Logic’s Last Stand

August 2, 2008

Semantics of Sorry

Filed under: Life, Philosophy — Tags: , — Zurahn @ 12:59 am

What’s more fundamental to parental lessons as saying you’re sorry? We’ve all made mistakes that have affected others, and thusly apologies are to follow…but have we thought this through?

What is the purpose of this sentiment? It’s expressing regret, essentially, but it doesn’t really say anything. Regret? That means nothing to the person who was on the other end of it, and doesn’t explain why in the least. It’s a shortcut on something that should not have a shortcut.

If you’re going to apologize, it’s not a matter of words, it’s a matter of expression and understanding. How about, “What I did was a mistake for these reasons: x, y, and z and understand what harm has become of you. What can I do to undo that harm?”

How about that? Isn’t that more useful and more helpful to the person you’ve harmed? But no, we need a shortcut; we need to circumvent all accountability.

And it’s lost all meaning anyway. People say sorry for things that have no basis or something that they obviously don’t regret. I can recall being a child and not understanding the whole point of saying “sorry” other than embarrassment, but adults don’t understand it, either, because there’s nothing to understand–it means nothing. It is nothing, give it up and do it right.



  1. Great topic! And of course parents (and others) don’t understand it–they don’t want to. It’s just what has been ingrained in us and our parents and their parents and their parents parents, etc. since birth. Most people don’t question that, it’s just the easy way out, on the surface anyway.

    Comment by agentsunshine — August 2, 2008 @ 1:36 am

  2. Nothing worse than a parent saying “Tell them you’re sorry”

    Least sincere expression ever.

    Just do what I do now…. pin the blame on the person who actually caused the problem and make yourself look like the good guy. At least it works at my job, because I do things by the book and I always have enough justification to say that I am right and someone else is screwing it up.

    Doesn’t work for “wrong” things done intentionally though. If a kid leaves a bag of chips out at his desk during lunch and walks away and someone else eats it, is the kid that ate it sorry? No…. it’s just plain survival instinct (and in my opinion kids are still largely driven by two main things before society ingrains them… instinct, and curiosity.) If you are hungry, food is sitting there, you eat it. You don’t care whose food it was, they left it there….. survival of the fittest.

    Comment by Yarcofin — August 2, 2008 @ 1:10 pm

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