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#1
Old 03-10-2014, 04:16 AM
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What is your true personal ethos right now?

First, some definitions:

Quote:
Ethos
From Wikipedia
Ethos (/ˈiːθɒs/ or /ˈiːθoʊs/) is a Greek word meaning "character" that is used to describe the guiding beliefs or ideals that characterize a community, nation, or ideology.

Ethos (ἦθος, ἔθος, plurals: ethe (ἤθη), ethea (ἤθεα)) is a Greek word originally meaning "accustomed place" (as in ἤθεα ἵππων "the habitat of horses", Iliad 6.511), "custom, habit", equivalent to Latin mores.

Current usage

Ethos can simply mean the disposition, character, or fundamental values particular to a specific person, people, corporation, culture, or movement. Ethos refers to the spirit which motivates the ideas and customs.
Quote:
ethos noun \ˈē-ˌthäs\
: the guiding beliefs of a person, group, or organization


: the distinguishing character, sentiment, moral nature, or guiding beliefs of a person, group, or institution;
Quote:
e·thos [ee-thos, ee-thohs, eth-os, -ohs]
1.
Sociology . the fundamental character or spirit of a culture; the underlying sentiment that informs the beliefs, customs, or practices of a group or society; dominant assumptions of a people or period: In the Greek ethos the individual was highly valued.
2.the character or disposition of a community, group, person, etc.
3. the moral element in dramatic literature that determines a character's action rather than his or her thought or emotion.
So, what is your true personal ethos at this point in your life? In other words, what is the genuine feeling or belief which underlies what you actually do, not what you want to do, try to do, mean to do, hope to do, plan to do, or wish you did - just what you actually did/do.

The ethos of The Straight Dope is claimed to be fighting ignorance. The actions support that claim, however imperfectly.

Many people, if asked this question, would claim that their ethos is love, primarily of family. And they may wish it to be, but I'm sure we all know immediately what action supports that claim and what belies it. And I'm not saying people are assholes if they fail to live up to the ethos they wish they had, I think most of us spend a good portion of our lives striving to align our actions with our highest ideals. But until the actions and the ideals actually do align, there is another ethos driving the actions that supplant the actions that would reflect a genuine committed ethos of loving one's family, and often we don't stop to consider what it is. I believe that doing so can only help one achieve ideal/action alignment.

So. Right now, at this point in your life, what is the true ethos that informs most of your action? If you'd like to share…if not, then I hope you do consider the question personally...
#2
Old 03-10-2014, 04:34 AM
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#3
Old 03-10-2014, 07:14 AM
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I have never heard "ethos" used in this way. As your last definition says, it does not really mean a belief or set of beliefs, but something vaguer, a "sentiment", and as all your definitions strongly imply, its usual and primary application is not to individuals but to a community, organization, or other organic grouping of people. To suggest that it means a person's most fundamental beliefs is to misrepresent its meaning by cherry-picking secondary aspects of from three slightly clumsy attempts to define this rather difficult and nebulous term.

Someone who said that their ethos was love of family (or, come to that, love of money, or whatever) would be misusing the word, in my opinion. What they should say, to express the underlying idea, is something like that what they most value is love of family (or money, or whatever).

Last edited by njtt; 03-10-2014 at 07:15 AM.
#4
Old 03-10-2014, 07:30 AM
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my credo, if you have to have a credo, is, y'know, "go for it"
#5
Old 03-10-2014, 08:37 AM
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#6
Old 03-10-2014, 08:47 AM
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Pretty simple: treat people how you want to be treated.
#7
Old 03-10-2014, 08:53 AM
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#8
Old 03-10-2014, 09:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by njtt View Post
I have never heard "ethos" used in this way. To suggest that it means a person's most fundamental beliefs is to misrepresent its meaning by cherry-picking secondary aspects of from three slightly clumsy attempts to define this rather difficult and nebulous term.
It may be unfamiliar to you, but it is entirely correct. I did not suggest that it means a person's fundamental beliefs, I stated and I mean that one's personal ethos refers to the beliefs/attitudes/feelings that drive one's behavior.

As this blogger puts it:

Quote:
A Personal Ethos?

What is a personal ethos? It’s not a term or expression most of us are familiar with. What is it and should it play any role in our lives? Do we need a personal ethos?

Good question.

All of us actually do have a personal ethos – we just may not be able to clearly articulate it. But we do have a pattern of values, motivations, and aspirations that can be distilled from decisions, both large and small, that we have made in our lives. We are what we decide, how we behave, and what we do – much more so than what we say, what we intend, or what we think we want. This pattern makes up the ‘personal ethos’ by which we live, consciously or unconsciously.

