4 February, 2012, The Unreasoned Principle

Right, short journal entry. See how that goes. Probably looking at an aberration here.

I was thinking about principles and how they can get you into trouble. In general, they are good to have. Good to believe in something. Stand by something. Have standards, will travel.

No, I'm not going to bother trying to define what I'm talking about outside of saying principles are things felt strongly about. Willing to make decisions about life, the universe and everything based on them. Stand up to people because of them. Go with people on principle.

But, how strongly should one stand on principle? When should a body yield?

Principles are good to have, as I said. Should be willing to make and stand by decisions based on principles. Things felt strongly. Stand firmly behind. However, does bending a principle make that principle meaningless? Previous stands hypocritical?

I say, no, and I'm going to claim for the sake of my not very thoroughly reasoned argument that there are essentially three kinds of principles. There is unprincipled, reasoned principles, and unreasoned principles.

Unprincipled is obvious to me. Otherwise known as no principles. Will do anything for anybody. Will do anything to anybody. Which is a slight exaggeration, I know. Just because one doesn't have or at least claim to have principles doesn't automatically mean one is running around being naughty.

Reasoned principles are things to stand upon but are open to debate. Given a really good argument and a think, a reasoned principle can be changed. Realize that not so much thought went into the principle or stand as may have been considered at the time. Changed or ignored because a given situation is more important and the principle didn't really cover that possibility in the first place.

Unreasoned principle is something held so strongly that it cannot be reexamined by argument or circumstance. Most obvious example is to answer "no" to any situation regardless of whatever else may be involved. No reason can be heard. No argument examined that could contradict or otherwise cause the principle to be altered.

The unreasoned principle is so fixed that any possible change, consideration or alteration would simply invalidate the whole thing. The unreasoned principle is felt so strongly that anything that might invalidate it cannot be considered under any circumstances. Arguments fall upon deaf ears.

Principles felt so strongly that they are immutable are little different than having no principles at all. When one cannot listen to argument or another's reason simply because it could invalidate what one stands upon, one loses touch with another. One loses empathy. Compassion. Because reason and circumstances cannot be heard or applied. The principle, unassailable by reason, thought or compassion, is more important than one's connection with one's fellow man.

Bit of an extreme, simplistic argument, I know, but I thought it was an interesting thought.

Journal entry is a little longer than I thought, too. Should try this more often. Doesn't even have to be a pseudo-profound topic, either.

copyright © 2012 by keith d. jones – all rights reserved