The letter versus spirit of the law


One of the most powerful concepts explained to me growing up was the difference between the letter of the law, and the spirit of the law. I can point to that one evening having a chat with my mum after an interesting Law and Order episode as being one of those watershed moments that had a huge impact on me.

I’m realising a lot of the helpful but not helpful advice of which the Internet is awash is just a variation on this theme. Telling someone they shouldn’t do X, or asking them why they’re not doing Y, could be technically correct, but clearly not in the spirit of the person’s question. And if it’s not the latter, what’s the point of the precise, useless comment?

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person in bios. Hi!

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