It can be empowering to know, accept, and understand the values and aspirations that are behind our decisions and actions, and even more empowering to choose and embrace them, rather than be pushed around by them….A personal ethos that we create and try to live by, can give us a sense of direction and even purpose for our lives – especially if it is crafted to fit our particular needs, personality, and circumstances.
Asking someone what their values are will frequently lead to answers that do not clearly relate very much to a person's behavior, and that is really the distinction here, and precisely the reason I chose the word.

Example: a person might say that they value cleanliness and order. They might believe it, want to, etc.

But that same person creates filth and chaos everywhere because they spend every single spare moment they can squeeze out of their lives on playing basketball, and being clean and neat takes more time than being a slob.

In that case, their ethos is their feelings about their time and their desire to play basketball, because it drives what they actually do, overriding their still-genuine desire to have a clean and ordered environment.

It's about integrity, which at its most basic simply means living an "integrated" life: your actions and your conscious, chosen values mirror each other. But we all have perfect integrity when examined from the perspective of our personal ethos, because we all have feelings and beliefs that motivate us to choose Action B over Action E, even though we wish we would choose action C - our actions are perfectly integrated with the beliefs, desires, emotions that make up our personal ethos, or we wouldn't have taken them.

So if we find that we are often frustrated with ourselves because we wish we had done something different than what we actually did, then it's time to dig down and figure out what is driving us to do things which do not match the values we think we have. When we figure it out, we will know what our personal ethos is.
#9
Old 03-10-2014, 10:05 AM
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#10
Old 03-10-2014, 10:05 AM
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It may be correct, but is it right?

*ponders*

Really makes you think.
#11
Old 03-10-2014, 10:25 AM
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I'm not sure I understand this, but the thought that is with me constantly and has shaped most of my decision of late is suicide. I want to end my life. I have given away belongings and ended friendships to minimize the impact of my decision. I have a plan and I know when & where. The only thing keeping me here is not wanting to hurt my mother.
#12
Old 03-10-2014, 10:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foggy View Post
The only thing keeping me here is not wanting to hurt my mother.
Do you care enough about your mother to get professional help? Getting help is less of an inconvenience to others than killing yourself.

So I'd try the professional help thing first, because with that option you can always change your mind afterwards, and you're less likely to screw up and end up a drooling vegetable and burden on your poor mother.

Last edited by thenonepercent; 03-10-2014 at 10:33 AM.
#13
Old 03-10-2014, 10:34 AM
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It's hip to know, ya gknow.
#14
Old 03-10-2014, 10:35 AM
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The Big Lebowski supports this usage of "ethos" so I will allow it
#15
Old 03-10-2014, 10:43 AM
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Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.
#16
Old 03-10-2014, 10:59 AM
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Even if it's not "correct" or accurate in specific fields of study, I think it's intended to be a more colloquial phrase for the average person to use. I dug Stoid's rap and I'm giving it a ponder.
#17
Old 03-10-2014, 11:04 AM
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Also, this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by thenonepercent View Post
It may be correct, but is it right?

*ponders*

Really makes you think.
Immediately brought to mind:
Quote:
Phil : No, don't go! I'm doing this for you!

Luke : Are you, dad? Are you?

{cut to 'confessional' scene with Phil alone on the couch}

Phil : The kid made me think with that one. Who was I really doing this for?

{cut to 'confessional' scene with Luke alone on the couch}

Luke : Sometimes I just say, "are you, dad? Are you?" Because he gets real quiet and doesn't notice when I walk away.

Last edited by zweisamkeit; 03-10-2014 at 11:05 AM.
#18
Old 03-10-2014, 11:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foggy View Post
I'm not sure I understand this, but the thought that is with me constantly and has shaped most of my decision of late is suicide. I want to end my life. I have given away belongings and ended friendships to minimize the impact of my decision. I have a plan and I know when & where. The only thing keeping me here is not wanting to hurt my mother.
Foggy my dear, you've been a member of the community for a long time and we've weathered a lot together, all of us, including you.

There have been times we have had to put you on sabbatical because while we care about what happens to you -- because we do care about what happens to you -- letting this go unaddressed is not useful to you or your friends here or the community at large.

We'll put you on sabbatical again if that's necessary but before we go there I want you to consider getting some help and being seen in a medical setting, maybe even on an emergency basis -- some intervention is in order.

It's not just your mother -- there are people who hope for your betterment here. Work with us. Pick up the phone and make an appointment, go the ER, go be seen. Today. Please.
#19
Old 03-10-2014, 11:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stoid View Post
So, what is your true personal ethos at this point in your life? In other words, what is the genuine feeling or belief which underlies what you actually do, not what you want to do, try to do, mean to do, hope to do, plan to do, or wish you did - just what you actually did/do.

I was going to be glib and respond with something (hopefully) funny. But goddammit, I gave the OP serious thought and I can honestly say - I have not the slightest fucking idea.

