Puritan

< Previous | Next >

Tashlima

Senior Member
Hindi
Does Puritan always has a negative connotation?
I disapprove of casual sex. So, can I say, i am a Puritan, in a positive sense?
 
  • Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    "Puritan" can also have a neutral connotation, as in when one discusses the Puritans who left England on the ship Mayflower for North America in 1620. That is why the correct use of capital letters is important. A Puritan, with a capital letter, is a member of the religious group that those people belonged to. A person who has a strict moral code (and probably disapproves of casual sex) is a puritan, with an initial lower-case letter.
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    If that's the only aspect of puritanism you care about in a specific discussion - that is, you aren't discussing drinking, gambling, using drugs, or anything else - how about "I don't believe in casual sex"?
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    It's not a word a person would normally use about themself because it does have negative associations.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I really wouldn't use "puritan" with or without a capital letter outside of a rather specific Protestant Christian context. The term does not mean "pure" or believing in purity, but belief in a specific Christian doctrine. Certainly puritanism had a relatively strict moral code and had elements in common with asceticism, but primarily was a movement opposed to Catholic influences in the supposedly Protestant Church of England and was essentially a type of Calvinism. I would associate any use of the term today with essentially Calvinistic beliefs which, depending where in the world you are, may be the mainstream Christian doctrine (it is in Scotland, for instance).

    Although few people have any particular knowledge of Christian doctrine, I think the association I have described holds good nonetheless. I expect many people might think of Sergeant Howie in The Wicker Man (1973) as something of a puritan; he is a Scottish Presbyterian (a Calvinist denomination). I cannot imagine anyone calling Mahatma Gandhi a puritan, though I am sure he had just as strict a moral code.
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    It's still Christian, though, don't you think? You wouldn't describe Gandhi or Pythagoras as puritanical, would you?
    It doesn't make me think of the religious aspect as much as 'puritan' does so yes, I could describe Ghandi as puritanical, as a question of attitude. And not just me either::)


    The Telegraph:
    Although some of Gandhi’s unconventional ideas were rooted in ancient Hindu philosophy, he was more tellingly a figure of the late Victorian age, both in his puritanism and in his kooky theories about health, diet and communal living.

    The Hindu Times:
    Noted musicologist and historian Mark Lindley, who has written many articles about Mahatma Gandhi’s life, his writings and some of his associates, feels that critics of the Father of the Nation isolate his writings and see it in a different context.

    “Even about his ‘experiments’ like being with young women, he was doing them during his old age because he thought he was impure! It was to purify himself. Gandhiji’s actions were a result of him being extremely puritanical.” he observed.

    The BBC:
    A close associate and admirer of Gandhi later wrote to a friend that from a study of the leader's writings, he found that he "represented a hard, puritanical form of self-discipline, something which we usually associate with medieval Christian ascetics or Jain recluses".
     

    Cenzontle

    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    I think "puritan" and "puritanical" have a negative connotation, or at least indicate disagreement,
    in that they imply a moral code that is stricter than that of the speaker.
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    It's still Christian, though, don't yat ou think? You wouldn't describe Gandhi or Pythagoras as puritanical, would you?
    I absolutely would describe them as (lower-case) puritanical, though they were definitely not (upper-case) Puritans. Many names of religions or religious sects began as ordinary English words and can still be used that way (perhaps in a slightly different form) if the first letter is not capitalized. One can be methodical without being a Methodist, have catholic tastes without being Catholic, be reformed without being either in the Dutch Reformed Church or a Reform Jew, be conservative without being a Conservative Jew, and so on. That's why proper capitalization is important in situations like this - a difficult thing to learn for people whose native language does not make a similar distinction between two forms of the same letter.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    "I'm kind of traditional."
    I'd suggest "I'm old-fashioned when it comes to casual sex", which is rather similar.

    "Puritanism" can be seen in a positive light, in opposition to "permissiveness" - but it's also associated with self-righteousness and bigotry.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top