Generally, when there is a mass murder, or an atrocity, most people immediately think that the perpetrator must be insane, or at least mentally ill.
As I read this article this morning, http://www.twincities.com/ci_21338455/r ... cities.com
I wondered what Hoffer had to say about formal mental illness, or mentally ill people in mass movements. Since I can perform a search in the book that I’m reading on my Kindle, I searched for any reference to the “mentally ill” and for persons with “mental illness”. No results appeared. I find this omission to be quite strange.
I have not completed my reading. However, I am really enjoying all of my discussions about the book with others in this forum.
-- Updated Sat Aug 25, 2012 9:27 pm to add the following --
Richard Dawkins is a fanatical atheist. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Dawkins
I have often wondered why the atheist spends any time on religion. After all, he has made up his mind. He is firm in his unbelief. In my reading of The True Believer, I noted this possible explanation for his obsession.
I recall reading that Jacques Maritain, The Catholic Thomist philosopher, said that the militant atheist suffered from a “metaphysical anxiety.” http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/maritain/
I think that Hoffer and Maritain are saying the same thing.
“Whence comes the impulse to proselytize? Intensity of conviction is not the main factor which impels a movement to spread its faith to the four corners of the earth: “religions of great intensity often confine themselves to contemning, destroying, or at best pitying what is not themselves.”40 Nor is the impulse to proselytize an expression of an overabundance of power which as Bacon has it “is like a great flood, that will be sure to overflow.”41 The missionary zeal seems rather an expression of some deep misgiving, some pressing feeling of insufficiency at the center. Proselytizing is more a passionate search for something not yet found than a desire to bestow upon the world something we already have. It is a search for a final and irrefutable demonstration that our absolute truth is indeed the one and only truth. The proselytizing fanatic strengthens his own faith by converting others. The creed whose legitimacy is most easily challenged is likely to develop the strongest proselytizing impulse.” Hoffer, Eric (2011-05-10). The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (Perennial Classics) (p. 110). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
-- Updated Wed Aug 29, 2012 7:43 pm to add the following --
I finished rereading The True Believer. Here is the last paragraph in the book:
"J. B. S. Haldane counts fanaticism among the only four really important inventions made between 3000 B.C. and 1400 A.D.20 It was a Judaic-Christian invention. And it is strange to think that in receiving this malady of the soul the world also received a miraculous instrument for raising societies and nations from the dead—an instrument of resurrection." Hoffer, Eric (2011-05-10). The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (Perennial Classics) (p. 168). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
------------------------------- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fanaticism http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JBS_Haldane
Disagreeing with Haldane's opinion on the nature of the cause of fanaticism, I remembered that Jacques Maritain had written on fanaticism. And I was able to find his relevant quote:
"It is nonsense to regard fanaticism as a fruit of religion. Fanaticism is a natural tendency rooted in our basic egotism and will to power. It seizes upon any noble feeling to live on it." Jacques Maritain, "Truth and Human Fellowship", p. 21http://psychology.wikia.com/wiki/Fanaticism http://psychology.wikia.com/wiki/EmotionIn your opinion, what is the fundamental cause of fanaticism?