A register of system rules LO29135

From: AM de Lange (amdelange@postino.up.ac.za)
Date: 09/06/02

Replying to LO29122 --

Dear Organlearners,

Winfried Deijmann <deijmann@dialoog.net> writes in reply to Barry Mallis
who wrote:

>>Talent without character is empty.

>I don't agree with you that talent without character is
>empty, but quite the opposite. Talent without character
>is like a Vulcan waiting to burst out. Character without
>Talent is a time-bomb ticking slowly but consequent
>to time zero. At the end of this posting I will get back
>to this. Let me first explain my view on talent and character.

Greetings dear Winfried,

I enjoy this dialogue developing on Barry's proposed system rule very

Let me try to say in one sentenece for each what talent and character are
for me. A talent is an exceptional mental ability of a person to perform
skilfully a particular activity. Character is the combination of all the
qualities (values) by which a person guides all his/her activities, even
those developed into talents.

It is striking that a normal person can have many talents (note plural),
but only one character (note singular). In other words, there is more
wholeness ("unity-associativity") in character than in talents. This is
the very reason why character have control (agency) over talents rather
than the other way around.

>Talent can unfold but only under the agency of character.
>As opposed to talent character is dynamic and changeable.
>It enables development and the actualization of latent talent.
>Within the sphere of influence of character we find the
>(changing) capacities that may be used to any end and the
>(also changing) motives, grounds to any action.

I do not agree that talent can unfold only under the agency of character.
I think that both talents and character are developed through the act of
learning. However, this is not to say that both will be developed by
learning. A person may develop his/her talents by learning while failing
to develop his/her character too. The converse is also possible in that a
person may develop his/her character while failing to develop talents.

This means that a person with talents, but without character, is very
dangerous because he/she uses that talents for destructive purposes. On
the other hand, a person with character, but without talents, will control
his/her activities for only constructive purposes, although not
accomplishing much. If i had to choose between the two, I would choose the
person with character and without talents.

But my choice will be otherwise -- i will choose the person with both
character and talents. It is imperative that character and talents have to
be developed hand-in-hand by the act of learning. This places an immense
responsibility on parents, teachers, mentors and therapists. This is where
our educational system fails dismally.

>If we want to be able to solve people's functioning
>problems - whether in attitude, behavior or achievement -
>it will be indispensable not to only analyze and correct
>the visible behavior, but to try and understand the whole
>inner system of possibilities and limitations of that
>personality - ourselves included: for it is by understanding
>OURSELVES that we create understanding for others.

Dear Winfired, this is a beautiful description. Yet, there is one thing to
which i again have to disagree. Please, do not take my different
viewpoints as a judgement that your's are wrong. A simple truth can be
valued by true or false, but a complex truth can only be complemented by
looking at it from as many different viewpoints as possible.

We cannot solve other person's problems, although we must know how to
solve such problems. They will have to solve these problems themselves. It
is through our knowing that we can guide them with compassion how to do

>It is important to look at the impulses underlying
>behavior. In some situations perhaps we will find
>that the learning process has come to its natural
>end, that the possibilities of this/a particular talent
>are simply exhausted. On the other hand, instead
>of limitations we might as well encounter new
>possibilities for self-development, unexpected,
>sleeping talent....

Dear Winfried, how i wish that you did not use the description "has come
to its natural end". I myself would rather have written "has come to its
unnatural end". After more than 30 years in the teaching profession, i can
safely say that it is very common for the learning process in most people
to come to an end. But this does not make it natural. My greatest and most
difficult task as a teacher has been to help that learning process to
begin once again and then in such a manner that it never ends again.

>The above text is my own latest deeper consideration
>on my quote. Below I describe how I see it actualized.

Thank you very much. It is such deep reflections which help other learners
to get their own understanding more organised.

>When people cannot unfold their talents under the agency of
>character this is what you get:

Near the beginning i had to write: "I do not agree that talent can unfold
only under the agency of character." I think that here my mastering of
English (which is not my mother tongue) is failing me once again. My own
thinking is rather "When people unfold their talents not under the agency
of character this is what you get:"

>In extremo 'Unfocused will' is the expression of talent
>erupting like a Vulcan in shootings, gangbangs and
>socccer-games where hooligans find an unplanned
>outlet for their frustrations. It is talent without character.

Here i agree with you perfectly, as with the next.

>Enron, World.com, the WTC disaster and Catholic
>priests abusing children are expressions of 'educated
>minds', time-bombs: Well prepared and silently planned
>actions by people knowing exactly what they are doing.

Yes, they are like deadly missiles (because of their talents) of which the
guidance systems (because of their lack of character) are broken.

So what will we do about Barry's proposal. Barry, how about the following:

"Talent without character is like a bull in a kindergarten."

With care and best wishes


At de Lange <amdelange@postino.up.ac.za> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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