How do you feel about vengeance?

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Scott
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How do you feel about vengeance?

Post by Scott » March 19th, 2008, 11:19 pm

[The following topic is featured as a leadup to the May philosophy book of the month discussion of Holding Fire.]

If you haven't already, check out this blog post I made: Vengeance, Payback, Revenge

What do you think? How do you dissuade people from vengeance? What arguments do you have against vengeance? What do you see as the flaws in the philosophy of an eye for an eye? How can we convince people not to make policy choices based on vengeance?

Like anybody, I may succumb to emotions in the heat of the moment (which is almost always regrettable), but I generally do not support vengeance and instead choose compassion. But I want to know what arguments you have against vengeance.
Last edited by Scott on March 22nd, 2008, 1:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by MarkE » March 20th, 2008, 12:16 am

i like to make it so nobody has the better of me. Vengeance and then some is the way i go. 1-up anybody that wrongs me purposefully. People can play off of the compassion and understanding of others.

It's like being a moral vigilante to me

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Re: How do you feel about vengeance?

Post by AnarchistUnited » March 20th, 2008, 7:49 am

Scott wrote:What do you think? How do you dissuade people from vengeance? What arguments do you have against vengeance? What do you see as the flaws in the philosophy of an eye for an eye? How can we convince people not to make policy choices based on vengeance?

Like anybody, I may succumb to emotions in the heat of the moment (which is almost always regrettable), but generally I generally do not support vengeance and instead choose compassion. But I want to know what arguments you have against vengeance.
I honestly think vengeance is a great thing if used correctly The only time I would truly use vengeance is out on the world's oppressors

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Post by anarchyisbliss » March 20th, 2008, 10:23 am

I think vengeance is detrimental to the health of the soul so I would prefer not to do it.
"If there is hope, it lies in the proles." - George Orwell, 1984

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Post by Daniel Owen » March 20th, 2008, 4:34 pm

I think vengeance is pretty healthy and normal. Tit for tat. Eye for an eye. Reciprocity keeps the world turning -- it's the real social contract. Mutual aid and vengeful justice are different sides of the same coin.
"What does not kill me, makes me stronger." Friedrich Nietzsche

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Post by Daniel Owen » March 20th, 2008, 4:35 pm

MarkE wrote:People can play off of the compassion and understanding of others.
I agree.
"What does not kill me, makes me stronger." Friedrich Nietzsche

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Post by Scott » March 20th, 2008, 8:44 pm

MarkE wrote:i like to make it so nobody has the better of me. Vengeance and then some is the way i go. 1-up anybody that wrongs me purposefully. People can play off of the compassion and understanding of others.

It's like being a moral vigilante to me
What does it mean for someone to have the better of you?

By all means, I support making a person repay damages they have caused to someone else. For example, if a vandal breaks your house window, I support making the vandal pay for the repairs. Additionally, I support defensive uses of force, such as forcibly stopping a rapist and keeping the rapist incarcerated (until, if ever, he can be rehabilitated). In those ways, I would not want to let a person get the better of me or anyone else.

However, why get vengeance? Why get a "1-up" on a person? What benefit do you get from causing damage to someone for the sake of causing damage to them?

How can someone "play off compassion" when we defend people from victimizers and make the victimizers repay the damages? How does not causing extra damage out of an desire for vengeance stop people from playing off compassion?
AnarchistUnited wrote:I honestly think vengeance is a great thing if used correctly The only time I would truly use vengeance is out on the world's oppressors
How is vengeance used correctly? What is so great about vengeance (when it is used correctly)?

Again, I support defending ourselves from oppressors. I also support making them repay us for any damages they caused to us. But why get vengeance for the sake of vengeance? What is the benefit of hurting them beyond what is necessary to defend ourselves and make them repay any damages?
Daniel Owen wrote:I think vengeance is pretty healthy and normal. Tit for tat. Eye for an eye. Reciprocity keeps the world turning -- it's the real social contract. Mutual aid and vengeful justice are different sides of the same coin.
Do you have any evidence that vengeance is healthy? (Does it matter that it is normal?) I am not an expert psychological studies, I have come to the opposite conclusion; I believe people benefit more from compassion and forgiveness (as long as they defend themselves and get repaid for any damages caused to them). How does vengeful reciprocity keep the world turning? Wouldn't the world still turn if people did not get vengeance for vengeance sake? Wouldn't the world keep turning if we only used force to defend ourselves and to get repaid for damages caused to us, but not to cause extra damage to the person as revenge?

I'm not talking about defensive uses of violence. I support that. I'm not talking about forced rectification (i.e. making a victimizer repay for the damages he or she caused, such as making a window-breaking vandal pay for the window repairs). I support that too. I'm talking about vengeance for its own sake (e.g. going and breaking the window-breaking vandal's window as revenge). Why do you all support it? Is it just that it makes you feel happy to cause vengeful harm to someone else?
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Post by MarkE » March 20th, 2008, 9:09 pm

i like to get the advantage over people for my own benefit.

