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Parents of a doctor have been known to declare that they sacrificed a lot to put their child through school to become a doctor. They cite sacrifices such as not taking vacations, not buying alcohol, not buying new cars, and so on. Therefore, if sacrifice means what it means, the exchange of a greater value for a lesser value, does it imply that the child's medical degree is of lesser value than the vacations, alcohol, and cars?

closed as off-topic by Keelan, James Kingsbery, Five σ, virmaior, Swami Vishwananda Apr 8 '15 at 5:04

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    "Sacrifice" means, in one sense, the opposite: to exchange something of lesser value for something greater. (dictionary.reference.com/browse/sacrifice). Not sure where brainwashing comes in. – James Kingsbery Apr 7 '15 at 17:22
  • sacrifice being the exchange of greater value for lesser value cannot be assumed a priori. It can be greater, or lesser, or equal. – Swami Vishwananda Apr 8 '15 at 5:04
  • @Swami Vishwananda If an exchange of equal or unequal values takes place, why is it called a sacrifice? When exactly does "sacrifice" emerge as a word with its own distinct meaning, apart form words like trade, commerce, credit and debit? Here's the reality: sacrifice is generally understood and used to mean to give up some value - and yet, therein lies the rub - give up some value in "exchange" for another value. Hence, sacrifice is a non-word, a false pretense of nobility, or some other such vague non-real notion. – Guessed Apr 8 '15 at 12:26
  • @guessed If you and I are soldiers and I jump on a grenade to save your life, do you see that as no sacrifice, or equal, greater, or lesser sacrifice? There is no false pretense jumping on a grenade. – Swami Vishwananda Apr 8 '15 at 13:57
  • It is not a sacrifice since both of us are within the same proximity of the grenade's lethal range. Both of us would have died if neither of us jumped on it, but now only one has died. That is a net gain. On the other hand, if I grab you and use you as a shield against the blast, I am a murderer. – Guessed Apr 8 '15 at 14:16
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I would choose to rephrase the meaning of sacrifice to be "the exchange of a perceived greater good for a perceived lesser good." Thus the idea of such an example might be expounded upon from the parent's point of view as, "We came across many situations where we perceived something like a vacation or car as a greater good than the child's education appeared at the day. However, we had reason to believe that our perceptions were in err, and in fact the money was better spent on the child's education. However, we as parents, recognize that there are probabilities involved. Our child might not use that degree effectively. However, we believe the Return on Investment (ROI) is good enough that we will sacrifice our guaranteed vacations and cars for a probability of improving our child's life in the future."

  • Whether perceived or actually verified, as long as the net outcome is an actual or perceived loss, a loss it remains. It certainly paints sacrifice in the light of stupidity, waste, and without any form of redemption - unless it pays a debt, and of course, then that is not a sacrifice, but the rightful repayment of what did not originally belong to the individual in debt in the first place. – Guessed Apr 8 '15 at 14:08
  • "As long as the net outcome is a ... loss, a loss remains." applies future knowledge to decisions made in the past. Consider, if we play a game where you give me $10 and I flip a coin. Heads I pay you $30, tails I keep your $10. It comes up tails, so the net outcome is a loss. Do you feel that game of chance qualifies as "stupidity, waste, and without any form of redemption?" By the logic described, the answer is "yes, because I lost $10." I think the real answer is more nuanced than that (and most likely leads to you asking for "best 2 out of 3" in many circumstances). – Cort Ammon Apr 8 '15 at 14:40
  • How does wagering on a game of chance, when the next event is uncertain, and at best only many more such events as a group are statistically understood, relate to sacrifice? – Guessed Apr 8 '15 at 14:54
  • How does it not relate to when the next event [in a child's life] in uncertain, and at best only statistical studies are available to determine odds over all children? In both cases, you are choosing two options, with different outcomes. Keeping your $10 is akin to going on vacation, Wagering it is akin to "investing" it in your child. – Cort Ammon Apr 8 '15 at 15:07
  • Is the vacation less uncertain? What if it rains? What if you contract dysentery? Sacrifice now pivots around the degree of certainty? Events are full of dependencies and correlations, so let's take an all-things-equal uncertainties within each endeavor, some more uncertain, some less. Then, let's also add that some people are less averse to uncertainty, facing risks and failures repeatedly until they succeed, where others abandon some pursuit after less failures. The risk-reward ratio varies from circumstance to circumstance, and people have varying mettle. So what. – Guessed Apr 8 '15 at 15:18
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Passive-aggression is a hypocritical brainwashing strategy.

In this case you are talking about a passive-aggressive claim against a debt that can never be repaid, as an attempt to garner compliance from the child, or praise from others that they feel they deserve and are not getting.

This has nothing to do with sacrifice. A genuine sacrifice does not result in a debt. If you do something and will try to collect on the debt later, that is investment, not a sacrifice.

Sacrifice, etymologically means 'making holy' usually returning something to a state of holiness. Its most basic form (symbolized in holocausts of atonment or in Salic weregelt) may be the recognition and repayment of a debt, or its release (forgiveness in Germanic laws -- for-given-ness, the state of having had enough given for it). To the extent that debts, when mishandled, become lies that put one in a state of sin, debt is a model for sin (Forgive us our Debts...). But a real sacrifice never creates a debt. It can only resolve one.

  • Etymological or actual definitions, as offered by various dictionaries, overtly or implicitly frame sacrifice as characterized by quid pro quo. Sacrifice a lamb, receive God's good graces. In chess, sacrifice a piece to gain a tactical, tempo, or material edge. Why not then call it, sacrifice, for what it is: an investment, or better still, an effort, whose outcome does not need to be guaranteed, but is intended to net benefit. Let it be known that sacrifice is intended for net gain, not net loss. – Guessed Apr 7 '15 at 18:32
  • @Guessed -- But do any of them mention the future? A sacrifice may be a trade, perhaps unequal, but it results in no debt. You sacrifice the piece, but the opposing player does not owe you something in return. You cannot compel God's good graces, and traditional sacrifice paid a debt and did not create a new one. Sacrifice is intended to set things right, not create future opportunities. Accruing obligations and putting things out of balance is the exact opposite of that. That creates a new opportunity for failure instead of eliminating one. – jobermark Apr 7 '15 at 20:01
  • "Let it be known" that sacrifice is intended for mutual net gain, and thus balance and resolution. – jobermark Apr 7 '15 at 20:02
  • Then why call mutual net gain sacrifice? Why not call it exchange, invoking economic rules of debits and credits. How is paying a debt an act of sacrifice? If I give you $100, you are indebted to me $100. You are not sacrificing anything when you pay me back $100. – Guessed Apr 8 '15 at 0:32
  • Why have shades of meaning on any word? Why not just go all NewSpeak and throw 90% of them out? We just don't. Why not pay attention to what I actually said? Paying a debt is not generally a sacrifice, but sacrifice, traditionally can be paying a debt. The inclusion is one way, and only involves special cases, where you are giving something you would rather keep just to have forgiveness or to feel like you are doing the right thing. – jobermark Apr 8 '15 at 13:51

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