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Exchanges and Meaning (Reciprocity Series, 1 of 4)

In the Beginning…

A net is cast on the water!!

Scurrying – flickering screens – clicks, flips and failures are mixed with a few – just a few that come together, and it’s started.  No one knows what the outcome from this initial casting will bring into existence – they all have hopes. The romantic in me wants to tell you something – show you something – before it all goes away – but …who?

Dating sites offer huge opportunities, but the “more” only leads to other problems.  In a retail setting – everyone wants lots of customers – the more the better.  Even in the early stage of dating site selection getting access to a large subscription base is better than a smaller one.

Sooooooo! If you are market focused – like I am- you build the best model to attract the largest number of the best candidates.  Then operationalize the model- testing its capacity to produce the results you had planned for.  In my work life, I designed many functional processes to produce measurable results. I used a very sophisticated toolbox while working to accomplish effective and efficient results.  Even in matters of the heart – why not be focused – it’s only partly magic, at the end – its process before magic.

The net holds – filters, both human and software expels malformed matches, but at some point it’s the picture and a few words that hook, snag and draw close those that have the highest potential to form – a relationship of value. But there is still too many – any number greater than one is too many.

This is where all the lessons of the past form the very nature of what’s to follow – a relationship of value: the exchanges.

Now only personal encounters count.  The questions start in earnest – what acts of nurturing can you deliver – need – uncover – sacrifice or not! I’m asked why didn’t live up to promises I gave in the past? After a couple of starts – runs – breakups (three in fact) prospective lovers want to know – why should this time be any different? Fair question!

In my earlier days – youthful fantasies offered – all things seemed possible – in truth only ambitions where spoken – performance hardly ever matched up – exchanges failed, hearts where broken. Now I’m being held to account for the reputation of youth and its arrogance.

Those failures expose how tied we are to exchanges. They define more than simple acts – they show how action and the lack thereof are meaning. The construction of all human to human activities is found in their exchanges – reputation in this sense is an investment of exchanges made at an earlier time that provides certain benefits or deficits at another, later. Three failed marriages – defiantly a deficit!

Some have held that reciprocity is a defining or ‘structural’ element in the human psyche, giving rise to our most basic social practices and institutions.  It has been held to be a central feature of social transactions, and the determining factor in the development of personal and political power.

Other claims are more modest: that it plays an important part in individual social development; that it is the best strategy for dealing with iterated prisoners’ dilemma games that it helps to develop the trust necessary for friendship and also in defining the risk from such.

My view is more in line with the latter than the former.  In so far as there are many virtues and capacities that reciprocity simply can not explain such as self annihilation. So there will be times where we will take note of other moral strategies even though our prime methodological tool is reciprocity.

The short version of the concept of reciprocity can be summarized in the following maxims:

  • Return good for good

  • Resist evil

  • Never return evil for evil

  • Make reparation for the harm we do

  • We should be disposed to do these things as a matter of moral obligation

In the following, I assume that we should be disposed as a matter of moral obligation to conduct ourselves within the theory of reciprocity.  I will spend most of the next post outlining my views on the first three elements (return good for good, resist evil and never return evil for evil) and will leave to the last post in this series the discussion of reparation.

To be continued…

About Reputationist

When I started this blog in 2007 the following is what I was up to - things have changed - some. I'm what my handle states - an Oldude. The problem with this acknowledgment is my thinking and ambitions have not quite got the message of my "oldness". I've started an online Coaching practice and my rant is about how to improve long term happiness - For the World. My thing, I believe I can change the world - isn't that a hoot. The way I intend to change the world is to foster a wider and deeper appreciation for "mindfulness": The daring, flair and grace of Jayz; the political savvy of Cornel West; the creativity of Mos Def with the business and cultural daring of Richard Simmons. I've thought enough - being a philosopher of sorts - and trained hard with some of the sharpest minds ever on the planet - Cornel West and Michel Foucault to know the total absurdity of trying to change the world - but I do and I will. There it is showing my age again.


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