You Have a Donkey, So Have I

I’ve recently been thinking about JL Austin’s donkey. It’s a philosophical scenario that reveals the distinction between an action done by mistake and one done by accident. All too often, we’re careless in our speech. It’s easy to conflate mistakes and accidents especially in those anxious and fearful moments when responsibility is falling upon you, and you need to say something to avoid the responsibility or at the very least to mitigate the blame associated with that responsibility. When our emotional walls rise in a panic, we tend to opt for the kitchen sink approach. Our torrent of words subordinate meaning to immediate psychic relief, and we lose control of language and surrender the only real possible path to peace—communication. The link between responsibility and communication has kept me meditating on the useful distinction between mistakes and accidents.