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.
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.
5 years, 11 months ago
06 Oct 2012 01:38 CEST