Thursday, January 5, 2012


So, I am tired and ever-so-slightly red-wined after book group. It has been a long day and I am still processing and thinking about it. Iris had a response to the embarrassment/moral consciousness post:

Hmmm…To be capable of embarrassment is the beginning of moral consciousness. Honor grows from qualms.

I think what John Leonard may have been getting at is that when one experiences embarrassment, de facto one recognizes that some action one has taken has not yielded the social (or emotional) outcome intended.  Embarrassment is, therefore, a non-narcissistic experience.  The actor is paying attention to the social / emotional reaction to his action.  The actor is aware of and cares about what is outside himself. 

The state of embarrassment, in this context, creates a learning opportunity: the actor can reflect on what he did, how others responded, what he intended or would have preferred others’ response to be, and what he can do differently in the future.  Embarrassment assumes one cares about how one is perceived.

But moral consciousness?  The state of moral consciousness is also non-narcissistic, assumes that the actor is aware of the social / emotional world outside his own head, but I don’t see how, where, or why the development of moral consciousness would require embarrassment or necessarily result from embarrassment.  Like you, Sally Anne, perhaps I don’t understand what is meant by moral consciousness in this context.

And let’s not forget who said this – John Leonard was a critic, not a philosopher, and not necessarily a really insightful thinker.

I would have written all this as a comment on your blog but I still haven’t figured out how to do that successfully.

I am not entirely convinced, but willing to talk, about moral consciousness being non-narcissistic, but Iris' comments did help to clarify my thoughts. 

Meanwhile, Manuel had some thoughts on the Tao:

Not to get to deep into it but Taoism is something I've spent a fair amount of time over the years reading and pondering. So I say unto you, do not confuse non-action with no action. The difference is huge and one of the hardest to get at, but it is one of the main points that I grok from Taoism.  It's about not forcing and flowing, all the stuff you may remember from Aikido days.  Not thinking too much but just the right amount.  Now what is just the right amount?  Ah grasshopper?

I responded:

thanks! I will continue to ponder that ... is it a conundrum? Dichotomy? I knew that inaction did not seem the correct ... well ... action or response. At the very least, contemplation of action, non-action, inaction, force, and flow should help align the proper course of behavior/attitude ...


Correct non-action can allow the right next steps to percolate or present themselves.  I think alot of what you have been processing and workingout the last few months is just that.  But at some point you have to, (pick your metaphor)--take the first step/s, strike the blow, put the brush to paper, get 'er done.   Again, simple, but not easy.  Not to mention complexity and emotion raising their heads.  Not so easy to chop them off. 

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