'Pragmatism' versus 'Idealism' -- which are you?
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26-09-2011, 06:28 AM
 
'Pragmatism' versus 'Idealism' -- which are you?
The pragmatist says: "it is silly, wasteful, pointless dreaming about an ideal world that will never come. I accept reality as I found it and spend my energies on changing
whatever detail I have control over".

The idealist says: "If nobody challenges the basic assumptions our civilization is built on, then those assumptions will never change. I could fiddle with the details forever, and it
would be like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Sometimes one just has to keep shouting on the top of one's lungs that we are on the wrong road"

Comments?

ETA: The rare manifestation of my pragmatic side is documented in the "Proposal for a new social contract" thread.
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04-10-2011, 04:55 PM
RE: 'Pragmatism' versus 'Idealism' -- which are you?
Your proposal for a new social contract is no less than brilliant.

If I were to call it utopian and hard to vision in present times, I would be a pragmatist. If I say it's the hope for mankind and where do I start digging, I am an idealist.

I can say both... so what am I?

I would normally see myself as a pragmatist in that I like to think I have a handle on reality and the tools that are available are simply what I have to work with. So I'll use what I have and try to change the status quo. By your definition though, I am an idealist. I can scream and rant with the best of them, taking the message to the masses, but that is a part of being pragmatic as well in a way. If I were stuck in a hole and I couldn't get out, I would scream and rant till I could get help... and I would start digging at the same time with my fingernails.

Who can turn skies back and begin again?
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04-10-2011, 06:15 PM
 
RE: 'Pragmatism' versus 'Idealism' -- which are you?
The popular myth is that if you are an idealist, and live up to your own ideals, it may require personal sacrifices. This is not necessarily so.

Being a ‘practicing’ idealist may accomplish two goals at the same time: contribute to making the world a better place and contribute to making me a happier person. So, in this sense, an idealistic ‘selfless’ act can be selfish at the same time.

My own idealism is part personal, part ethical, part pragmatic.

The personal part is easy.

I like to think of myself as a ‘good’ person, doing ‘good’ things in the world. When I face a conflict between my desires to do the good thing and what society wants me to do, I feel bad. When I can not avoid acting against my wishes, I try to justify by saying things like “I am just doing my job”; “I am not running the show”; “I did not make the rules”. But these don’t really help much. I still feel bad and still feel guilty. I know I betrayed my convictions, my self esteem suffers.

The ethical is a little harder.

Most of the time I know what the ‘right thing’ to do is. I know what fair, honourable, just, decent, humane means. I am aware of the basic ethical principle of “don’t do onto others what you wouldn’t others do onto you”. I know about the ‘wrong’ of double standards, selective blindness, I know how horribly wrong is the excuse: “the end justifies the means”. These ethical standards are harder to betray and, if betrayed, harder to hide from my judging mind. Many of us are willing to make serious personal sacrifices to stand by our ethical values.

The pragmatic is the hardest to understand.

Because it is pragmatic only in the long run.

Evil is as strong as its supporters are numerous. Hitlers, Stalins, Bushes don’t act alone. They have supporters. The active and deliberate supporters are just as evil, but they are relatively few. The evil ones are entirely dependent on masses of passive supporters, who just go along, looking the other way, not saying “NO” to evil. The robo-cops, the soldiers, the workers in the weapons and munitions factories, the administrators, the jail guards, the millions of people in millions of positions supporting the system. The millions of consumers contributing to and benefiting from the evil system, based on human exploitation and environmental destruction. It is a truism to say that: if all citizens decided to do the ‘right thing’ and refused to support an ‘evil’ system, it would collapse.

All of the above are individual, personal decisions. Any one of us has the option to live up to our ideals as close as humanly possible, or find some more ‘comfortable’ compromise. The decision is a personal choice between values.

What is more important to me?

On one hand I can have the rewards society offers to co-operating citizens. Comfort, luxuries, toys, financial security, career, success, ‘status’. On the other hand there are the intangible values of honour, self-esteem, feeling ‘right’, fair, compassionate.

The way I look at it, is the following:

I have this one life, a unique opportunity to experience the wonders of existence. For a few decades. It is not likely to be repeated, so whatever I do, I have to do it now and get it right the first time.

So what is more important to me?

The answer is a no contest: I am a ‘devout’ idealist for purely selfish reasons.
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04-10-2011, 11:47 PM
RE: 'Pragmatism' versus 'Idealism' -- which are you?
(04-10-2011 06:15 PM)Zatamon Wrote:  The popular myth is that if you are an idealist, and live up to your own ideals, it may require personal sacrifices. This is not necessarily so.

Being a ‘practicing’ idealist may accomplish two goals at the same time: contribute to making the world a better place and contribute to making me a happier person. So, in this sense, an idealistic ‘selfless’ act can be selfish at the same time.

