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24 August 2008 @ 02:59 pm
Thought for the day  
"It is not sufficient to 'not try to' do X. It is necessary that you actively 'try not to' do X."

Your thoughts?
LeiaCatleiacat on August 24th, 2008 07:09 pm (UTC)
Seems like a good distinction to make, but it seems to me like there is time and place for both of them, and it cannot be said that one or the other are the right answer all the time.

For instance, I don't try to fall in love with people, but I most certainly refuse to try not to.
aedificaaedifica on August 24th, 2008 07:20 pm (UTC)
If X is something that it's important not to do, then I emphatically agree.
Adrian Turtleadrian_turtle on August 24th, 2008 07:26 pm (UTC)
That depends on X. If I "do not try to" kick my sister, that would be sufficient, as kicking one's sister requires quite a bit of activation energy for it to happen. (An extraordinary amount for those of us with no sisters, but that's beside the point.) It requires very much less effort and volition for me to oversleep, and thus it would not be sufficient for me to "not try to" oversleep...but that's partly about the difficulty of the job. It might not be sufficient for me to "try not to" oversleep, under some circumstances.
ex_serenejo on August 24th, 2008 07:39 pm (UTC)
Completely and entirely dependent on the value of X.
I'm a mockereusashead on August 24th, 2008 07:46 pm (UTC)
It depends on the level of trying and intention needed to do X in the first place. If X is a bad habit one slips into, or the action involving the least energy as opposed to a better choice (e.g., dropping candy wrappers on the floor), then yes, actively try not to do it.

I used to tell my kids to "actively try not to" do X all the time. I don't remember what X was, though.
Fat Fred the Otter and Skippy: iotterfatfred on August 24th, 2008 08:44 pm (UTC)

Yep. All of us agree.
Depends on what X is!
Ruby Megmeglimir on August 24th, 2008 08:58 pm (UTC)
Reminds me of ... I was kind of a clumsy kid around growth spurts ... Every so often I broke something or repeatedly hurt myself in the same way, like whacking the same elbow on the same corner three times in a row ... my Grandmother would get angry and ask me why wasn't I more careful, and I would say I didn't mean to, and she would ask me, well, obviously I hadn't meant *not* to, had I?!
starcat_jewelstarcat_jewel on August 25th, 2008 12:36 am (UTC)
Now that's verbal abuse. I don't like to diss your grandmother, but that sort of response is weasel-wording of the nastiest type, intended to convince you that you DID TOO mean to break that vase, because if you hadn't, then obviously you would have been more careful. I'm pretty sure there's a slot for this in the eight standard Verbal Attack Patterns, but I'm feeling to lazy to go look it up right now.
Barbrahirah on August 24th, 2008 09:11 pm (UTC)
Depends on the X.
A Wandering Hobbitredbird on August 24th, 2008 09:18 pm (UTC)
As others have said, it depends on the X. I think, in particular, it depends on whether you need to get out of the habit of X. So Adrian wouldn't need to make an effort to not kick her hypothetical sister; someone who had been having low-level hostilities with her sister in the back seat of the family car for years might have to make an active effort to stop kicking.
Johnjohnpalmer on August 25th, 2008 12:07 am (UTC)
When "X" is "hurting people" (for example), yes, I emphatically agree. You have to stop and think about how your actions could hurt people, and try to avoid it if possible.

I think it can extend to any action, but then it opens itself up to questioning. What does it mean to "try not to" (steal, for example)? People could argue that it means walking away from temptation, or confronting the urges that turn a person into a thief; others could argue that it's senseless, because stealing something is too active.

I think it's a really good principle, but it's akin to the Golden Rule, where it requires the right kind of interpretation to make it into something good and useful.
smcwhortsmcwhort on August 25th, 2008 04:01 am (UTC)
Depends what your goal is. If you want to avoid doing X, then you should probably try not to do X, rather than not try to do X, especially if X is the sort of thing that is easy to do accidentally. If it's not easy to do X accidentally, or if you merely seek to avoid the maximum level of culpability that comes from doing X, not trying to do X should suffice.
amaebiamaebi on August 25th, 2008 02:44 pm (UTC)
That there's a strong distinction, but that my personal preference for the initiative attempted depends a lot on what X is.