No, there is no logic. You can't fight what i believe illogically. I don't like to lose. A tie is a loss. My benefit is purely psychological, and adds to my gigantic ego.

In high-school you have no idea how often i've seen a compassionate, nice, substitute teacher taken advantage of. The whole paper airplanes stereotypes, name calling, general rudeness. The teacher shrugs and says "they're just kids", losing their respect. A teacher who won't take crap from anyone has my respect.

The victims can get even, but like i said... my personal preference involves 1-upping anyone who wrongs me.

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Post by Daniel Owen » March 21st, 2008, 3:04 pm

Scott wrote:Do you have any evidence that vengeance is healthy? (Does it matter that it is normal?) I am not an expert psychological studies, I have come to the opposite conclusion; I believe people benefit more from compassion and forgiveness (as long as they defend themselves and get repaid for any damages caused to them).
I meant healthy in an individual and social sense, not in a medical/psychoanalytic sense. People are naturally violent and have to release agressive energy somehow -- bottling it up inside, as in modern society, leads to a whole range of severe, even crippling, psychological and social problems.
How does vengeful reciprocity keep the world turning? Wouldn't the world still turn if people did not get vengeance for vengeance sake? Wouldn't the world keep turning if we only used force to defend ourselves and to get repaid for damages caused to us, but not to cause extra damage to the person as revenge?
Mutual aid works because person 1 know that if they help person 2 they can expect (at some point) help from person 2, 3, 4, etc. Likewise, justice works only if the criminal knows he's going to get his action payed back to him with interest. Like a bank. ;)
"What does not kill me, makes me stronger." Friedrich Nietzsche

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Post by Scott » March 22nd, 2008, 1:33 pm

I made another blog post with my favorite quotes about vengeance and revenge.

MarkE,

You say that you like to get the advantage over people for your own benefit. Maybe that is your main goal, just as it is probably the rapist's goal to violently take advantage of his victims. As someone who has adopted such a selfishly violent outlook (no offense), how would you recommend people like myself dissuade others from violently getting the advantage over people? How do you think I could most convince people to adopt compassion instead of vengefulness?

Obviously, your outlook is not compatible with the same outlook in other people. In other words, you cannot both get the "1-up" on each other, and in the process people trying will destroy each other. So it is in the interest of those who want a more peaceful society to dissuade people from engaging in vengeful violence. (Again, forceful defense and rectification are different, and I support them as do many humanitarians.) I want to know how you believe people who want more peacefulness can most effectively dissuade people like you from adopting a violent "1-up" code of conduct and from engaging in vengeful violence.
MarkE wrote:In high-school you have no idea how often i've seen a compassionate, nice, substitute teacher taken advantage of. The whole paper airplanes stereotypes, name calling, general rudeness. The teacher shrugs and says "they're just kids", losing their respect. A teacher who won't take crap from anyone has my respect.
I don't know, but I assume you are making the mistake of conflating weakness and compassion. Not only are they clearly not the same, I would argue that anger, discompassion and hatred are symptoms of weakness, or a least the self-perception of weakness, namely from the frustration that ensues and the attempts to compensate for one's own perceived inferiority.


Daniel Owen,

You say that individuals and society would be better off if they did not bottle up their emotions. Generally speaking, I agree. However, people can find other outlets for their emotions than by violently attacking other people against those other people's will. For example, I think sports are a healthy way to get out the energy. Additionally, I believe creative expression (e.g. painting, writing poems or songs, etc.) is a healthy way for people to get out their emotions. Also, peaceful communication between people lets them get out there emotions without vengefully attacking each other.

I think forcefully attacking people is a very unhealhy way to get out one's emotions. In fact, I think it generally is counter-productive. Hurting others out of anger, resentment or hatred generally leads to more anger, resentment and hatred. It usually leads to a vicious cycle of revenge upon re-revenge upon re-re-revenge and so on. Worse yet, when a person indulges in vengeance, I believe it usually worsens their own negative emotions (e.g. anger, hate, resentment, etc.) making them even more violent. That's what I think Walter Weckler meant went he said, "Revenge has no more quenching effect on emotions than salt water has on thirst." I agree with him. For example, consider the man who catches his wife cheating; he goes home, cries and pains over it, and then goes back and kills her; Do you think he is going to feel better or do you think indulging in his vengeful desires will just make it worse? He might unsurprisingly shoot himself after he realizes how counter-productive shooting his wife was.

