Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
cwconrad wrote:Do you have no responsibility after you've been given a command?
That depends on the context. If someone wishes you were dead and says to you, perhaps rhetorically, "die", it's your responsibility to go and hang yourself. Which you don't do, of course. But if he shoots at you with a gun and says "die", you have no responsibility. You only can wait helpless.
You used "get healed" as an example. In English it can implicitly mean "get healed by someone" and it requires going to a doctor to be healed by him. But how about "get well"? Does it imply, as a grammatical construction, that the target is responsible for something or that he should something? No. Of course he is responsible for doing the right things, but it's not implied in the phrase. It's a wish, "I wish you were well". When Jesus said "get healed" he didn't mean the sick person should do something. His words had supernatural power, they did the healing without the target's action. Did light have some kind of responsibility to become existing when God said "let there be light"? Responsibility or lack of it is in the context, not in the passive imperative. Usually it requires some action or responsibility, but not always.
Okay, I think what you say about "Get well" makes sense -- but the implication is that it's not a real imperative but a rhetorical device. Imperatives surely can be used rhetorically; it's said that Jefferson Davis closed his brief history of the Confederacy with the Latin motto Esto perpetua
"Let it be everlasting". I haven't checked the reference, but I assume that he was referring to the Union, the United States of America, rather than to the defunct Confederate States of America. In either case, that would be a rhetorical usage of the imperative.
For my part, I cannot imagine an imperative that is really meant as a command stated to a person or persons that doesn't involve some response on the part of the addressee. Of course, as you say, if a guy shoots you and tells you to die, you don't respond voluntarily but rather spontaneously. But in that case, I think we'd have to say that the imperative is more rhetorical than it is a real command. A real command, it seems to me, is a challenge that demands a response, not a stand-still goofy look on the face of the addressee, who can only say, "Who? Me?"
The way you've put that reminds me of the story of the guy who regularly sought guidance by random selection of a Biblical verse and came upon this one: "And Judas went out and hanged himself." Thinking that this couldn't be meant for him, he tried again; this time his finger lit on: "Go and do thou likewise." With a little anxiety he tried it a third time, only to find, "What thou doest, do quickly!" (I wasn't told what happened thereafter -- perhaps some crisis of faith ...)