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Author Topic: "Right and wrong are just words. What matters is what you do."  (Read 4811 times)
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That 80s Guy

Crustacean
*
« on: 10-25-2009 21:21 »

What does this quote mean?  It's said right after Bender asks if what he did was wrong.  The conversation between Bender and "God" was, as a whole, pretty deep (except for the funny safecracker line), so I'm curious what this particular line means.  Is it just poking fun at complex philosophical statements, or is there actual meaning behind it?  Thanks!
Svip

DOOP Secretary
*
« Reply #1 on: 10-25-2009 21:34 »

Could be many things, indeed.  I've always thought of it as a statement against what people usually consider 'right' and 'wrong'.  As if the words themselves were damaged by history of usage.

However, what 'God' is talking about is the motivational ethic.  If you do things for the what you believe is right, then what does it matter if other people label it as wrong?

Though, it may just be poking fun at it.
Marcus
Starship Captain
****
« Reply #2 on: 10-25-2009 22:57 »

That's intersting, I read it the other way; that it's not only what you intend to do [right or wrong are just words] -  but what the consequences of your actions are [what matters is what you do] that count.

It kind of echoes the New Testament 'faith without works is dead' bit, too - idea that  acts, works, behaviour are important to 'right living'.
seattlejohn01

Space Pope
****
« Reply #3 on: 10-26-2009 07:11 »

I think it is meant to tell the person to not get hung up on what others may think about your choices (right & wrong are usually judged by a society); what matters is how you judge yourself & your actions.
Freako

Urban Legend
***
« Reply #4 on: 10-26-2009 07:27 »
« Last Edit on: 10-26-2009 07:29 by Futurama_Freak1 »

It was written to provoke thought and discussion, compare with others' depictions too make your own interpretation so it reflects on what will best apply for you.

/Shoves crayon back up nose
seattlejohn01

Space Pope
****
« Reply #5 on: 10-26-2009 07:53 »

Ah; the Homer Simpson nose crayon...
Freako

Urban Legend
***
« Reply #6 on: 10-26-2009 08:04 »

Whats a crayon?
hobbitboy

Sir Rank-a-Lot
Urban Legend
***
« Reply #7 on: 10-26-2009 11:51 »

I've always assumed it is talking about something like this:

Since no one can predict the future and since any given action can have many unintended concequences…
  Doing the "right" thing may have a good outcome.
  Doing the "right" thing may have a bad outcome.
  Doing the "wrong" thing may have a good outcome.
  Doing the "wrong" thing may have a bad outcome.
Especially in unfamilar situations.

So when it comes to deciding what to do, you may as well just use your own judgement rather than relying on (someone else's opinion of) what's "right" or "wrong".

(Well, that's what I get from it, anyway.)

Don't hate me, Trinity.  I'm just the messenger.
LobsterMooch
Professor
*
« Reply #8 on: 10-26-2009 19:59 »
« Last Edit on: 10-26-2009 20:02 »

Also consider that the choices you make not only affect you but also those around you, many that you don't know. You can  be aware that your actions always have some effect on others and judge what risks you are willing to take.
If you drive under the influence you could arrive safely, while making some body swerve to miss you and they land in a ditch. You will be home asleep, the other guy permanently asleep.
Your life should be as free from turbulence as possible. Turbulence is random as uncontrolled.
That 80s Guy

Crustacean
*
« Reply #9 on: 10-27-2009 14:15 »

Could be many things, indeed.  I've always thought of it as a statement against what people usually consider 'right' and 'wrong'.  As if the words themselves were damaged by history of usage.

However, what 'God' is talking about is the motivational ethic.  If you do things for the what you believe is right, then what does it matter if other people label it as wrong?

Though, it may just be poking fun at it.

I see what you're saying, that right and wrong are subjective, but that's like saying a serial-killer is right (to himself) in murdering, but to the rest of us is wrong, so what does it matter?  Shouldn't there be some objective measure of right and wrong so as to give a standard by which we can value our actions? And even so, if Bender's intent was to prolong the life of his people, isn't there definitely an objective measure of right and wrong in that case?

That's intersting, I read it the other way; that it's not only what you intend to do [right or wrong are just words] -  but what the consequences of your actions are [what matters is what you do] that count.

It kind of echoes the New Testament 'faith without works is dead' bit, too - idea that  acts, works, behaviour are important to 'right living'.


Don't "right" and "wrong" provide a measurement of outcomes in addition to intent?  If I do something (i.e. which has a consequence), shouldn't I be able to use right and wrong to see how much and in what way that consequence matters?

I think it is meant to tell the person to not get hung up on what others may think about your choices (right & wrong are usually judged by a society); what matters is how you judge yourself & your actions.

Nice, you seem to be in agreement with what Svip said.

