The passage below is from our friend Epictetus (discussed in Coddling of the American Mind Ch. 2 and elsewhere). It came to mind after reading Section 3.6 on descriptive and evaluative meaning. The words with the greatest negative evaluative meaning are “bad” and “badly”… Consider a situation recently in which you considered someone’s actions as “bad”. What does re-framing the situation based on the guidance in the book or in the passage below change in terms of your a ) your beliefs and b ) your feelings?
People are hasty about bathing; do not say that they bathe badly, but that he is hasty about bathing. People drink a good deal of wine; do not say that they drink badly, but that they drink a good deal. For until you know their reasons, how do you know that what they are doing is bad? And thus you will not confuse strong evidence for a belief with an endorsement of a belief that lacks this certainty. (adapted from Epictetus’s Enchiridion , Ch. 45)