Principles & Particulars


Malcolm Gladwell, a great author and thinker has a podcast named Revisionist History, where he explores things misunderstood and overlooked. Recently, he published a three-part series about the Jesuits and their process of deliberating tough moral questions called casuistry. 

Casuistry, more or less, is based on descending and deliberating the particulars of a case, not necessarily guiding through with principles in mind, but, of course not completely abandoning them.

Rules matter

As I've established in the past, rules do matter. Rules are something we can fall back on, "cite" when making tough decisions, especially when there's no time to descend into the particular. 

Rules are easily understandable. Rules can be shared with others without much explaining. Rules are like a life net that can catch you when you fall. 

But, sometimes, situations vary by so much, that the life net may not be positioned correctly to catch you.

Descend into the Particular

When we have time and resources, we deliberate. We ask ourselves plenty of questions that may or may not bring us on the right path. Either way, the chance of inaccurate behavior is much, much lower. 

Considering the exact particulars of a case is not hard, nor easy. It all depends on the approach we take, on how much we're personally invested in a case. And that, is hard no to do, considering the examples I've gone through in the last issue.

Particular principles

Is it possible to create rules that at least in some way consider the particulars?

Is it possible to create a formula?

For example:

accident x + consequence y = my response z

Or maybe, it is a staple of the human condition to have to deliberate?

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