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In civilized life, where the happiness and indeed almost the existence of man, depends so much upon the opinion of his fellow... Options
Daemon
Posted: Wednesday, June 6, 2012 12:00:00 AM
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In civilized life, where the happiness and indeed almost the existence of man, depends so much upon the opinion of his fellow men. He is constantly acting a studied part.

Washington Irving (1783-1859)
jcbarros
Posted: Wednesday, June 6, 2012 1:15:34 AM

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Politicians.
pedro
Posted: Wednesday, June 6, 2012 10:05:44 AM
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or method-acting careerists
percivalpecksniff
Posted: Wednesday, June 6, 2012 10:45:25 AM
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That comment by Irving is a bit jaundiced or cynical. Just because you have regard for your fellow man and his existence, does not mean you are merely acting out a part does it. You may follow a good caours despite the actions of your fellow man.
markm
Posted: Wednesday, June 6, 2012 3:10:58 PM
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The roles we play in life ("in civilized life") to a large extent depend on how we perceive how others perceive us ("the opinion of his fellow man"). We modify our behavior (act a studied part) based on that perception. This appears to be a reasonable explanation, at least in part, of how society functions.
percivalpecksniff
Posted: Wednesday, June 6, 2012 3:38:02 PM
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What about the inner witness? The conscience... working in harmony with ourselves. Of course we consider one another... that is love, and yes, to certain extent self-preservation. But it is cynical to say we are merely acting out a part and takes no account of selflessness and goodness.
MTC
Posted: Wednesday, June 6, 2012 8:45:18 PM
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In civilized life, where the happiness, and indeed almost the
existence, of man depends so much upon the opinion of his
fellow-men, he is constantly acting a studied part. The bold and
peculiar traits of native character are refined away, or softened down
by the levelling influence of what is termed good-breeding; and he
practises so many petty deceptions, and affects so many generous
sentiments, for the purposes of popularity, that it is difficult to
distinguish his real from his artificial character. The Indian, on the
contrary, free from the restraints and refinements of polished life,
and, in a great degree, a solitary and independent being, obeys the
impulses of his inclination or the dictates of his judgment; and
thus the attributes of his nature, being freely indulged, grow
singly great and striking. Society is like a lawn, where every
roughness is smoothed, every bramble eradicated, and where the eye
is delighted by the smiling verdure of a velvet surface; he,
however, who would study nature in its wildness and variety, must
plunge into the forest, must explore the glen, must stem the
torrent, and dare the precipice.

PHILIP OF POKANOKET: AN INDIAN MEMOIR
from The Sketch-Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. (1819-20)
by Washington Irving


FounDit
Posted: Wednesday, June 6, 2012 8:49:26 PM

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Daemon wrote:
In civilized life, where the happiness and indeed almost the existence of man, depends so much upon the opinion of his fellow men. He is constantly acting a studied part.

Washington Irving (1783-1859)


Every part of our existence relates to the opinion of others in one way or another. Everything we think, say or do is influenced by the opinions of others. This is how our self-image is created; how our self-esteem is built; how our sense of self is formed. As we absorb the opinions of others whom we wish to please, we create the role of "me". This becomes the "studied part", shifting and changing over the years as we mature, always influenced to some degree by others.
excaelis
Posted: Wednesday, June 6, 2012 9:19:35 PM

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FounDit, are you seriously suggesting that I might modify my personality to impress beautiful women....I mean other people ? Shame on you !






( unless you're a beautiful woman, in which case I couldn't agree more. You are so insightful. I really hate shallow people, don't you ?)
MTC
Posted: Thursday, June 7, 2012 12:59:25 AM
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Irving was alluding to the concept of the Noble Savage, the Romantic notion that because men in their "primitive" state were closer to Nature, they were also closer to their true selves, freed as they were from "civilized" artifice, and were therefore superior to "Civilized Man." Wikipedia discusses the long history of the Noble Savage at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noble_savage

American Indians exemplified the concept.
percivalpecksniff
Posted: Thursday, June 7, 2012 7:50:01 AM
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I see what Irving is saying, but still disagree with him… in the main that is. Yes we are, to a certain extent, affected by what others say and how they behave. Of course we are, since we are part of the ‘body’ of human society. If we harm the ‘body’ we harm ourselves and this engages a degree of self-preservation. As to whether this is less evident, in what Irving terms the Indian, is a moot point. They too had their social order, albeit less complicated or finely honed perhaps.

But to contrast ‘civilized’ life with the Indian, whom he regarded as less civilized, and to say that those in a more civilized society, or structure, are acting out a part is an exaggeration. He is really saying that we are unaware of the real life, and need to study those closer to nature in order to become enlightened. His is highlighting not flora and fauna, but human nature, and suggesting we, in civilized society, have lost our way.

He uses hyperbole to make his point. There is an underlying truism to his point, but that is all. His comments are really romanticism, as if we have refined away the good by our consideration of others views and feelings. He is advocating that we are lost and need to return to our roots.

I disagree. Yes, we can learn from others, from whatever level of civilization, and that would be refreshing. But to suggest that we are acting out a part, is to say we are not genuine. Did we act out a part when we got rid of the slave trade, or was it something else. Was that a backward step or a more, thankfully a civilized one. Was it one more in tune with natural justice? When human sacrifices ceased was that a civilized step or one back to freely obeying the impulses of our nature? One could go on.

Great men and women have struggled for the rights we have on our civilized world, such as it is. Were they, in their fight for social order, acting out a part? Of course not.


Irving says: The Indian, on the contrary, free from the restraints and refinements of polished life, and, in a great degree, a solitary and independent being, obeys the impulses of his inclination or the dictates of his judgment; and thus the attributes of his nature, being freely indulged, growingly great and striking.unquote

I too obey the obey the inclinations and dictates of my judgment every, and each day of my life. As to these being freely indulged, then neither I nor the Indian can do that, unless we have no regard or love for our fellow man. The Indians had a social structure and a moral code that they followed, and the Indian ‘freely indulging or obeying his impulses’ against such a code, would bring retribution.

If Irvings point is simply that we can learn from the less civilized societies... then the point is taken, but he goes further. Conversely they, the Indian, could learn from others societies.
FounDit
Posted: Thursday, June 7, 2012 1:32:17 PM

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excaelis

No, of course not. I know YOU would never alter your personality to attract beautiful women...er...people.

No, only other folks would do that. uh, huh.

Whenever I make comments about shallow people and acumen deficient folks, always know that you are excluded from that group...*ahem*...just so.
percivalpecksniff
Posted: Thursday, June 7, 2012 2:05:08 PM
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It takes one to know one.
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