"The conceptual network to which the notion of availability belongs is very far reaching. Through its opposite, unavailability, it approaches the dialectic of being and having. Availability is the key that opens self-constancy to the dialogic structure established by the Golden Rule. The latter, as a rule of reciprocity posited in an initially dissymmetric situation, establishes the other in the position of someone to whom an obligation is owed, someone who is counting on me and making self-constancy a response to this expectation. To a large extent, it is not to disappoint or betray this expectation that I make maintaining my first intention the theme of a redoubled intention: the intention not to change my intention. In the forms of promising sanctioned by law—oaths, contracts, and so on—the expectation of others who count on me becomes, for its part, a right to require something of me. We have then entered the field of legal norms, in which the relation between the norm and solicitude is, as it were, obliterated, erased. One must move back from these forms of promises sanctioned by the courts to those where the tie between the normative moment and the ethical intention is still perceptible: 'From you,' says the other, 'I expect that you will keep your word'; to you, I reply: 'You can count on me.' This counting on connects self-constancy, in its moral tenor, to the principle of reciprocity founded in solicitude. The principle of being faithful to one's word as it is given is thus no more than the application of the rule of reciprocity to the class of actions in which language itself is involved as the institution governing all the forms of community. Not keeping one’s promise is betraying both the other’s expectation and the institution that mediates the mutual trust of speaking subjects" (Ricoeur 1994:268).
1994 Oneself as Another. Kathleen Blamey, trans. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.
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