Moral lassitude

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  • grassy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Here it probably means 'not acting' i. e. you see a child drowning in a pond and you don't jump in to save them.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I don't quite get what the meaning of "Moral lassitude" is. I'd appreciate it if someone could explain that to me.
    It isn't really an expression. "Lassitude" is a rare word, and combining it with "moral" would be even less common. I don't think I have ever come across the phrase before.

    There really is no point asking about example sentences in in a dictionary, because there is never any context, and without context it is usually not possible to determine meaning. The sentences are there to show usage and to help people looking up an unfamiliar word to find the correct meaning, by finding the closest match to their own sentence in which they found the word.

    "Moral lassitude" might be allowing your moral values to deteriorate through apathy. Alternatively, it could mean something completely different. If you happen to find a source where "moral lassitude" has been used, and can explain the context in which it was used, then we might be able to help you with meaning, in that particular instance at least. But there is no guarantee that everyone uses the phrase in the same way.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    That would be a strange thing to compare with murder of innocents. :)
    Well, they are not equal, after all. Even if we know nothing else about the expression, we know that much.

    Why you think not jumping in to save a child is moral lassitude? In what way is it connected to morals? It seems something more like ordinary lassitude to me?
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Here's another example from Cambridge (again, without context).

    Explanations that emphasize blindness or moral lassitude have proved tempting for many scholars.
     
    It isn't really an expression. "Lassitude" is a rare word, and combining it with "moral" would be even less common. I don't think I have ever come across the phrase before.

    There really is no point asking about example sentences in in a dictionary, because there is never any context, and without context it is usually not possible to determine meaning. The sentences are there to show usage and to help people looking up an unfamiliar word to find the correct meaning, by finding the closest match to their own sentence in which they found the word.

    "Moral lassitude" might be allowing your moral values to deteriorate through apathy. Alternatively, it could mean something completely different. If you happen to find a source where "moral lassitude" has been used, and can explain the context in which it was used, then we might be able to help you with meaning, in that particular instance at least. But there is no guarantee that everyone uses the phrase in the same way.
    Now Jack, it's really not so complicated and mysterious. We are not talking apathy exactly, but the way one feels when one is tired or it seems like a lot of effort to do things. And, consequently, maybe one doesn't do them.

    While the sentence in the OP is perhaps overly dramatic, murder is intentional and extreme evil. If one doesn't bother to do something, even if it's rescue a boatload of refugees, it's not quite 'murdering' them.
    ==

    One finds instances on Google:

    A Dialogue on Moral Education
    - Page 189 - Google Books Result
    https://books.google.ca › books

    Frank Herbert Matthews - 1898 - ‎Moral education
    After all, morality depends, in a more vital way than we often recognise, upon the condition of the animal organism ; and if during this period of moral lassitude ...
    ===

    The Moral Obligations You Have In Old Age | HuffPost


    https://www.huffpost.com › entry › moral-obligations-in-old-age_b_1337...

    Dec 9, 2016 - Or are we forgiven moral lassitude and preference for a restful retirement because we are old and have “paid our dues”?
    ====

    Note that this last example adverts to issues of old age when the 'lassitude' has a definite physical component--lack of energy and strength to do certain things like go to protest demonstrations.
     
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    grassy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Why you think not jumping in to save a child is moral lassitude? In what way is it connected to morals? It seems something more like ordinary lassitude to me?
    Philosophers of ethics often compare the moral status of doing harm (here it would be murdering an innocent person) and neglecting to save from harm (not jumping in to save the child). The result is the same (the death of an individual) but many people think the latter is the less morally contemptible of the two. I thought it was possible that the sentence was about exactly that.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    If I don't jump into the Thames to save a drowning person, child or adult, it's because I can't swim.
    I call that self-preservation and common sense.

    I agree completely with Jack's comments in the third post.
    There really is no point asking about example sentences in in a dictionary, because there is never any context, and without context it is usually not possible to determine meaning. The sentences are there to show usage and to help people looking up an unfamiliar word to find the correct meaning, by finding the closest match to their own sentence in which they found the word.
    Please start reading native speaker sources and ask about what you read there. This example of the usage of 'lassitude' is extremely bizarre, and that's an understatement of 'ridiculously useless'. Is the source mentioned?
    I wonder what 'murder of the innocents' means to you. It's a very weighty phrase indeed to those familiar with the history of Christianity. If I didn't have this reference point I would have no idea of its implications.
    Actually, I think that sentence is total glib rubbish, if my understanding of it is correct, although this is not a language issue.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I wonder what 'murder of the innocents' means to you. It's a very weighty phrase indeed to those familiar with the history of Christianity.
    It occurred to me the sentence was part of a comparison between two disreputable historical leaders, one of whom was Herod. I wonder if the other was Pontius Pilate. Pilate could probably be accused of moral lassitude, openly washing his hands of his own action, and I am sure there are many people who would portray Pilate, for condemning Jesus to be crucified, to be a worse man (or a worse sinner) than Herod, even though all Pilate did was endorse the conviction by the Sanhedrin, whereas Herod ordered that innocent children be murdered.

    This is, of course, conjecture.
     
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    Interesting, Uncle Jack. Possible. I still do not think it's a mystery phrase; in the example you gave, Pilate, in effect, say, 'I don't want to be bothered any further with this.'

