collapse
2019 Donation Drive

It's time for our annual Server Donation Drive! We need to raise at least $650 (same as last year) to keep The Cauldron's server online for another year. Please help! Either hit that Paypal button to the right and make a one-time donation in any amount or set up a monthly Bronze, Silver or Gold Donor subscription. You can find more info in this message!

Donations as of 24 Aug 2019: $260 donated. Only $390 more needed to reach our minimum goal!


Note: This total is updated manually, usually once a day


Author Topic: Mirror of Intent  (Read 2912 times)

HeartShadow

  • Adept Member
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jun 2011
  • Posts: 2195
  • Total likes: 3
    • View Profile
    • http://www.flamekeeping.org
Mirror of Intent
« on: August 22, 2014, 03:45:20 pm »
We have many sayings, many beliefs about intent.  That our intent should matter, that meaning well should count for something.  And yet, intent fixes nothing.  Only actions have meaning.

Why do we think intent matters?  We want our intent to matter.  That if we mean well, our actions should be viewed differently when things go wrong than if we didn't care.  But the truth is, if we hurt someone, they're just as hurt regardless of what we intended.  If we help them, it doesn't matter if our goal was simply to make ourselves look good.  What matters is what the result is.

Is intent completely irrelevant, then?  No, because we do what we intend to do.  If we did not have volition, we would simply sit and do nothing.  But outside of our own head, actions are the only thing we can know.

So why is it a mirror?  Because we judge the actions of others based on why we would do them.  We don't see their intent – we see our own.  We see what we want to see as their intent, what we expect to see.  The poor child is out of control because of bad parenting – the rich child has a learning disability.  See someone picking up litter, and what you think of the litter itself changes how you see the person.  Is it someone fulfilling required community service, or simply someone that sees trash as needing to be removed?  We think we see intent, but all we see is the action – cleaning up trash.

We do this even more with people we're close to.  Someone we love gets a pass because they're “having a bad day” or “always has issues with that” where a stranger would never get the benefit of the doubt.  We excuse our own actions with the comforting words that “it's the thought that counts.”

Intent is the definer of future actions.  Without the desire to do something, we never move from where we are.  But intent without action is nothing more than wishful thinking.  It is the start, but it is not the action itself.  And how we see the intent of others changes their actions to us – but the action is the same.

Why we do what we do is deeply meaningful to ourselves.  But judging another by the standards we judge our own actions only leads to confusion.  Once we assume someone else's intent, we color their actions with paints that may not apply.  Once the colors change, it's very hard to wash them clean again.

Prompt- view some recent actions of yours by various possible intents.  How can what you did be viewed?  What does an outside perspective say?

Faemon

  • Grand Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: May 2012
  • Posts: 1229
  • Total likes: 9
    • View Profile
Re: Mirror of Intent
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2014, 01:44:09 am »
Quote from: HeartShadow;156931
the truth is, if we hurt someone, they're just as hurt regardless of what we intended.  If we help them, it doesn't matter if our goal was simply to make ourselves look good.  What matters is what the result is.

Is intent completely irrelevant, then?  No, because we do what we intend to do.


I agree with that last line. If somebody did something to make themselves look good, I believe that the truth will usually out as a result, so it does matter if the goal was simply to make oneself look good and not to help; Because if the same person needed help in the future, and nobody would know it, then the result would be that the self-serving helper won't help because it doesn't make the helper look good and would be deemed not worth doing. It would be different if the motivation were empathizing with the person in need, or building goodwill. The advantage gained in the past would be colored by whether the help was truly given or the benefactor expected to oblige or manipulate the beneficiary, but materially and/or actionably remained the same.

While it's the most appallingly self-absorbed thing for someone to insist that somebody else that they harmed or damaged, excuse them from accountability or reparation based on intentions that would be more useful as paving stones for the road to hell, though... I can't decisively concur that, yeah, it doesn't matter outside of the actions that people take.

I think this maybe better applies to actions that pertain to coasting on an underlying current of power inequality in society that has roots generations back. Not so much for and that action upsetting somebody else who thought, "Hey, this jerk stole my sandwich" when it was really blown out of sight by the wind. The first sandwich-owner would still be hungry. The second sandwich-owner could still have their feelings hurt. But that's effect. If they express their intentions, to assert their rights and defend their property, and the second to eat something, then they could decide that it's no big deal, nobody has to pay for somebody else's therapy, or a new sandwich, or even unpack their internalized pirate-phobia...and can still retain some goodwill. Intent fixes a lot.

