Monday, September 28, 2009

Being praised for what you do

Some time ago I wrote about the side effects of actions and how we evaluate them. Side effects of actions are one of those intriguing issues of the philosophy of action: We can say a lot about them, but it is difficult to reach a definite conclusion. One problem is, as I discussed: Are we (or to what extent are we) the doers of these side effects if we could not foresee them when we acted? Are we then responsible for them or are we not, or are we partially responsible? And how about the side effects that we did foresee but that we had rather avoided? But maybe we thought: “Okay, this effect is less important than our actual action”. Or we just do not care. Of course, side effects can also be positive. One of the remarkable things is, as we have seen, that we are blamed for the negative side effects of our actions but not praised for the positive ones (see my blogs of February 23, 2009, and later).
Side effects of actions cannot be avoided. Moreover, even when we consider in advance thoroughly what we are going to do, we can foresee only a few consequences of our actions. And among those we do foresee there are often some that we do not desire to happen. The world is too complicated to be able to bring about only what we like. The only “solution” would be doing nothing, and even that is a doing from the point of view of many philosophers.
More than two years ago I started to write my philosophical blogs. Frankly speaking, I did not write them for the readers; I wrote them for myself. But what I had not thought about so much, but what I could have foreseen, of course, is that some people reacted. Even more, I got a group of readers. I do not want to say that it changed my blogs a lot, but in the end, when writing, you take attention to it that you are read and it influences what you are writing, despite that you still write for yourself. And so it happened to me, too.
I think that I can consider having a group of readers as a positive side effect of my writing my blogs, for my main purpose was stimulating my thinking and ordering my thoughts in a less formal way then when you write an article. Writing blogs is excellent for that, and I would have continued writing blogs, also when I would not be read and when I would never receive a reaction. What I did not expect, however, was being praised for my blogs. Hadn’t I written myself that people are blamed for negative side effects of what they do but that they are not praised for positive side effects? However, often it happens that theories are falsified and must be revised.
Now the theory that people are not praised for the positive side effects of what they do has been falsified by at least one instance, for the unexpected thing happened. My blog is not only read by other people, but I am even praised for it. A few days ago I received a message that my readers have submitted and voted for my blog at The Daily Reviewer with the consequence that my blog is in their top 100 philosophy blogs (see the reaction to my blog “What are we voting for?”, published two weeks ago). And I got even an award for it. Therefore, I want to thank from the depth of my heart all those readers who voted for me and brought me in the top 100 philosophy blogs! Thank you very much. It is very nice of all of you.
Of course, I want to try to continue writing blogs of the same quality. I’ll do my best for it, although I cannot promise anything. Sometimes it happened that I had written a blog and later I thought: no, it was not worth publishing it. The only excuse that I have for it is that I definitely want to publish a blog every Monday, unless I have an airtight excuse for not doing it. Then it can happen sometimes that inspiration fails. But now I have a second goal when writing my blogs: not only writing for myself but, as human as human is, trying to reach the top of the list of 100. Who knows, maybe I’ll succeed, maybe not. It is not only in my hands but also in the hands of my readers and maybe in other hands, too. But if I succeed, and if I reach the top, one thing is sure: I can no longer say that it is a side effect of my action of writing blogs.


Luzdeana said...

Congrats, Henk!
You deserve this award and let me tell you that I admire your discipline to write every week. You are also setting a good example of commitment to an action that you know it's worth.
Enjoy it, as many people enjoy your writing.
All the best for you.

HbdW said...

Gracias :)