    Here is a nice example from the 'net':

    Main Example
    • In the last ten years, hundreds of park rangers charged with protecting elephants and other precious wildlife in Africa have been killed by poachers [seeking to satisfy the] ignoble demand for blood ivory[...] Note that these rangers laid down their lives not just because they were doing their job but because they believed in the sanctity of wild animal life, especially that of elephants who, apart from being one of the most majestic of our fellow mammals, are extremely sentient beings with a highly developed sense of [...] family relationships. [...]This author beseeches and pleads with his numerous Chinese and South East Asian readers to marshal their intellectual power and ennoble themselves by taking forceful action to help save Africa’s elephants. ...they should use all possible means to goad and shame their respective governments into shedding their moral lassitude and squelching the demand for ivory.
    Lassitude
     
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    Shandol

    Senior Member
    Persian - پارسی
    Thank you <folks> for the answers so far.
    It isn't really an expression. "Lassitude" is a rare word, and combining it with "moral" would be even less common. I don't think I have ever come across the phrase before.
    I go along with you on that, Uncle Jack. That's a formal word and I came across it in "Essential Words for the GRE" book. I need to learn it due to the fact that I am preparing myself for the IELTS test.
    There really is no point asking about example sentences in in a dictionary, because there is never any context, and without context it is usually not possible to determine meaning. The sentences are there to show usage and to help people looking up an unfamiliar word to find the correct meaning, by finding the closest match to their own sentence in which they found the word.
    It is worthwhile to mention that the overwhelming majority of the examples written in dictionaries have been taken from books and articles. For instance, in our case, I think the source of the sentence is "American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 2005", however I can't access the content of it.
    "Moral lassitude" might be allowing your moral values to deteriorate through apathy.
    That's exactly what I was thinking about. :thumbsup:
    If you happen to find a source where "moral lassitude" has been used, and can explain the context in which it was used,
    There are two other examples that can be found in Cambridge English Corpus which one of them has been mentioned by Kentix:
    1. Explanations that emphasize blindness or moral lassitude have proved tempting for many scholars.
    2. For the sternest of these writers, to stray from the course of nature was a matter of moral lassitude but not of miracles.
    and as he said, there is no context. :(

    Thanks bennymix for providing those examples. :thumbsup:

    Instead, take the following contexts into consideration:
    It goes without saying that, in the event of a child’s caregiver being genuinely abusive, one would want to be tipped off. But that is not what this is. Instead, it’s mostly a form of spying based on assumptions of moral lassitude that have roots in dark places. “Is this a red flag?” members will ask, before sharing a photo or describing a nanny’s behaviour. Yes, it is.
    Source: These mothers are going nuts for nanny-shaming | Emma Brockes

    In her novel Big Brother, Lionel Shriver suggests that what and how much we eat is linked to our moral standing. The big brother in question, Edison, is a social misfit, and he's morbidly obese. It is beginning to feel as if those of us who don't go in for food presentation are guilty of a similar moral lassitude.
    Source: What's happened to home cooking

    The most ideologically devoted elements in both parties must accept that not every compromise is a sign of betrayal or an indication of moral lassitude. When too many of our citizens take an all-or-nothing approach, we should not be surprised when nothing is the result.
    Source: Opinion | Why I’m Leaving the Senate

    This example of the usage of 'lassitude' is extremely bizarre, and that's an understatement of 'ridiculously useless'
    I think that sentence is total glib rubbish
    What are you trying to insinuate, Hermione?;):p In everyday conversation the expression is superfluous and useless, but in IELTS or GRE exam, no.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Hermione is right - there's not much point discussing dictionary examples where there's no source or context. I'd guess that the sentence was part of some theoretical discussion on ethics.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    One useful exercise could be to collect roughly similar words and think about the difference. Here it could be fatigue, laziness and tiredness. Now you have added 'lassitude' to your passive vocabulary and have an excellent idea of its meaning. You understand 'moral' so you're in much the same situation as us when it comes to a good understanding a phrase like 'moral lassitude'.
    Even if you don't fully grasp the cultural associations of 'murder of innocents' the general meaning is clear. The event is usually called 'The Massacre of Innocents'.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I think the source of the sentence is "American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 2005", however I can't access the content of it.
    I have been able to extract the text. It is quite short, but still too long to post here in its entirety. It is a letter written to the political magazine, The American Enterprise in 2005, comparing parts of American society (which the writer calls "corrupted", and it appears to be these that he applies the term "moral lassitude") with "jihadist acts against us on America" (sic). The final paragraph is
    After all, we do not set up American cells in Muslim nations and murder civilians in the name of religion or secularism. Moral lassitude is not equal to murder of innocents.​

    Moral lassitude therefore appears to be moral degradation (on the part of parts of American society), which is being compared to acts of terrorism (on the part of jihadists). This forum isn't the place to discuss the validity of the argument put forward, but I hope this post will help explain the rather dramatic comparison.

    There is no way the meaning of "moral lassitude" in the quotation in the dictionary could have been guessed at without being able to read the letter from which it came. Even this is not entirely clear, as the letter itself is a comment on an article in an earlier issue of the magazine, which I have not tried to find.
     

    grassy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Thanks for taking the time to find the text, UJ. :thumbsup:
    Does the text mention what exactly it is that those parts of American society are doing (or not doing) that's dubbed moral lassitude?
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Does the text mention what exactly it is that those parts of American society are doing (or not doing) that's dubbed moral lassitude?
    No. "The corrupted parts of American society" (quote from the letter) were clearly discussed in the article the letter was written in response to, but I haven't read it. However, I have now found it here:

    I'll leave it to you to read.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    At the risk of going off topic, you might want to compare moral lassitude with moral turpitude. Before I read this thread I would have had only a vague idea of the difference in meaning.
     
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