Unless there were layers to that interaction, like an eating disorder somebody has developed over a lifetime of body policing by family and society, then conscious intent wouldn't matter because that situation isn't contained wholly within the dynamics of one person's intent and the effect on another.

Quote
But judging another by the standards we judge our own actions only leads to confusion.


It could also lead to empathy, if we're clear that that's what we're doing.

Quote
Once we assume someone else's intent, we color their actions with paints that may not apply.  Once the colors change, it's very hard to wash them clean again.


In psychology, there's something called the fundamental attribution error where, say, a question by a beginner that presumes too much (Say, "How do you contact Satan to make a deal? I ask because I want to be a witch.") can be colored with a paint--who's to say it doesn't apply--as a troll, mainly because of the effect that it has on a community built as a safe space from assumptions such as that.

On the other hand, someone can be empathic by breaking the actor-observer assymetry loop, and give the benefit of the doubt as to context: perhaps the poster asking such a stereotype-dependent question is oppressed by the religious minority of their community and this is the first step they take to strike back and break out -- in a way that's very immature, but understandable.

Or they could really be a bored troll bent on disrupting the community and upsetting people while pretending to be an immature-but-understandable newbie to witchcraft.

So, it's managing both intent and actions that called for various ways of dealing with it to match the appropriateness. If only effect mattered, then the poster should get IP banned for posting that once. If only intent mattered, and this was no troll, then the community could be obliged to slog through unpacking the stereotypes that this poster is coasting on.

Instead, we've got the main zeitgeist (debate and discussion, not so much coddling UPG), spaces within that main space that are safe for newbies (so help them if they don't know their place in this community, or post overly-assuming questions in spaces not for beginners just because they think they want the attention of very experienced practitioners or feel entitled to not being talked down to as a beginner,) functions once logged in for hiding the posts of a mildly annoying other poster, moderators with systems of warnings and bans for continued disruptive behavior.

I'm not a moderator, of course, but I believe that such a system was borne of considering both intent and effect in ways that combine less simply and directly than how intent reveals itself in action. That's why I'm throwing all this in there.


Quote
Prompt- view some recent actions of yours by various possible intents. How can what you did be viewed? What does an outside perspective say?


A few guys in this new neighborhood that I've moved into seem to have caught wise that English is my mother language. That's considered classy, so I don't talk if I can help it to give away my accent, but it's out. So, when they start to flirt with me and I don't flirt back, it's gotten taken as that it's because I'm elitist and waiting for some rich white guy to date and not because I'm not interested in dating.

My intentions don't matter when considering how discouraged they would be, but I kind of refuse to extend any efforts at reparation because I think that their inferiority complex is their own problem and not for me to manage--even if my presence in the area and my actions bring out that negativity in them.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2014, 01:47:32 am by Faemon »
The Codex of Poesy: wishcraft, faelatry, alchemy, and other slight misspellings.
the Otherfaith: Chromatic Genderbending Faery Monarchs of Technology. DeviantArt

SunflowerP

  • Senior Staff
  • *
  • Join Date: Jun 2011
  • Location: Calgary AB
  • Posts: 8132
  • Country: ca
  • Total likes: 223
  • Don't teach your grandmother to suck eggs!
    • View Profile
    • If You Ain't Makin' Waves, You Ain't Kickin' Hard Enough
  • Religion: Eclectic religious Witchcraft
  • Preferred Pronouns: sie/hir/hirs/hirself
Re: Mirror of Intent
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2014, 03:40:39 am »
Quote from: HeartShadow;156931
We have many sayings, many beliefs about intent.  That our intent should matter, that meaning well should count for something.  And yet, intent fixes nothing.  Only actions have meaning.

 
I've done a lot of thinking about 'intent' in the last couple of years. (Quite a bit previously, too, over the years, but the last couple in particular.)

Most recently, I've been considering how one possible way of talking about what integrity is, is that it's when one's actions match one's intentions. The more that happens consistently, the more one has integrity. But to be able to do it consistently, one has to have formed intent.

That builds on some of my previous thinking. It's common for someone whose actions (including verbal actions) have caused hurt to say, 'But I didn't intend that!' as if it was a magic get-out-of-consequences-free card. The ensuing discussions all seem to revolve around how intent is not magic, in a way that implies that intent is inherently ineffective; it assumes that the person is claiming to have an intent different from the result (and I think many of those who say it do think that's what they're claiming).

