Tautology Tuesday – Shakespeare Edition

“All’s well that ends well.”

There are many instances in life in which we give up so much in order for a shot at a better “ending.” Getting into hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt so one can practice medicine; giving up love and friendship in order to move to the place one has always wanted to live; giving up buying cars and a home and saving every penny for a better “future” for yourself and your children. So in the case of positive “ends,” do the “ends justify the means?”

That can be a tricky question when we get into ethics. The classic example is that a starving person steals food from a store in order to satisfy a physiological NEED – is this morally wrong or is it right? Being in the position where sacrificing one life would save multiple lives – is this ethically justifiable?

I cannot speak to the answers to those and similar questions. For me, personally, the answer is usually “yes;” however, that is a HARD “usually” and far from an “always.” Another “glitch” of human psychology is that our brains like to see things in black and white, right and wrong, good and bad, when the reality of things is, as I have discussed here multiple times, chaotic, and therefore inherently a spectrum of “grey.” That does not mean that I do not believe there ARE “blacks” and “whites” (figuratively speaking, that is); it is just that perhaps those antithetical poles are not necessarily able to be known by us – or perhaps, to look at the “situation” in a different light, we distort things so much that we have created and continue to create a range of greys and we have pushed the definitive opposites to unrealistic edges.

With that discussion aside, I do think the saying “all’s well that ends well” is a tautology. If the outcome is ultimately good (morals aside), does it really matter what good or bad necessarily preceded the “end?” It would be easy to argue that it does matter – for instance, if you gave up a “true love” in order to better your life overall and the outcome was, with the exception of being with that person “GOOD,” is it true that “all’s well” if you are left with everything you have ever wanted … AND a broken heart? Or is that taking a black and white “tautology” into the depths of grey and not taking “all” at face value?

It’s an interesting question – at least it is to me – and it’s an interesting one to think about when making decisions in our lives. Contemplating the “good” and the “bad” here in terms of what we might give up in order to attain a “good” outcome is not just some epistemological exercise – I do think it can help us not only determine what we want in life but it can help steer us when we have to make exceptionally difficult “life” decisions. I think that basically speaks to everything I have written about so far on this “blog.” So with that thought, I will leave you for now! I hope you are all having a happy and healthy day wherever you are in the world!

❤ Always, Beth


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