Moral Paralysis

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Krisxc

New Member
Cantonese
Hello Could anyone explain the meaning of this phrase in the following paragraph? Thank you in advance!

Half hidden among the pile of papers is a bulky parcel containing five volumes which his editor has sent with a note suggesting that they “ought to go well together.” They arrived four days ago, but for 48 hours the reviewer was prevented by moral paralysis from opening the parcel.

< Source, in case anyone wonders in the future: Confessions of a Reviewer, by George Orwell
posted by Cagey, moderator >
 
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  • Ponyprof

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Procrastination.

    He isn't physically paralyzed, just emotionally.

    It is a slightly older form of English to use moral as synonymous with mental or emotional *in some situations.*

    Another older synonym is "nervous" but "nervous paralysis" would be a mental illness of some kind.

    He just lacks the mental or moral strength to do the job he has contracted to undertake. A truly "moral" person would grit
    his teeth and do the unpleasant job.

    In this particular instance the phrase has nothing to do with morality, whether the writer thinks the task is right or wrong.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I think I recognise that sentence. The writer was a book reviewer, and he dreaded the task of writing reviews for five books (all completely different and all boring).

    His will was paralysed. I suppose "moral paralysis", means "not physical paralysis".

    (crossposted)
     

    Krisxc

    New Member
    Cantonese
    Procrastination.

    He isn't physically paralyzed, just emotionally.

    It is a slightly older form of English to use moral as synonymous with mental or emotional *in some situations.*

    Another older synonym is "nervous" but "nervous paralysis" would be a mental illness of some kind.

    He just lacks the mental or moral strength to do the job he has contracted to undertake. A truly "moral" person would grit
    his teeth and do the unpleasant job.

    In this particular instance the phrase has nothing to do with morality, whether the writer thinks the task is right or wrong.
    Thanks a lot!
     

    Krisxc

    New Member
    Cantonese
    I think I recognise that sentence. The writer was a book reviewer, and he dreaded the task of writing reviews for five books (all completely different and all boring).

    His will was paralysed. I suppose "moral paralysis", means "not physical paralysis".

    (crossposted)
    Thanks!
     
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