But that's not actually what they said; they spoke only of lack of a particular intent. To not intend a particular result isn't the same as intending a particular different result. I've gradually come to the conclusion that that's the issue: they didn't intend, period - they spoke or acted without actually forming an intent first, aside from the bare-minimum intent to say out loud whatever is in their heads.

I think this ties in with some of what Faemon said, too - the people who take actions that have good, helpful results, but do it not for that result in itself but for other reasons, lack integrity. The good of the actions still counts, because good was done - and they might well continue doing good... but only so long as their underlying motive continues to be served.

Sunflower
I'm the AntiFa genderqueer commie eclectic wiccan Mod your alt-right bros warned you about.
I do so have a life; I just live part of it online!
“Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.” - Oscar Wilde
"Nobody's good at anything until they practice." - Brina (Yewberry)
My much-neglected blog "If You Ain't Makin' Waves, You Ain't Kickin' Hard Enough"

veggiewolf

  • Adept Member
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Posts: 3105
  • Total likes: 1
    • View Profile
Re: Mirror of Intent
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2014, 11:29:41 am »
Quote from: HeartShadow;156931
... But the truth is, if we hurt someone, they're just as hurt regardless of what we intended.  If we help them, it doesn't matter if our goal was simply to make ourselves look good.  What matters is what the result is.

Is intent completely irrelevant, then?  No, because we do what we intend to do.  If we did not have volition, we would simply sit and do nothing.  But outside of our own head, actions are the only thing we can know.


This piece here is critical to my own worldview, and the reason so many people have called me immoral or amoral over the years.  

My actions matter to all impacted by them - loaning money through Kiva, for example, impacts me, the people running Kiva.org, the people at the third-party lender (if applicable), the person receiving the money, the community of the person receiving the money, and on and on.

My intent matters to me - that same loan through Kiva above impacts those mentioned in the same way, whether I did it out of a sincere desire to help others, out of a sense of noblesse oblige, or out of a desire to appear charitable.  Only I know what my intent is.

This is one of the reasons I'm such a stickler for using words that mean what I'm trying to say, and why I sometimes come across as a jerk about it.  Communication is action, and the only one knows if my intent matches what I say is me, so it behooves me to check to make sure my Words Mean the Things I'm trying to communicate.  

In my opinion, actions should be judged rather than intent.  Actions are tangible where intent is not, and getting caught up in trying to determine intent is an endless cycle I'd rather not join.
Fluid Morality - my spiritual blog
Eating Monsters - my mental health blog

"Religion does not define a deity- it defines the human approach and interpretation of deity." - Juni
"I hate magical thinking in my magic." - Darkhawk
"...a baseball club; a soccer unkindness; a hockey murder; a football team..." - Cecil, Welcome to Night Vale

Tags:
 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
7 Replies
2081 Views
Last post September 20, 2011, 02:23:33 pm
by buttercup
11 Replies
1172 Views
Last post December 29, 2012, 09:09:09 pm
by NorthernangelNimya
16 Replies
2010 Views
Last post March 03, 2013, 01:23:45 pm
by Zoness
2 Replies
2389 Views
Last post August 18, 2014, 10:05:18 am
by HeartShadow
3 Replies
1060 Views
Last post October 05, 2015, 10:38:47 pm
by sailor

Special Interest Group

Warning: You are currently in a Special Interest Group on the message board with special rules and focused discussions.

* Who's Online

  • Dot Guests: 29
  • Dot Hidden: 0
  • Dot Users: 1
  • Dot Users Online:

* Please Donate!

The Cauldron's server is expensive and requires monthly payments. Please become a Bronze, Silver or Gold Donor if you can. Donations are needed every month. Without member support, we can't afford the server.

* In Memoriam

Chavi (2006)
Elspeth (2010)
Marilyn (2013)

* Cauldron Staff

Co-Hosts:
LyricFox & Randall

Senior Staff:
Darkhawk

Message Board Staff
Board Coordinator:
Sunflower

Assistant Board Coordinator:
Aster Breo

Board Staff:
Allaya, Chatelaine, HarpingHawke, Jenett, Morag, rocquelaire, Sefiru

Discord Chat Staff
Chat Coordinator:
Morag

Reserve Staff:
Aisling

Cauldron Council:
Bob, Catja, Emma-Eldritch, Fausta, Jubes, Kelly, Phouka, Sperran, Star, Steve, Tana

Cauldron Assistants
[Non-Staff Positions]

Site Assistants
[Non-Staff Positions]
Webmaster:
Randall