Just a quick thought tonight…

There are lots of words in English that are derived from proper nouns–things like “Kleenex” or “to xerox” something are more recent additions to our vocabulary, but there are also older words–such as “sandwich” (named after the snacks an English lord liked to eat while playing cards) and “boycott” (named after an English lord that refused to lower the rents for his Irish tenant farmers.

In any case, I’d like to add another word to our vocabulary–and its origin lies in the graphic novel by Alan Moore named Watchmen. In particular, I think it would very appropriate to take the name of the most interesting character, namely Rorschach, and turn it into a verb/predicate that focusses on the true core of the character throughout the novel, but also, specifically, at the end of the novel.

In this, you have Rorschach refusing to engage or support a lie, a deception, and to compromise his values, even though it would bring about his own destruction and possibly the destruction of others.  Thus, “to rorschach” would mean “to refuse to abide a deception or lie, especially when doing so would save or benefit you and possibly others…”

Now–when or how would you use such a term.. and how often.. well.. I don’t know… I do know that I thought about it with regard to my previous post on free will, and it came up in the context of the notion of the “Illusion of free will” and how that relates to morality and human behavior.  In specific, there is the issue of how, when people are told that the universe is deterministic–that events are pre-determined–that they start acting a lot more immorally than they otherwise would.  They feel, perhaps not surprisingly, that they are not to blame for their actions…

In response, I’ve seen various things like this article, that talk about how punishment should still be carried out even if there is no free will–as well as positions like those  found here.. that claim that because we hold certain things to be bad–like killing a child–we should punish those who kill children–even if their actions are totally predetermined by genetics or environment (as determinism would hold)..

Now.. As my last post notes–I don’t think determinism holds on scientific grounds yet–I think the evidence isn’t compelling–but if, for some reason, it were to become compelling–then I would find it extremely hard, I think, to take the arguments by the aforementioned groups about morality all that seriously.. because they would be asking me to act as if I had a choice not to do evil–to refrain from certain behaviors–even though whatever my actions ended up being–that could not have been avoided…

And there.. in that situation, I would probably rorschach pretty thoroughly, because I could not abide living by such a deception…

In any case–this is just a weird thought–pretty un-thought-out, overall.. but I wanted to get it down tonight..


About Prof. Woland

I contain multitudes. Come meet us.
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