Math Buddha's Blather

Uh, I don't know, just read it and see for yourself.

Friday, July 06, 2007


Someone asked me to define my concept of Charity, and I figured it would make a good blog post. My concept of Charity arises mostly from my concept of Respect, so I'll start there. Respect to me is when you don't assume that someone needs your help. When you don't assume that you know more or know better. When you talk to someone with a stutter and you hold yourself back from finishing their sentences, that's Respect.

Now Respect is just fine, and it seems to me that a measure of Respect is the only valid foundation for humane fellowship, but I eventually realized that something else is necessary. For example, if someone has just failed a test, and you know that they hadn't studied, Respect would demand that you tell them it was their own fault. I decided that Respect had to be moderated by something, some basis for kindness or generosity. I decided to call it Charity.

If I were to define them topologically, I would say that Respect is closed, in that it contains all of its limit points, while Charity is open, meaning that every point is interior. In other words, it's really easy to see where Respect begins and ends, but Charity is much more vague. Respect is hard, where Charity is soft. If a man in a bank yells at a teller for dropping some change, it isn't very respectful to think to yourself "He's just having a bad day.", because you assume that he's not strong enough to overcome whatever's bothering him without getting flustered, but it is charitable.

I don't know if that makes any sense, but like I said, Charity isn't easy to pin down.