I've always assumed it is talking about something like this:

Since no one can predict the future and since any given action can have many unintended concequences…
  Doing the "right" thing may have a good outcome.
  Doing the "right" thing may have a bad outcome.
  Doing the "wrong" thing may have a good outcome.
  Doing the "wrong" thing may have a bad outcome.
Especially in unfamilar situations.

So when it comes to deciding what to do, you may as well just use your own judgement rather than relying on (someone else's opinion of) what's "right" or "wrong".

(Well, that's what I get from it, anyway.)

Your final point is also similar to what others have said, but you're reasoning behind it is interesting.  Can't we at least say that doing the "right" thing will more often than not lead to a "good" outcome, at least compared to doing the "wrong" thing?  Also, according to your final point, good and bad can be subjective, so why are these words part of your argument?

Also consider that the choices you make not only affect you but also those around you, many that you don't know. You can  be aware that your actions always have some effect on others and judge what risks you are willing to take.
If you drive under the influence you could arrive safely, while making some body swerve to miss you and they land in a ditch. You will be home asleep, the other guy permanently asleep.
Your life should be as free from turbulence as possible. Turbulence is random as uncontrolled.

So do you think that it's impossible to control turbulence to some degree?  If we can control it to some level, then isn't that some form of being "right"?

These are all great ideas, everyone.  Thanks for sharing your thoughts! And I don't mean to antagonize anyone- I just want to encourage discussion and make sure I really understand what you're saying and what I'm missing.
hobbitboy

Sir Rank-a-Lot
Urban Legend
***
« Reply #10 on: 10-28-2009 14:36 »
« Last Edit on: 10-28-2009 14:40 »



      I've always assumed it is talking about something like this:

      Since no one can predict the future and since any given action can have many unintended concequences…
        Doing the "right" thing may have a good outcome.
        Doing the "right" thing may have a bad outcome.
        Doing the "wrong" thing may have a good outcome.
        Doing the "wrong" thing may have a bad outcome.
      Especially in unfamilar situations.

      So when it comes to deciding what to do, you may as well just use your own judgement rather than relying on (someone else's opinion of) what's "right" or "wrong".

      (Well, that's what I get from it, anyway.)


   Your final point is also similar to what others have said, but you're reasoning behind it is interesting.  Can't we at least say that doing the "right" thing will more often than not lead to a "good" outcome, at least compared to doing the "wrong" thing?  Also, according to your final point, good and bad can be subjective, so why are these words part of your argument?


Lazy writing on my part, probably. How about replacing 'good' with 'desirable' and 'bad' with 'undesirable' in my quote?

Also, since there are no definitions of 'good' and 'bad' that everyone agrees upon, those terms can't be anything except subjective.

Though, to be honest, the more I think about it the more likely it seems to me that it was just a funny line which the writers threw in because of how deep and meaningful it sounded.

Don't hate me, Trinity.  I'm just the messenger.
I.C. Weiner

Bending Unit
***
« Reply #11 on: 10-29-2009 06:55 »

To expand upon Hobbitboy's statement a good modern example of the ambiguity "good" and "bad" would be political correctness. We have all fallen victim to this ridiculous ideology where telling a person the truth is wrong while telling them a more palatable lie is right. I can't speak to the intentions of the writers but in my opinion right and wrong have become so distorted that they are making a philosophical statement about god and good and evil and how it relates individually to all of us.
seattlejohn01

Space Pope
****
« Reply #12 on: 10-29-2009 08:27 »

I think that, with some exceptions, most people know what's right (honesty, kindness, generosity, etc) and what's wrong (lying, conceit, stealing, etc); there are universal standards that transcend geography & culture.  Personally, I hate "political correctness" because it twists these ideals; my personal style is to tell the truth & letting the chips fall where they may.  There are ways to be honest with someone and still lessen a bad impact with compassion & empathy; for me that's totally preferrable to lying to someone (I've never developed the ability to lie convincingly; I particularly hate telling lies to cover lies etc).  But that's me; for all I know, others may think somewhat or totally differently.  What do you think?
hobbitboy

Sir Rank-a-Lot
Urban Legend
***
« Reply #13 on: 10-29-2009 11:12 »

I dislike the concept of lying but I catch myself doing it from time to time when it is particularly expedient to do so.

Don't hate me, Trinity.  I'm just the messenger.
That 80s Guy

Crustacean
*
« Reply #14 on: 10-29-2009 21:01 »

It seems most of you are in agreement that the line is some sort of commentary on the subjective qualities (and to some degree, how these words have become distorted in everyday language) of the words "good" and "bad".  The fact that Bender replies to the statement by saying "Yea, I know, that's why I asked...Oh nevermind" supports your argument that it's futile to have an objective stance on what is good and bad.  Thanks for explaining what the quote probably means to me! 
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