My own idealism is part personal, part ethical, part pragmatic.

The personal part is easy.

I like to think of myself as a ‘good’ person, doing ‘good’ things in the world. When I face a conflict between my desires to do the good thing and what society wants me to do, I feel bad. When I can not avoid acting against my wishes, I try to justify by saying things like “I am just doing my job”; “I am not running the show”; “I did not make the rules”. But these don’t really help much. I still feel bad and still feel guilty. I know I betrayed my convictions, my self esteem suffers.

The ethical is a little harder.

Most of the time I know what the ‘right thing’ to do is. I know what fair, honourable, just, decent, humane means. I am aware of the basic ethical principle of “don’t do onto others what you wouldn’t others do onto you”. I know about the ‘wrong’ of double standards, selective blindness, I know how horribly wrong is the excuse: “the end justifies the means”. These ethical standards are harder to betray and, if betrayed, harder to hide from my judging mind. Many of us are willing to make serious personal sacrifices to stand by our ethical values.

The pragmatic is the hardest to understand.

Because it is pragmatic only in the long run.

Evil is as strong as its supporters are numerous. Hitlers, Stalins, Bushes don’t act alone. They have supporters. The active and deliberate supporters are just as evil, but they are relatively few. The evil ones are entirely dependent on masses of passive supporters, who just go along, looking the other way, not saying “NO” to evil. The robo-cops, the soldiers, the workers in the weapons and munitions factories, the administrators, the jail guards, the millions of people in millions of positions supporting the system. The millions of consumers contributing to and benefiting from the evil system, based on human exploitation and environmental destruction. It is a truism to say that: if all citizens decided to do the ‘right thing’ and refused to support an ‘evil’ system, it would collapse.

All of the above are individual, personal decisions. Any one of us has the option to live up to our ideals as close as humanly possible, or find some more ‘comfortable’ compromise. The decision is a personal choice between values.

What is more important to me?

On one hand I can have the rewards society offers to co-operating citizens. Comfort, luxuries, toys, financial security, career, success, ‘status’. On the other hand there are the intangible values of honour, self-esteem, feeling ‘right’, fair, compassionate.

The way I look at it, is the following:

I have this one life, a unique opportunity to experience the wonders of existence. For a few decades. It is not likely to be repeated, so whatever I do, I have to do it now and get it right the first time.

So what is more important to me?

The answer is a no contest: I am a ‘devout’ idealist for purely selfish reasons.
Idealism at least give us the opportunity to initiate new and hopefully kinder and more socially creative ideas. There are no guarantees.

Pragmatism deems to foster a 'more of the same mentality' upon us, by filling us with fear and an often phony patriotism.

I see the worst aspects of capitialism as creating a crazed population of rampantly ravaging consumers who, like the rats led by the pied piper, may well be led to a sad and sorry demise.Sad
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05-10-2011, 08:14 AM
RE: 'Pragmatism' versus 'Idealism' -- which are you?
Idealism is not necessarily benign. It's based on ideology; that is, a principle of which the ideal manifestation is imagined in a certain specific way. Not everyone desires the same ends, nor shares the same ideal.
Mine is pragmatic. I imagine a society that works for the greatest possible portion of its members - ideally, all of its members, but that's an elusive goal to strive toward, not something i consider realistically achievable.
I see no conflict between idealism and pragmatism, notion and practice: idea - plan - process - result. Any rational entity is capable of this. We humans can do it in small projects like building a clever-boots missile; can't seem to manage it in feeding ourselves.

If you pray to anything, you're prey to anything.
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05-10-2011, 08:54 AM
 
RE: 'Pragmatism' versus 'Idealism' -- which are you?
Good point, Peterkin.

Of course, I was talking about 'Good Idealism' versus 'Bad Pragmatism' -- I did slant it that way, didn't I?

Big Grin
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05-10-2011, 12:55 PM
RE: 'Pragmatism' versus 'Idealism' -- which are you?
Yes, and on a personal level, too. I took the long view, which may not have been on topic.

Personally, i'm still idealistic only within pragmatic parameters.
If a cashier gave me $1 too much change, i would return it. But if i found $1, or $20 on the street, i wouldn't take it to the nearest police station. $100, maybe...
If an old lady fell down the subway steps, i would rush to her aid. But if somebody were robbing her at gunpoint, i wouldn't. Call for help, probably.
I'll go on a peaceful protest, as long as there are no storm-troopers. But when the Inquisitor calls me in for an interview, i'll recant before the pincers are lukewarm.
I know what's right and wrong; what i ought to do. I also know my limits.

If you pray to anything, you're prey to anything.
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06-10-2011, 11:03 PM
RE: 'Pragmatism' versus 'Idealism' -- which are you?
A pragmatic idealist ... no wait ... an idealistic pragmatist.

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
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