RE: Good Intentions: Paving a Road to Hell

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Good Intentions: Paving a Road to Hell

in philosophy •  last year 

Life isn’t about where you are going or how fast, it’s about how you get there.

I agree.

all that really matters is what you do, because what we do is who we are.

I only partially agree. I tend not to see the world in black and white.

Intention is important to get to the result of right-action. Intention is not a justification for excusing a wrong-action

...while I generally agree with the above statement, who's to say what's a right action and what's a wrong one? We can usually have a consensus on big actions like the taking of human life or actions taken by criminals, politicians, big banks, or large multinational corporations.

But what about all the different actions we take or observe in our everyday lives?

We judge, offend, insult and condemn ourselves by our very own actions.

This is the problem. I think oftentimes, the intention matters. If we don't consider the intentions of others and simply judge people based on their actions, well, how do we know that our own personal interpretations of their actions are correct?

Sometimes, there can be cultural differences. If you give the "okay" hand sign to a Brazilian, they might think you're telling them to shove it up their behind. A thumbs up to someone from Greece, similar thing. Several Asian cultures consider pointing to things with your feet, very rude and disrespectful. If you did any of those actions, and you were judged solely by your actions, would it be a fair assessment of who you are as a person?

Even within the same cultures, people have different personality types. How someone speaks, behaves or acts can be interpreted differently from person to person. I might tell someone they look nice today. They might take it as a compliment or they might interpret it as me telling them that they don't look nice on other days. I might offer to help carry someone's bags. They might be appreciative or they might be insulted because they believe I think they're too weak to carry their own bags.

My point is, the interpretation of whether an action is good or not can be subjective. Sometimes, we should also consider the intentions behind the actions. So in my opinion:

  • When taking action, we might want to consider how others may interpret our action.
  • When judging the actions of others, we might want to consider the intentions behind those actions.
  • If we are unsure about the intentions behind the actions of others, we might want to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Again, I'm not talking about "big" actions but the everyday actions we encounter. Maybe people would get along better or at least tolerate each other more if everyone did not judge everyone else only by actions.

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The intention does matter. If you do something where you want to hurt someone, vs. you do something but accidentally hurt someone, there is a difference ;) But hurting someone is what matters. Hypothetical: I drove and had an accident and harmed another, vs. I drove and purposefully hit someone with my car.

Most actions aren't dealing with immoral wrongs, but with incorrectness or optimized behavior to achieve a goal. Some are preferences as well. I tend to speak in generalities ;)