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Month of the Greats: What Constitutes Greatness (Discussion)


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What Constitutes Greatness?

 

 

 

Great men are like mountains; we do not appreciate their magnitude while we are still close to them —Joseph Chamberlain

 

It is with rivers as it is with people: the greatest are not always the most agreeable nor the best to live with —Henry Van Dyke

 

 

What is greatness?  Well let’s begin by understanding the word great.

 

 As defined great is:  Very large in size,  Larger in size than others of the same kind,  Large in quantity or number,  Extensive in time or distance,  Remarkable or outstanding in magnitude, degree, or extent, Of outstanding significance or importance, Chief or principal, Superior in quality or character; noble, Powerful; influential, Eminent; distinguished, Grand; aristocratic.

 

 

But what does it really mean to be great? Is greatness measured by what you have achieved in life or what you have done for others, or is it simply what you have meant to the world and life in general? Would a person who feeds a small community with his own farm be considered great? Or does one need to lead a great army to victory to be listed as one of the greats? Can a person who entertains us and makes us laugh be a great? Or is it the power one has gained over others that inherently makes them great?

 

 

Greatness means many things to many people, but what does it mean to you?

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i mean i see my uncle as a great man, one who sacrificed his childhood for his family, his adult-life for his family, never pursued his dreams because reality was in the way, does that make him great? Or did he have to do something generally acknowledged to be famous to be great?

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Winston Churchill. before the war, total loser. alcoholic, severely depressive, accomplished nothing much.

 

ww2 lands in his lap and... he rises to the challenge and becomes one if the greatest men in history.

 

still depressed and alcoholic but a magnificent, stirring leader, exactly the right man in the right place at the right time.

 

without that circumstance, that trigger, opportunity to become what he seems to have been born to be... would he have been great?

 

by anyone's standards?

 

and I'm thinking of a hundred truly great ppl with little in the way if integrity, honesty, honor or any quality I'd think of as good. yet their accomplishments... make them great.

 

no?

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greatnes in my defintin is doin soemthing taht is impresive enuogh for soem populatin to remembre you with awe or reverence for vry long tiem. The awe an revrence/respect is what is key to it, becuse in my cultuer we remembre anyone who diess for long tiem, as long as we exisst I suppose, but if that person ddint really do much in their lief for the family or comunity, then they may only be mentined now and then and ther isnt any atribution of greatnes to them, no god-liek portrayal for thm or regularly recuonting of their story etc. Doesnt haev to be a big populatin, and liek cloud menationed, greatness is subjctive - lot of our great ones or heros, baerly anyone else knows about, whiel figuers who mght be considred "great" to othre cultures, no mattr how big that cultuer is, we dont give two hoots abuot becuse they didnt do anythin that impressed or affectd us.

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I think that if a person is able to achieve such great accomplishments they already have certain qualities in them. Those qualities don't have to be visible at first glance, but that doesn't mean that they aren't there or can't grow through the things one experiences in his life. I think that people who achieve greatness are generally those that never give up, and always fight for what they believe in. Everyone will stumble and fall countless times in their lives, but being able to get up, learn from those experiences and keep going on is more important. One can argue if greatness can only be seen as a positive thing, because not everyone might share your viewpoint on what is best for everyone else if we look at greatness as in grand achievements.

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Oscar Schindler. before the war, scoundrel, playboy, smarmy con man. profiteer.

 

during he war... great. truly great.

 

after the war... gave up. supported by those he saved. never achieved another great thing.

 

I think there was... often is... some kind of ... concordance? dunno... of events, circumstances, times, etc., that draws something forth from people who might otherwise live out their lives in anonymity or even ignominity.

 

I don't mean there aren't people who are great from cradle to grave but I can't think of very many offhand.

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Yeah you can have a "great" period and still be remembered overall as a great person.

 

For me I think the quality needed to defined greatness is scale. Whatever ever deed you completed needs to be on a grand scale.

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I think at it's core, greatness revolves around giving of yourself or something you value for some purpose, not of yourself.

 

It may be a leader. A villain. A family member. But the greatness comes from the act of sacrifice, not necessarily the means, or even the ends.

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I think at it's core, greatness revolves around giving of yourself or something you value for some purpose, not of yourself.

