Philosophy Issue#2 (Issue#1 here)
Now this is a topic I find myself strongly being able to relate to. I’ve been told countless times “you have to do what you want, what do you want?”. I always have the same answer that I want to do what the right thing is, whether that’s what my parents say, or school says, or whoever I feel is right. It caused me to feel sandwiched with the whole college dilemma, since I didn’t know what I wanted for myself. Since I have such a strong care for others, I want what they want. (Although when I was babysitting, I realized I was sacrificing too much of myself and had to put an end to it.)
Jean Hampton in 1993 wrote an article called “Selflessness and the Loss of Self”. She discusses this topic of helping oneself and having self authorship. There are two “moral voices”, the ethic of care and the ethic of justice.
Women-ethic of care: they take into consideration people’s feelings. Mothers were trained to be this way since they have to raise a family and take care of their children. A mother has to care for her children and be aware of their feelings when siblings fight.
Men-ethic of justice: they make decisions based on logic. Men were trained to be this way since they are in the work place and have to make quick decisions. Business is all about quick decisions based on logic, they never think of the competitors feelings.
We have lots of mitzvos that are other related, “Vehafta L’reach Hakamocha” and you can’t embarrass another person, you have the mitzvah of “Kibud of Haem” and respecting your elders, and the midah of “anivus”. We have the concept of being “mevatar” to give something up for another person to have. All this trains us to be good moral people who care about others.
At the same time I fear we become so other oriented, that we loose focus of ourselves.
The question becomes how much do we owe to ourselves and how much to others?
Boys would say if responsibility to others and to oneself conflict then you go about 3/4 to yourself and 1/4 to others. Boys feel the most important thing in their decision is themselves.
Girls on the other hand would say it depends on the situation that if you have responsibility to someone else then you should keep it to the extent that it is really going to hurt you or stop you from doing something you really, really, want, then maybe you put yourself first. A girl would evaluate what she feels is more important, her job or someone she loves, and if it’s someone she barely knows then maybe she would go first.
Now I personally think the girl is being better. However, I do understand where it’s important to take care of oneself so as not to cause harm to oneself when taking care of others. A perfect example of the girl way of thinking is Tembow in her You want my... honey?? post.
Self authorship is needed for a person to make a decision that is based on what they choose to do, and not dictated by society. This enables you to grow as an individual. An example: an investment banker had wanted to be a clown his whole life, and even though he was making tons of money he didn’t feel satisfied so he decided to drop his job and go to clown school, now he has self authored his life.
I think self authorship is important to prevent a person from doing avairos. If a person chooses what they want, and if they want to do the right thing, then they will. But if they are pressured into doing what other people say, then they may be encouraged to do something they really don’t want to do, and thereby do an avaira.