The March Philosophy Book of the Month is Final Notice by Van Fleisher. Discuss Final Notice now.
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The desire for vengeance perfectly natural. It is probably hardwired into us, and, quite possibly, nature's deterrant for human-on-human evil.
But is it ultimately rational? That is, does acting upon this natual desire make us better people? i do not believe so.
First, it seems like an ineffective response to trauma. It can be a distraction from properly grieving and making peace with whatever one wants refenge for in the first place. The pursuit of vengeance requires that we maintain ourselves in a nadir of conscious experience, blinding us to the possibiiity that there might be better ways out of that emotional hole. Satisfaction, so to speak, is not all that satisfying in the end UNLESS we are the same kind of people against whom we want vengeance in the first place - people who can take pleasure in causing suffering.
Which is why, secondly, as a deterrant force, its rather primitive. It can lead to never-ending cycles of violence - Hatfield and McCoy situations; gang wars. Societies structured around rules of vengeance would include mafias. Getting someone back is rarely didactic. It usually just makes them want to get back at you. Considering this broad picture, does it matter that we feel WE are in the right when "getting back" at someone who drew first blood? Is "He started it," really good reason to keep it going? Color me skeptical.
Finally, I believe we would all be better off if we could empathize with those who have done us wrong. Understand their motivations. See it from their perspective. I don't mean to suggest that we should put their needs before our own, or justify their behavior, or even just let it go without acting. But if we can grieve properly, and make our peace with the fact that something wrong has happened to us that we can not go back in time to change, try to understand what was genuinely going on in the minds of our wrongdoers, and determine the best way to make those wrongdoers themselves better people in the future (which very well may include some king of NON-RETRIBUTIVE punishment), we would ALL be better off in the long run.
So, I'm with Scott. Compassion should trump the (understandable and natural) desire for vengeance.
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In a world without laws vengeance would eventually wipe out humankind. Once vengeance takes place there will be another person offended by the vengeance and will seek vengeance, and so on. It is against the law to seek vengeance but there are exceptions to the rule. Because vengeance is against the law it is not very smart to seek it. However, if any of my family were murdered and I knew who did it, I cannot say I would not seek personal revenge, but I hope I would obey the law and let the system punish the criminal.
Vengeance per se, goes from mild to horrific, so I think Scott should have qualified the range of vengeance he is discussing.
The eyes can only see what the mind has, is, or will be prepared to comprehend.
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But of course there are people who overreact - who exaggerate the wrong done them and seek terrible vengeance. Road rage is an example. And sometimes violent people use minor slights as an excuse for hurting others.
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Okay, I would like to express my some ideas why I consider eye for an eye as wrong. But I would like to ask few questions to OP, if he cares, before I would start expressing my ideas.
I would like to ask OP, if I accuse OP of being protective to criminals and probably want to give more freedom to commit crime to criminals, and is being cold towards innocents. Then how would he explain he is not careless towards victims and only cares for criminals who committed crime against innocent?
Because it seems that OP is against Vengeance, which is actually a criminal activity against criminal, I would like to know why he is against crime against criminals, as a probably retaliation? What he thinks about crime against innocent people, in first place, and not in second place like a vengeance?
I would like to know, why OP is against vengeance and does not seems to be against crime and of one who commits crime in first place? What is his opinion about crime that occurs in first place, and what he does about it? Why he is only seems to be against only those who do crime against criminals i.e. Vengeance?
I would also like to know what is OP’s opinion about getting 10 times of cost if Vandal breaks somebody’s house window?
OP seems to be using too many unrealistic examples to clear his point. For example: OP said he supports defensive use of force (post#7), such as forcibly stopping a rapist. I don’t understand who will stop the rapist. Does he expect women to forcibly stopping a rapist, or he is talking about some other gender? As far as I realistically understand, women are physically much weaker than men to be expected to be able to forcibly stopping a rapist? Or he expects some men will always miraculously come along to save her, or he believe that rapist tries to rape in front of other people and not away from anybody’s eye? This example seems to be very unrealistic to me and completely confusing me.