 

It may be a leader. A villain. A family member. But the greatness comes from the act of sacrifice, not necessarily the means, or even the ends.

 

Altruism is great?

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Mr Ollivander has something to say on this:

I think it is clear that we can expect great things from you [Mr Potter]. After all, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named [Generic bad guy, for those that didn't know/guess] did great things. Terrible! Yes. But great.

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Yes Sen ... I think altruism is the hallmark of greatness ... Maybe not always the same connotation we usually have for altruism ...but in a post-modern definition.

 

And thanks Starrick! Perfect quote!

 

Also, Starrick ...I just realized your Avi is Chewie holding up the "rock on" symbol ... I thought it was a snail for the longest time until I actually read what it said. LOL

 

Thats cool. :)

Edited by AesSedaiGuy
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does greatness require goodness then?

 

as noted, evil deeds and evil doers can be great, depending on how we're defining great.

 

a completely altruistic life can become great, I do believe greatness requires some external acknowledgment of accomplishment... or it can be completely anonymous and hermitic.

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Oscar Schindler. before the war, scoundrel, playboy, smarmy con man. profiteer.

during he war... great. truly great.

after the war... gave up. supported by those he saved. never achieved another great thing.

I think there was... often is... some kind of ... concordance? dunno... of events, circumstances, times, etc., that draws something forth from people who might otherwise live out their lives in anonymity or even ignominity.

I don't mean there aren't people who are great from cradle to grave but I can't think of very many offhand.

Well said Cindy, I agree with this. :)

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does greatness require goodness then?

as noted, evil deeds and evil doers can be great, depending on how we're defining great.

a completely altruistic life can become great, I do believe greatness requires some external acknowledgment of accomplishment... or it can be completely anonymous and hermitic.

 

No, that was why I said a post-modern definition ... And maybe "altruism" has too much oof a positive connotation to be a good word here ...An evil person or villain (Lord Voldemort in Starr's example) can be great when they do things to "sacrifice" themselves to something bigger than themselves. In the pursuit of power and immortality, Tom Riddle did great things and sacrificed his identity and soul to achieve greatness.

 

The same logic can be applied to a family member who to show his love or support sacrifices his own dreams or desires to provide opportunities for his family or loved ones ...to the recipient, he is great as well.

 

I think the external acknowledgement is the effect or "consequence" of the sacrificial act and it is the act that makes the accomplishment great.

:happy:

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Mr Ollivander has something to say on this:

I think it is clear that we can expect great things from you [Mr Potter]. After all, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named [Generic bad guy, for those that didn't know/guess] did great things. Terrible! Yes. But great.

^ this is wonderful as an example!!! Love it =)

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does greatness require goodness then?

as noted, evil deeds and evil doers can be great, depending on how we're defining great.

a completely altruistic life can become great, I do believe greatness requires some external acknowledgment of accomplishment... or it can be completely anonymous and hermitic.

 

No, that was why I said a post-modern definition ... And maybe "altruism" has too much oof a positive connotation to be a good word here ...An evil person or villain (Lord Voldemort in Starr's example) can be great when they do things to "sacrifice" themselves to something bigger than themselves. In the pursuit of power and immortality, Tom Riddle did great things and sacrificed his identity and soul to achieve greatness.

 

The same logic can be applied to a family member who to show his love or support sacrifices his own dreams or desires to provide opportunities for his family or loved ones ...to the recipient, he is great as well.

 

I think the external acknowledgement is the effect or "consequence" of the sacrificial act and it is the act that makes the accomplishment great.

:happy:

 

such peple aer sacrificin seomthing of thmselves but usualy becuse they recognis they aer goin to get soething bettre or greater in return, such as longlastin fame or whatver else. Many of my culteurs heroes seem to act selflessly in certain cases becues its the honourble thing to do, but thy are/were well awre the act enhnced their honour (and potentil fame, such as Cúchulainn who prclimed he wuold defintly live only oen day on the earth if it meant taht his naem wuold live forever), so its a vry selfish motivation. It becoems very obvius when such heros, in countless instnces, turn or almos turn aginst the people they wer suposed to be defnding becuse they belive their honour is being jeopardised somehow by said people and so soemthing must be doen by those peple to appease the hero or else, in soem instnces, the hero compltely ruins them somehow to repair thire honour. 