Is that bad?
#20
Old 03-10-2014, 11:50 AM
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Everything I do is because I want to feel good. Sometimes you have to rationalize it a bit: "if you clean up the house you will feel better at the end than you would if you spent the time slacking off" sort of stuff, but in the end I'm all about the hedonism. The thing is, pleasure comes in all sorts of forms - even martyrdom can be a pleasure to the right personality. So it's a thing I think drives a lot more people than they realize or care to admit.

I find a lot of people mismatch what they say and do - they really have no idea what's actually driving them. Sometimes when they do figure it out they forget to stop and think about it every 2 years or so and see if they're actually still doing what they say they want to do.

Last edited by Macca26; 03-10-2014 at 11:51 AM.
#21
Old 03-10-2014, 12:08 PM
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I don't believe anything. That's the beauty of it!
#22
Old 03-10-2014, 12:12 PM
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I don't believe you.


....Hey, you're right!
#23
Old 03-10-2014, 12:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TubaDiva View Post
We'll put you on sabbatical again if that's necessary but before we go there I want you to consider getting some help and being seen in a medical setting, maybe even on an emergency basis -- some intervention is in order.
I have had help, nearly 20 years of therapy & medication. I see professional people weekly.

Go ahead and put me on sabbatical, it's for the best.

Thank You.
#24
Old 03-10-2014, 12:26 PM
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Live and let live.
#25
Old 03-10-2014, 12:41 PM
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"Bo was a simple man. He had such a simple life that he only had one etho."
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#26
Old 03-10-2014, 01:36 PM
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#27
Old 03-10-2014, 01:44 PM
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Last edited by Archeonomist; 03-10-2014 at 01:46 PM.
#28
Old 03-10-2014, 03:48 PM
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I have no idea how people can be glib or nonchalant about this. What the OP is asking for is a summary of your essence, a summation of your soul (not in a religious sense). If you don't/can't have an answer to this, it sounds like your "life-spark" has been extinguished, and there's no "there there."

In my case . . . I have often referred to myself as a "recovering objectivist," and that will most likely continue as long as I'm alive. I'm re-examining beliefs that I thought would be absolute, and discovering that some of them arise from faulty premises on a very fundamental level. So I'm shedding that certainty that had, for years, been such a comfort, and daring to question beliefs that had been "carved in stone." So I'm in a period of major transition right now, and feeling very much alive.
#29
Old 03-10-2014, 04:09 PM
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Try to make yourself useful.
#30
Old 03-10-2014, 04:47 PM
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Currently, my main driving ethos would essentially be Adam Smith's invisible hand, with the provision that we should be pursuing self-interest in a rational and ethical manner. Find your talents/interests and use them in a manner supported by the market. In the end, you will benefit not only yourself but the people around you.

This is not to look down on things like charity and government aid, mind you. But if you're expecting either of those to solve the world's problems, it's just not going to happen. There is no amount of money alone that will forever eliminate poverty from the face of the Earth. The "sustainable" solution to helping other people is to find a way to make a living at it.
#31
Old 03-10-2014, 05:19 PM
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Last edited by El_Kabong; 03-10-2014 at 05:20 PM.
#32
Old 03-10-2014, 05:30 PM
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Life is short. I know that's said all the time, so much that we've been desensitized to what it means, but it is. Everyone only has a few decades in the universe, and too many people spend that time worrying about the future. Sometimes it's good to take a deep breath and enjoy living in the moment. That Earth harbors such diverse life is pretty amazing, and I'm glad I was lucky enough to be born in the time and place I was. So I try not to let it all slip by.
#33
Old 03-10-2014, 06:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by panache45 View Post
I have no idea how people can be glib or nonchalant about this. What the OP is asking for is a summary of your essence, a summation of your soul (not in a religious sense). If you don't/can't have an answer to this, it sounds like your "life-spark" has been extinguished, and there's no "there there."
Are you open to hearing an alternative interpretation?

Not everyone wants to wax philosophically, even if they are deeply introspective. There are some people who choose to live life rather than thinking and talking about it. They may believe that being too conscious of it detracts from the experience. And I share this opinion. It's kind of like how some people make a big deal of being mindful or pursuing happiness. The moment you become intentional about it, the "essence" of what you're doing is lost.

I try not to answer questions like this because it always feels like I'm deluding myself, no matter what I say. I can say that my personal ethos is to optimally balance a lifestyle of simplicity with personal growth and fulfillment. But I probably fall short of this a LOT, and I'm not wise enough to know to what degree. I know that I don't get out of bed every morning thinking, "How am I going to have fun today without giving myself an ulcer?" No, my thoughts are much more concrete and mundane. Feed the cats. Eat this sandwich. Finish this report. Pick the boogers out of my nose. There is no ethos in my thoughts, guiding my actions. Whatever I come up with as an ethos is completely ex post facto, and thus likely self-serving and convenient.