You say that "justice works only if the criminal knows he's going to get his action payed back to him with interest." Why? I don't think that is true. I think criminal justice works even more effectively when its sole purpose is to use force to defend people from criminal victimizers by forcefully stopping and restraining the victimizer as well as forcing the victimizer to repay the damages. After doing all of that, how does causing extra harm to the victimizer out of a desire for vengeance make the world turn? If anything, I think society is more disrupted when people go around attacking others, not out of defense or to rectify damage, but out of a desire for vengeance. In fact, I believe most acts of offensive interpersonal victimization (e.g. rape, murder, battery, vandalism, etc.) are done out of vengeance.

Remember, I support using defensive force (such as to forcefully stop a rapist and lock him up). Also remember, I support forced rectification (such as, when a vandal breaks someone else's window, making the vandal pay for the window repair). I'm talking about vengeance for vengeance's sake (such as breaking a window of the house of the vandal who had broke someone else's window). How can somebody not say that vengeance (for vengeance's sake) disrupts society and increases the presence of offensive interpersonal victimization (e.g. rape, murder, battery, vandalism, etc.)?

Thanks,
Scott
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Post by MarkE » March 22nd, 2008, 2:04 pm

Dear Scott,
Thanks for relating me to a rapist.
Love, Mark

PS. A rapists victim doesn't always do something to provoke the rapist to commit the rape. Yes, i am selfish and violent. Anger, discompassion, and hatred to me aren't signs of weakness - sometimes if you want things to change you need to rock the boat; some people won't learn without consequences. Of course there are always exceptions.

I can't stand people getting away with injustice because people "understand" where they come from or why they did it. Something wrong is something wrong. Period. Doing something wrong deserves consequences (and if the law can't intervene... why not?).

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Post by Scott » March 23rd, 2008, 10:56 am

MarkE wrote:Dear Scott,
Thanks for relating me to a rapist.
Love, Mark
:oops: I apologize if that offended you. My point is that it may be the desire of someone (such as yourself) to violently get the advantage of other people. However, I believe it is in the interest of most people in society to not only strongly discourage that, but also to outlaw it.
MarkE wrote:PS. A rapists victim doesn't always do something to provoke the rapist to commit the rape. Yes, i am selfish and violent. Anger, discompassion, and hatred to me aren't signs of weakness - sometimes if you want things to change you need to rock the boat; some people won't learn without consequences. Of course there are always exceptions.

I can't stand people getting away with injustice because people "understand" where they come from or why they did it. Something wrong is something wrong. Period. Doing something wrong deserves consequences (and if the law can't intervene... why not?).
I would much prefer a society in which people kept their morality to themselves, and where no person was allowed to violently attack other people because he or she believes the other people "deserve" it--which the attacking person would apparently do based on some personal belief in a certain moral code of what is sinful or bad and deserving of moral judgment and punishment . Generally speaking, I would call that theocracy, and I can't imagine many people support any specific brand of it.

We may lock victimizers up for the purpose of rehabilitation. I would support that. But I am not talking about "punishing" someone as a means to the defensive act of rehabilitation. (Whether or not harsh punishments are an effective form of rehabilitation are another topic.) In this thread, I am talking about vengeance for vengeance's sake.

Do you have any suggestions for those of us in society who wish to dissuade violently selfish people from attacking other people not for defense or for rectification but to inflict punishment for the sake of vengeance? Or is the only option to create a systematic way of using defensive force to stop these people? For those of us who want a society in which people do not violently attack each other, what other options do we have besides using defensive force to stop those who violently attack others (in this case, to get the advantage over their fellow human or to inflict some punishment that they faithfully believe the other person deserves)?

As for anger, discompassion, and hatred being signs of weakness or not, I have created another thread for that specific topic: Are anger, discompassion and hatred symptoms of weakness?

Thanks,
Scott
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Post by MarkE » March 23rd, 2008, 1:11 pm

that rapist comment didn't offend me, i sort of chuckled at it

the thing is i won't ever attack someone under any circumstances for no reason. It needs to be directly affecting me after they do something bad... to .me

People like me will never learn, scott. Defense is the best bet.

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Post by Pheasant » April 11th, 2008, 6:53 am

Vengeance: Harming someone in retaliation for something harmful that they have done.

An act of revenge does not balance the effects of a previous harm done. It is a new act of harming. It may make an individual feel that the score has been evened out but if vengeance were the accepted 'norm' and the accepted reaction to a perceived affront, then society would be in a constant state of warfare with itself. Not only would we have one individual harming the individual who is perceived to have committed the initial offense, but we would then have the relations of the opposing parties attacking each other in retaliation for the last revenge attack. An unending cycle of mindless violence and self created misery.

We should not forget that the law will punish the avenger just as it will punish the initiator of the harm done. It does not differentiate between violent quarreling parties. If it did it would in effect be sanctioning civil degeneration.

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Vengeance

Post by shadowyxgold » April 12th, 2008, 3:57 pm

I admit that I did not read every reply, and that I may be repeating something someone else already said, but I'll say it anyway.
Vengeance is not a "petty" emotion or desire. I severely disagree with that.

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