Bioethics Blogs

There is a duty not to be boring

Someone has just said to me: ‘You’re really boring today’. It is, of course, something I commonly hear. And it was undoubtedly true. But it made me wonder if there was any moral significance to my personal boringness. Should I repent of it, or is it morally neutral?

I’ve concluded, I’m afraid, that it’s culpable. There is a duty both to myself and to others to use reasonable – no, extraordinary – endeavours – not to be dull.

There are two reasons why I might be boring in the eyes of another.

  1. I might have lived a life which is capable of being entertaining if I did relate my doings, but have chosen not to bother to relate it in an entertaining way.
  2. I might have chosen to live a life in which nothing happened which is capable of entertaining another.
    Surely case 1 is plainly culpable? I have an opportunity to relieve the ennui of another with whom because of the circumstances (party, train, marriage, whatever) I am in a relationship. I selfishly choose not to relieve their suffering.
    Case 2 is perhaps more complex. I start by observing that everyone – yes, everyone – does have a genuine choice whether or not to live a life some events of which will, if related to another, be interesting. Interesting lives are lives of activity and/or reflection. Those are intrinsically good things. They are – with one caveat – better than non-activity and unreflectiveness. Before the caveat, then, good people lead interesting lives. Or at least more interesting lives than non-good people.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.