There are so many things to ask about it, such as:
How OP or other similar people expect that there will certainly be a situation to successfully stop criminal to commit crime forcefully, and there cannot be such a situation where victim cannot do anything and is helpless?
What such people think about the inability of police and court to timely punish the criminals, or simply punish the criminal, and how they see what these impotent people should have to do if luckily they caught the criminal and proves them to be actual criminal. Do these people expect impotent police and court to leave the criminals and do not imprison, despite the fact they probably luckily caught the criminals, or maybe punished wrong person? How do they reconcile between the impotency of court and police, and criminals luckily caught to be punished, to protest for not to imprison those who luckily found to be guilty?
I also don’t understand that how eye for an eye lead to whole world become blind. Of course this is said by bastard Mahatma Gandhi, who monkeys said that don’t see bad, don’t hear bad, and don’t speak bad, but this bastard’s monkeys forgot to say that don’t do bad, for which none of the said acts is necessary. Bad can be done without seeing, hearing or speaking any bad, but this bastard’s monkeys forget to point out that Good cannot be done without seeing, hearing and speaking bad. In other words he only trying to advice everybody to do bad and refrain from doing good, No surprise this Gandhi bastard is part of a political party which come into power when Britishers left India, and no surprise that it is a effect of his non-violence, because with violence against Britishers, this bastard’s allies do not get the ruling position and get kick in their asses. This is why he followed non-violence i.e. for getting ruling position for his people i.e. his caste people. He is a part of most casteist and discriminatory society i.e. Gujarati, which Narendra Modi is also a part of.
I don’t understand how eye for an eye can lead whole world blind. If I take the eye of OP, I would like to know how he will take my eyes?
This will continue tomorrow……….
-- Updated 23 Apr 2015, 16:19 to add the following --
Okay, I think I am quite unstable last night, so I would like to say sorry for whatever bad I probably had talked about before. Okay so continuing...
Actually there are too many things to talk about but I will directly come to my philosophy of Respect-Disrespect. I think generally most of the crime is committed due to some issue about getting respect or being disrespected. I think both who initially commit crime and the one who ask for vengeance ask for respect or not at least disrespect. Respect-disrespect is the root cause of most crime and vengeance.
I think instead of emphasizing on someone's insecurity, weakness, self-value, lack of strength, toughness etc., OP should concentrate on respect and more precisely fear of feeling disrespected/disrespectful, because all the previous ones are in some way related with something to be disrespect or bring disrespect either from others people or by ourself.
For example: A person who will feel that he is weak, will also likely to feel frightened that other will take advantage of his weakness and will disrespected, so instead of looking weak he chose to look strong.
A person with low self-value is not ready to accept the fact because it brings feeling of disrespect for himself.
It is the same with other negative and undesirable traits, such as lack of strength, poverty, lack of toughness, lack of intelligence, lack of power etc. i.e. all of these brings disrespect from others and themselves. And the individuals who don't want to accept these facts, tries to behave in a way opposite to what they actually are, to get respected or at least not disrespected. So issue of disrespect seems central to me in every such distorted behaviour.
I observed that the people who have many such facts around themselves that brings disrespect from society,develops more criminals than others. For example: Poverty. In our country, there is much respect disparity among different societies depending upon different factors, and more criminal mentality is in those people who are disrespected the most.
I believe that any such facts which brings or can bring disrespect and shame, provoke people to develop criminal mentality, and they try to do whatever they can do to feel or maintain their respect. I believe respect is the most essential feeling for people to live. Without respect nobody will like to live. Its very necessary to live, and therefore very valuable.
So I believe all criminal mentality, crime and vengeance is done for being respected or not disrespected, or pay for loss of respect which is very valuable. This is why people ask for vengeance with huge interest to crime done. When something wrong is done towards others, people feel that it is done with the assumption that they are weak. It amounts to disrespect towards them, and for getting the respect back people go for vengeance. Crime done to them maybe not a big one, but loss of respect is huge one. I think people also feel that if they will keep silent, it will bring more such criminal attempt towards them. Secondly people will laugh at you if you do not do anything towards one who did wrong to you, thinking you are weak and coward. Believe me, most people think like this. So vengeance is desired with interests because not only you have to pay back for crime, but also for loss of respect.
