Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Conversation: Kant and Integrity in Relationships

As for integrity: I hear what you're saying, and I agree, but I'm put off by the word itself. "Integrity" means a kind of wholeness and soundness, like "structural integrity," and that seems...what? rigid? to me.
As an alternative, how about a more relational word: Trust.

What do you think?

I've never thought about the how trust can signify or relate to integrity. I can't imagine I'd ever want to use trust as an alternative to integrity. It's a good compliment to integrity, and it's important. But I don't think it would be fair or sensical to demand that someone trust me, or have the qualities of a trustful person. Trust seems to be much more daunting to most people, especially in the modern urban world, than integrity. And I define integrity as "honoring one's word" ~ like Kant's Categorical Imperative. You don't always get to fulfill on your promises or do what is expected, but if your INTENTION is to honor your word; if you INTEND to be a person of INTEGRITY, then not only is your humanity/imperfect nature still intact, but you get to create life as a game. How? By putting your word out there, trying new things, reaching for new goals, taking new risks, etc. Sometimes you'll fail, or just show up late. Either way, if you find a partner who places emphasis on integrity and understands it, then you're both empowered to "try, try again." And I'm not talking about making uneducated risks that you know may not even really want to make a good effort at. I'm talking about things like quitting a lucrative but thankless job to found a nonprofit, or taking a leadership training course, or announcing that you are dating the man of your dreams to relatives that think you may be straight. For that matter, you can make a promise to be trusting. It may not always go well, but the Intention to honor your word is there. And THAT, to me signifies true strength and health in a relationship.


Thanks for the juicy conversation, Marcos!



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