So I find that it's best that I not delude myself and admit that I have no ethos, which doesn't say anything about who I am beyond me being someone who doesn't want to claim an ethos. You are free to judge me as not having as much of a "life spark" as you. Or you can simply acknowledge that a question like the OP's requires a lot of personal insight--something that not all of us possess.

Last edited by monstro; 03-10-2014 at 06:02 PM.
#34
Old 03-10-2014, 07:58 PM
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But whether you meant to or not, you actually did describe your "ethos," very eloquently.
#35
Old 03-10-2014, 09:52 PM
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#36
Old 03-11-2014, 07:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monstro View Post
So I find that it's best that I not delude myself and admit that I have no ethos, which doesn't say anything about who I am beyond me being someone who doesn't want to claim an ethos. You are free to judge me as not having as much of a "life spark" as you. Or you can simply acknowledge that a question like the OP's requires a lot of personal insight--something that not all of us possess.
Rather than say, 'personal insight is something that not all of us posess', I prefer to say that there is something to be said about too much time spent with self reflection. So, while there is some truth in the sentiment that an unexamined life is not worth living, it is equally true that too much time spent in self-evaluation can make one appear affected and boring.

Know thyself, but don't be pedantic about it.
#37
Old 03-11-2014, 08:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by panache45 View Post
I have no idea how people can be glib or nonchalant about this. What the OP is asking for is a summary of your essence, a summation of your soul (not in a religious sense). If you don't/can't have an answer to this, it sounds like your "life-spark" has been extinguished, and there's no "there there."
Or perhaps that your ethos is "try not to take yourself, or the people and things around you, so damned seriously." Being that we're all hurtling toward inevitable death, and the world is a pretty absurd place.

"Get over thyself," is another way to put it.
#38
Old 03-11-2014, 11:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QuickSilver View Post
Rather than say, 'personal insight is something that not all of us posess', I prefer to say that there is something to be said about too much time spent with self reflection. So, while there is some truth in the sentiment that an unexamined life is not worth living, it is equally true that too much time spent in self-evaluation can make one appear affected and boring.

Know thyself, but don't be pedantic about it.
Just speaking for myself, of course, but I know that for me, it is about insight. To answer the OP, I need to know something about my personal intention. Not the proximate intention but the ultimate intention. The latter is accessible by the conscious mind The part of me that likes to tell feel-good stories. But the ultimate "driver" in me--the thing that presents me with ideas and controls how I react to them--is unknown to me. I can't speak to a personal ethos because I don't really know why I do what I do or think how I think or feel how I feel.

See, even those of us who don't like to think about stuff like this can be pedantic!
#39
Old 03-11-2014, 11:23 AM
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#40
Old 03-11-2014, 11:24 AM
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I am very selfish, self-centered, self absorbed, independent.....take your pick.

I tend to believe that everyone should be more personally responsible.
#41
Old 03-11-2014, 11:30 AM
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I would say I have two ideas that guide my decision-making and the way I deal with people. I guess that counts. One is: I have nothing to hide and no one to answer to, and I keep it that way. The other is: Time is more important to money.
This may explain why I don't have much money and don't care who knows it.
#42
Old 03-11-2014, 11:55 AM
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#43
Old 03-11-2014, 02:10 PM
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Life is a process, a series of propositions. One of the things I've realized is that we are compelled to live in a certain manner, in an alignment with an ethos as you put it, because they are the struggles we deal with on a larger part. At some point, they stop being a conscious driving point and just become the essence of who we are, and we move on to the next journey. Looking back over my life, I've always known when I've progressed because I've been able to encapsulate the whole journey into a simple saying or motto. At one point, it was a struggle to define the difference between what is good and what is right and that led immediately into the next of defining trust and the ethics of freedom, which has inevitably led to where I am now, though I am on the verge of moving to the next one, we'll see how that goes when it comes.

So, for as I am now, it's best summaraized as "Keep your eyes on the horizon." We can best orient ourselves using the horizon, and we set our eyes off on the distance we can just keep going. If we look up, we may have some grand guidance by the stars, but we moreso have our heads in the clouds and we can easily trip over even the smallest object before our feet that we don't see. Inversely, if we look down at our feet, we may never trip, but we have no grand aim, we can easily get lost wandering in circles, directionless, lost in the mundane details. But at the horizon, we have a perfect balance between it all. We can still have the stars to guide us, but we can also still navigate the mundane details of our daily lives to get as far as we can. Goals should be seen, at most, as milestones, but we should never stray off-course.

Interestly, this leads to me doing and believing a lot of things that don't make sense to most people, other than in the context that it is how I live my life. But I can also honestly say that, other than some brief moments, I'm as happy now in general as I've ever been, substantially moreso than when I followed some of the more traditional ethos. In fact, it was following those that led to my collapse and reassessment into where I am now. To each his own path, I suppose.
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