself - I still feel there is a distinction to be made between the person per se and the person-at-a-moment-in-time, and this distinction is how I make space for fraternal correction in a world which says "mind your own business".

 

Re: Not whether I meant to offend, but whether I did offend: that is the question

Aug. 14 at 4:54pm | see this comment in context

Regarding your two examples, I would say that we should consider apologising even where there is a clear need for an intervention. However genuine we’re being, there is often a human element – and I don’t think that’s as inevitable as TCP hurting a wound. It is possible to give constructive criticism and for it not to hurt. If it does hurt we should try to take responsibility for it hurting, even if the sin we are correcting is objectively much worse than our sin in correcting it.

In the other case, I agree, if there has clearly been a violation of sovereignity then we should apologise, with the proviso that it is sometimes appropriate for people to look out for each other’s true desires, and we shouldn’t let one case of going too far interfere with that responsibility. 

Re: Not whether I meant to offend, but whether I did offend: that is the question

Aug. 14 at 4:51pm | see this comment in context

Thanks for the reply. The individual/person distinction is one I got from Maritain (in the Person and the Common Good). He wants to make the person the subject of rights but not the individual. This baffled me for a while and I'm not sure if I've understood him correctly, but my interpretation is that the individual is a particular instance, in time, of the person, which encompasses a whole set of individuals. Whilst there is obviously a very intimate relationship between the person and the individual - the one being the child of the other, so to speak - there are times when the individual overreaches itself and runs amok. What I would say is that this is where one person can legitimately act on another's behalf - they can make a judgement about what the person truly wants, and act accordingly, even if they encounter resistance. This includes making judgements about what people ‘want to hear’ - i.e David needs to know how rude he is, I don't care if it upsets him, he needs to hear it now. If he knew how rude he was being, he would choose not to behave like this. That’s the crucial move.

Re: Not whether I meant to offend, but whether I did offend: that is the question

Aug. 14 at 4:36am | see this comment in context

And yet. We're very poor and weak. Whilst an apology isn't strictly necessary, I still think it's a good idea. However advanced in perfection we are, there are almost definitely some human elements in the way we correct. Those are what we are apologising for. It can be tough. There are people out there who really need correcting! And yet it’s the things we most need to hear which are sometimes most difficult to hear, and the devil is highly skilled at exploiting poorly chosen words by well-meaning Jeremiahs.

Re: Not whether I meant to offend, but whether I did offend: that is the question

Aug. 14 at 4:35am | see this comment in context

I would say that any act of fraternal correction involves a degree of invasiveness and intrusiveness. Strictly speaking, we don't need to apologise for that intrusiveness. If I see that my neighbour's house is on fire, and he is on holiday, the fire gives me permission to break into his house and put out the fire. I haven't violated his property rights - on the contrary, I have upheld his property rights by defending his property against the fire. It would be absurd to apologise here. Similarly, personal space/rights/liberty etc. does in my view permit vicarious actions in the name of the person, even where these actions hurt the individual (the individual and the person not being identical). I see fraternal correction as my neighbour putting out a fire in my house. If I'm rude, it hurts to hear it, but it is in my interest to hear it.

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