So I think OP should try to develop the philosophy about respect-disrespect and crime and vengeance, instead of philosophizing about weakness, lack of strength, power, money, toughness etc. You cannot make any person understand while you are abusing them with such disrespectful ideologies. Of course people are weak, lack strength but this is not necessarily because it is in themselves. Their life situations, desires, and outer factors like courts and police are more responsible for their weaknesses. You cannot disrespect them because of these. It is your disrespect because of which they are provoked to behave differently. So imo you have to develop the respectful ideology of respect-disrespect to make anybody understand about crime, criminal attitude and vengeance.
To be continued........
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Revenge is the ugliest emotion, and I mean number one, I can think of. Reason and understanding go right out the window.
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If punishment serves no useful view, how do you propose people or societies deal with those committing harmful acts like rape, murder, or genocide? Are we just supposed to ask those who commit those acts to not do them again?Alglenne wrote:I have a lifelong controvercial view that punishment serves no useful purpose. Vengeance is punishment; in most cases, it is extreme punishment - it serves no useful purpose.
I don't think members of tribal cultures whose only possible form of justice against transgressing members of other tribes would agree. Also, we take rational vengeance against others every day. We take vengeance when we punitively break up with our partners who cheat on us. We take vengeance when we punitively leave no tips to waiters who gave us bad service. So, it is far from the ugliest emotion.
Reason: combined separate posts
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I wouldn't call what you are describing "vengeance". I'd call it something more like "taking care of business", "protecting oneself", or perhaps "managing one's life effectively". One need not feel any hatred, anger, or "vengeance" when divorcing a wayward spouse, or not tipping a crappy waiter.Henry Case wrote: I don't think members of tribal cultures whose only possible form of justice against transgressing members of other tribes would agree. Also, we take rational vengeance against others every day. We take vengeance when we punitively break up with our partners who cheat on us. We take vengeance when we punitively leave no tips to waiters who gave us bad service. So, it is far from the ugliest emotion.
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Vengeance by definition is "punishment inflicted in retaliation for an injury or offense : retribution." So, whether you would call my examples "vengeance" or not, they very often are vengeance. They all are often, if not always, punishment inflicted in retaliation for an injury and offense. And, while betrayed spouses and poorly served restaurant customers need not be angry to enact vengeance, they very often are when they do so.Atreyu wrote:I wouldn't call what you are describing "vengeance". I'd call it something more like "taking care of business", "protecting oneself", or perhaps "managing one's life effectively". One need not feel any hatred, anger, or "vengeance" when divorcing a wayward spouse, or not tipping a crappy waiter.Henry Case wrote: I don't think members of tribal cultures whose only possible form of justice against transgressing members of other tribes would agree. Also, we take rational vengeance against others every day. We take vengeance when we punitively break up with our partners who cheat on us. We take vengeance when we punitively leave no tips to waiters who gave us bad service. So, it is far from the ugliest emotion.
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Punishment serves many purposes most of which are virtuous. The problem is that that punishment may do a poor job of accomplishing it's stated goal.Alglenne wrote:I have a lifelong controvercial view that punishment serves no useful purpose. Vengeance is punishment; in most cases, it is extreme punishment - it serves no useful purpose.
For example punishment can serve as a deterant to future transgressions by the perp. It can do the same for observers which are considering doing a similar crime. It can provide restitution. It can make the injured party feel better emotionally. It can prevent future transgressions (as opposed to deter them ie incarceration vs "teaching a lesson").
So punishment can serve many purposes, the question is how well does a specific type of punishment meet its goals.
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Though if somehow killed my whole family, I'd not have any doubt about the need to seek vengeance. I'd kill the killer myself. There's nothing wrong with immorality, after all. You cannot apply morality to a subjective situation, sometimes vengeance appears "rightful" and there's no rule that can reasonably contradict it. You can let your feelings decide, but don't let vengeance blind you.