Two Infinities

Mon, 26 Sep 2005

Hermeneutic of Generosity

There are many wonderful things to think about packed into Tracy Kidder's Mountains beyond Mountains. Fun for me was Paul Farmer's lexicon. The term hermeneutic of generosity as in "I have a hermeneutic of generosity for you because I know you're a good guy. Therefore I will interpret what you say and do in a favorable light. Seems like I (Farmer) should hope for as much from you (Kidder)." had a special resonance. I remember struggling with French at St. John's College some 30 plus years ago. We were translating passages from Maximes by La Rochefoucauld. One maxim in particular has stuck with me for some reason, "Self love increases or diminishes for us the good qualities of our friends, in proportion to the satisfaction we feel with them, and we judge of their merit by the manner in which they act towards us.(88)" What strikes me is the same observation made cynically by La Rochefoucauld is made, well, generously by Paul Farmer. Except that now there is an element of consciousness, of will involved. "I know you are a good guy so I shall tilt my judgement in your favor." And an element of generosity; he is tilting his judgement in advance of Kidder's act of publishing his observations of Farmer.

Self love transmogrified simply to love...

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