The passage below is from our friend Epictetus (discussed in Coddling of the American Mind Ch. 2 and elsewhere). It came to mind after reading Section 3.6 on descriptive and evaluative meaning. The words with the greatest negative evaluative meaning are “bad” and “badly”… Consider a situation recently in which you considered someone’s actions as “bad”. What does re-framing the situation based on the guidance in the book or in the passage below change in terms of your a) your beliefs and b) your feelings?
People are hasty about bathing; do not say that they bathe badly, but that he is hasty about bathing. People drink a good deal of wine; do not say that they drink badly, but that they drink a good deal. For until you know their reasons, how do you know that what they are doing is bad? And thus you will not confuse strong evidence for a belief with an endorsement of a belief that lacks this certainty. (adapted from Epictetus’s Enchiridion, Ch. 45)
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