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Happiness, Loyalty and Betrayal, My Voice, philosophy, Search for love, statement

Good for Good – (Reciprocity Series, 2 of 4)

Only a few remain in the net…

The real work of relationship is becoming “worthy friends” – whatever that is?

The net is starting to fray – the sites you’ve casted your net on have brought you just these few interesting “prospects” – they have done what they can do – it’s up to you now. Remember, assembling to many prospects is worse than not having enough.   As a salesman I use to define a prospect as someone that knew they had a problem and had set money aside to resolve the problem within a specific time frame.  In this case, I think the analogy mostly applies.

Yet… not quite! Unlike a sales prospect the needs of a relationship are much more subtle than many business problems to solve. The two major differences come in the form of how well each individual knows themselves and the needs they want another to fill. There’s so much material (think romantic comedy) to this area that I will only use a couple of examples that I’ve confronted personally.

In the same way, I will use myself as the “I” that has to be chosen for. This “I” is spelled out in another post. It is also assumed that my partner in this process has defined her own character and therefore is prepared to enter into a seriously joyful discussion of being and giving nurturing in a relationship.

Towards the end of this series of post I will reveal several of the hedges and horrors that are not always easy to deal with but have their effects on how and if the nurturing negotiated for can be delivered – ever.

Not to confuse matters, but I am using the phrase “moral obligation” in a non-foundational way.  I am not saying that there are rights granted from a state of nature that must be honored.  What I am saying is that we should see our allegiance to social institutions by reference to familiar; “commonly” accepted premises – but also as no more arbitrary – than choices of friends or heroes.

Such choices are not made by reference to criteria – that is based in nature herself. They cannot be preceded by presupposition-less critical reflections, conducted in no particular language and outside of any particular historical and cultural context. We choose…and there is no accounting for taste!

When I say “we should do this or that “we cannot” do that, I am not, of course, speaking from a neutral standpoint. I am speaking as a student of Richard Rorty who would have us convert philosophy and ethics into a kind of special case of tool making.  These tools would be used to make “truth” for the redescriptions of familiar phenomena for their better use in times of transition – as we are in now. Truth is more poetic than fact – whatever they are.

Good for Good,

The first premise in the moral argument for Reciprocity is that good should be returned for good.  The good in this case has to do with the performance of acts of nurturing.  The simplest way to see the execution of this process to is look to how corporation’s celebrate the Return on Investment to its stockholders, but in this case, the investor is a conspirator in the creation of relationship unlike the stockholder simply invest capital.

In general, exchanges (of good for good) are typically a potent source of pleasure in their own right – no matter if they are virtual or face to face.  That is, the mere transactions are a source of pleasure, independently of how highly the participants prize the things or the method of distribution for the exchange. (We often mean it when we say it’s the thought that counts.)

Next we need to note that the pleasures we take in reciprocal exchanges are enormously fecund.  By prompting us to act reciprocally, they generate many of the conditions under which the sustained pleasures of social relationships are possible: by modeling the behaviors we want from others in return we recreate the infinite regress of life.  It is therefore an instrumental good.

Strictly, of course, taking pleasure in reciprocal exchanges for their own sake is not necessary for prompting the sort of reciprocal behavior we seek demonstrated. It will not suffice if one lover simply states their disposition to return good for good, with whatever affect prompts others, in particular situations, to take part.  Taking pleasure in the total proceeding belongs to the virtue of simple friendliness, rather than to reciprocity, which is a larger subject than we are engaged here.

We all need help – becoming is complex: daring to seek a new relationship , challenging yourself to create a product orient profile, scheduling the meet and trusting the first date brain chemistry  all combined to achieve our extrinsic goal – leaning toward love. All the while you battle the uncertainty of expanding your boundaries (while not losing self-conscious, purposeful activity characteristic of a seeker – to be able to define things as ‘other’ or not worth the effort necessary) to build a relationship.

Reciprocation for that help – if it is a general feature of this building relationship – reinforces helping behavior between the parties so engaged.  It is a powerful element in sustaining the longevity that is also a point of evidence we need to keep track.  Not reciprocating, on the other hand, if it were an aspect of the relationship’s build up phase, would quite likely extinguish helping behavior as the relationship itself fails. (Lasting unrequited love is rare.) Certainly, if evil were typically returned for good, the help would cease.

There are considerations that have to be taken into account for authenticity’s sake. Resources are scarce, and time and energy are limited, so the more accurate the communication is the more adapt the result will meet the recipients stated need.  Reciprocate for every good received whether asked or not may well be impossible – or at any rate so depreciate the original needs that it would cripple the relationship in ways unforeseeable making process untenable.

It does not follow, however, that people ought to adopt a disposition of selective reciprocity – i.e., a disposition to make returns for only some of the good they receive.  Quite the contrary – for our proposes, all things considered, that we ought to be disposed to  reciprocate for everything, and to work out the necessary compromises regardless of our perspective with competing demands in the relevant principles of governance .

The determining justification for this stand maybe that reciprocity is a recipient’s virtue.  This excludes the need to attempt to measure each gift based on the provider’s notion of benevolence and confine the decision of appropriateness and capacity to the recipient. It is about how we received the gifts. Surely we should not respond to them with evil, or with indifference.

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.



  1. Pingback: Evil is as Evil Does!(Reciprocity Series 3 of 4) « On Happiness - April 12, 2011

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