Today’s Dilbert:

Wally is conflating passion ‘enthusiasm, zeal’ (as in “passion is necessary for success”) and passion ‘love or desire’ — probably with malice aforethought.

I’ve been on the passion beat at least twice. First, responding to this quote:

This does not mean that pursuing a mission is always pleasurable: we do not agree with the pop psychology view that equates meaningful work with fun.  Indeed, the etymological root of ‘passion’ is passe – or ‘to suffer.’  We are aware that pursuing a noble mission is often painful.

I summarized the history of passion and historically related words (passive and patient in particular), concluding:

The result of all this semantic radiation, generalization, and specialization is that modern English passion has a variety of senses — among them, love or desire, enthusiasm or zeal, and anger or rage (all attested from the 16th century on) — that are not directly connected to one another and have nothing in particular to do with suffering.  It might be that love hurts, and that “pursuing a noble mission is often painful”, but insofar as these claims are true, they’re observations about the human condition, not about the meanings or histories of words.

And then in connection with a Zippy strip with three medical patients in it, I focused on patient and its etymology.

(Back to the Dilbert strip: Wally usually has a mug of coffee in one hand, but in this strip he’s double-mugging to juice up his passion. And dating is an intriguing euphemism.)


2 Responses to “Passions”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    *Everything* Wally says or does is with malice aforethought.

  2. arnold zwicky Says:

    From Christopher Walker on Facebook:

    one of my bosses seemed quite crestfallen when I suggested that insubstantial reward systems are actually demotivating.

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