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Responsibility - a misused word

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I've heard the word "responsibility" thrown around soooooo much over my lifetime that by now I'm just about sick of hearing it!!!  First, let's take a look at some definitions of the word itself. And remember that words are just pointers to ideas, not absolute truths.

from google:
1. The state or fact of having a duty to deal with something.
2. The state or fact of being accountable or to blame for something.

from the free dictionary:
1. the state or position of being responsible
2. a person or thing for which one is responsible
3. the ability or authority to act or decide on one's own, without supervision

Usually you'll hear this word either applied to yourself "you need to take responsibility and...blah blah" or to someone else "they really need to take responsibility and ... ". The end part is always something that the speaker believes that the other person should do. In 99% of the times this word is used, it seems to be the meaning from google's version.

Let's attack the idea of "duty" first.
Here's some definitions:
1. A moral or legal obligation; a responsibility: "it's my duty to uphold the law".
2. (of a visit or other undertaking) Done from a sense of moral obligation rather than for pleasure: "a fifteen-minute duty visit".

Do these sound like they have anything to do with a person's own will or desires? Nope! Here's what Neitzche says:

 "What destroys a man more quickly," he asks, "than to work, think, and feel without inner necessity, without any deep personal desire, without pleasure—as a mere automaton of “duty”?" (The Antichrist, § 11)

Nietzsche claims that the task of all higher education is "to turn men into machines." The way to turn men into machines is to teach them to tolerate boredom. This is accomplished, Nietzsche says, by means of the concept of duty. (Twilight of the Idols, “Skirmishes of an untimely man” § 9.29)

Okay, now that we have duty out of the way, responsibility turns into the watered down simple idea of being able to blame somebody for something.  There's still one positive definition that has more to do with free will and choice though and that is #3 from the free dictionary: "the ability or authority to act or decide on one's own, without supervision". It even sounds right breaking the word apart "response - ability" = "the ability to respond". It's kind of funny though that most of the times that the word is used, it has nothing to do with "the ability to decide on one's own", without supervision". Usually it's "being able to be blamed for something" or "having a duty to deal with something". Those have everything to do with what other people want of you, not being able to decide for yourself but rather being pushed into doing something by guilt and social pressure.

Life would probably be a bit simpler if people would just come out and say "duty" when they're trying to get you to do something. I don't really think anybody really uses the word in the context of someone being able to decide on their own, not really.
Viewed: 80 times
Added: 6 years, 1 month ago
 
kenji321
6 years, 1 month ago
The funnier argument is for a stoic to say people are responsibility for their actions
Zenobius
6 years, 1 month ago
"being pushed into doing something by guilt and social pressure." - Believe me, I had a lot of experiences with that.
People should learn that everyone is living their own lives.
Most people who call themselves 'friends' are often caught trying to manipulate the other into living a lifestyle only 'they' are comfortable with.

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself." -  Friedrich Nietzsche
"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." -  Ralph Waldo Emerson
PeachClover
6 years, 1 month ago
Atlas Shrugged.
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