 

there is no duobt in my mind abuot usualy havin to invest alot of yuorself, perhps a painful lot, to achiev lasting fame,and the reslt of this investment usuly has to affect an aprrecible amuont of othres, whether benfiting or harm, to be remembred, to have "greatness," Im just saying taht I wuold not call it altruism, whichs defition seems pure unselfishnss, becuse all actions performd by oneself aer motivatd by the self, from an obvius physics standpoint and frim the fact taht psychologiclly, an individul usuly gets some mental reward frim doing the sacrificil act, whther the martyr who taeks comfort in theirr religon or the individul who gievs up a lot of thmselves to help manyy others, who is fulfiled to some extent by the sense thy have done theyre moral duty (or thy aer well aware waht they are doin will also bring them fame or some othre gain).

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does greatness require goodness then?

as noted, evil deeds and evil doers can be great, depending on how we're defining great.

a completely altruistic life can become great, I do believe greatness requires some external acknowledgment of accomplishment... or it can be completely anonymous and hermitic.

 

No, that was why I said a post-modern definition ... And maybe "altruism" has too much oof a positive connotation to be a good word here ...An evil person or villain (Lord Voldemort in Starr's example) can be great when they do things to "sacrifice" themselves to something bigger than themselves. In the pursuit of power and immortality, Tom Riddle did great things and sacrificed his identity and soul to achieve greatness.

The same logic can be applied to a family member who to show his love or support sacrifices his own dreams or desires to provide opportunities for his family or loved ones ...to the recipient, he is great as well.

I think the external acknowledgement is the effect or "consequence" of the sacrificial act and it is the act that makes the accomplishment great. :happy:

such peple aer sacrificin seomthing of thmselves but usualy becuse they recognis they aer goin to get soething bettre or greater in return, such as longlastin fame or whatver else. Many of my culteurs heroes seem to act selflessly in certain cases becues its the honourble thing to do, but thy are/were well awre the act enhnced their honour (and potentil fame, such as Cúchulainn who prclimed he wuold defintly live only oen day on the earth if it meant taht his naem wuold live forever), so its a vry selfish motivation. It becoems very obvius when such heros, in countless instnces, turn or almos turn aginst the people they wer suposed to be defnding becuse they belive their honour is being jeopardised somehow by said people and so soemthing must be doen by those peple to appease the hero or else, in soem instnces, the hero compltely ruins them somehow to repair thire honour. 

 

there is no duobt in my mind abuot usualy havin to invest alot of yuorself, perhps a painful lot, to achiev lasting fame,and the reslt of this investment usuly has to affect an aprrecible amuont of othres, whether benfiting or harm, to be remembred, to have "greatness," Im just saying taht I wuold not call it altruism, whichs defition seems pure unselfishnss, becuse all actions performd by oneself aer motivatd by the self, from an obvius physics standpoint and frim the fact taht psychologiclly, an individul usuly gets some mental reward frim doing the sacrificil act, whther the martyr who taeks comfort in theirr religon or the individul who gievs up a lot of thmselves to help manyy others, who is fulfiled to some extent by the sense thy have done theyre moral duty (or thy aer well aware waht they are doin will also bring them fame or some othre gain).

Thanks Talt, well said ... That was what I meant RE: altruism and post-modern definition ...it is it the best word to use because, as you said, it denotes selflessness, when sometimes the sacrifice is for selfishness ...perhaps investing and sacrificing for something or some value outside of yourself or outside of self-preservation, or if we can introduce a new word ... "Selfish altruism".

 

:)

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Yes Sen ... I think altruism is the hallmark of greatness ... Maybe not always the same connotation we usually have for altruism ...but in a post-modern definition.

 

And thanks Starrick! Perfect quote!

 

Also, Starrick ...I just realized your Avi is Chewie holding up the "rock on" symbol ... I thought it was a snail for the longest time until I actually read what it said. LOL

 

Thats cool. :)

Thanks ASG, I found it while browsing, and "Wookiee Love Machine" made me laugh out loud. I just coloured it in!

*I'll stop spamming now*

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So we have discussed "greatness" in the acts of others, but what about Greatness of the mind? This week I would like to discuss those who possessed a great mind that did or did not lead to great things and if not, why?

 

I'll go first in saying one great mind that was never given his due was one of my favorites, Nikola Tesla.

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