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Re: [eldil] C.S. Lewis on punishment

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  • Hummingwolf
    Here s another one, with a variant of the first quote in your mail: I am a democrat because I believe that no man or group of men is good enough to be trusted
    Message 1 of 3 , Sep 20 6:59 AM
      Here's another one, with a variant of the first quote in your mail:

      "I am a democrat because I believe that no man or group of men is good enough to be trusted with uncontrolled power over others. And the higher the pretensions of such power, the more dangerous I think it both to the rulers and to the subjects. Hence Theocracy is the worst of all governments. If we must have a tyrant a robber baron is far better than an inquisitor. The baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity at some point be sated; and since he dimly knows he is doing wrong he may possibly repent. But the inquisitor who mistakes his own cruelty and lust of power and fear for the voice of Heaven will torment us infinitely because he torments us with the approval of his own conscience and his better impulses appear to him as temptations. And since Theocracy is the worst, the nearer any government approaches to Theocracy the worse it will be. A metaphysic, held by the rulers with the force of a religion, is a bad sign. It forbids them, like the
      inquisitor, to admit any grain of truth or good in their opponents, it abrogates the ordinary rules of morality, and it gives a seemingly high, super-personal sanction to all the very ordinary human passions by which, like other men, the rulers will frequently be actuated. In a word, it forbids wholesome doubt. A political programme can never in reality be more than probably right. We never know all the facts about the present and we can only guess the future. To attach to a party programme--whose highest real claim is to reasonable prudence--the sort of assent which we should reserve for demonstrable theorems, is a kind of intoxication."

      --C.S. Lewis, from the essay "A Reply to Professor Haldane," as printed in _On Stories And Other Essays on Literature_

      --- On Sat, 9/20/08, Steve Hayes <hayesstw@...> wrote:

      > From: Steve Hayes <hayesstw@...>
      > Subject: [eldil] C.S. Lewis on punishment
      > To: eldil@yahoogroups.com
      > Date: Saturday, September 20, 2008, 7:07 AM
      > An old message from the C.S. Lewis newsgroup, but perhaps
      > still interesting.
      > Ben Brothers wrote:
      > >
      > > kuritzky@... (Eric Kuritzky) writes:
      > >
      > > >"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for
      > the good of its victims may
      > > >be the most oppressive. It may be better to live
      > under robber barons
      > > >than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber
      > baron's cruelty may
      > > >sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be
      > satiated; but those
      > > >who torment us for our own good will torment us
      > without end, for they
      > > >do so with the approval of their
      > consciences."
      > > > -- C. S. Lewis
      > > A quick Google search reveals the _Humanitarian Theory
      > of
      > > Punishment_, which I believe is part of _God in the
      > Dock_.
      > I checked _A Mind Awake: An Anthology of C.S. Lewis_ out
      > of the library
      > yesterday, and the quote above is indeed said to be from
      > 'The
      > Humanitarian Theory of Punishment,' though the note is
      > that it's from
      > the June 1953 _Res Judicatae_. I should also note that the
      > quote as it
      > appears in _A Mind Awake_ has an additional word; it
      > begins, "Of all
      > tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised..."
      > A couple other quotes:
      > "Of all bad men religious bad men are the worst. Of
      > all created beings
      > the wickedest is one who originally stood in the immediate
      > presence of
      > God."
      > --_Reflections on the Psalms_, ch. 3
      > "A theory of punishment which is purely exemplary or
      > purely reformatory,
      > or both, is shockingly immoral. Only the concept of desert
      > connects
      > punishment with morality at all. If deterrence is all that
      > matters, the
      > execution of an innocent man, provided the public think him
      > guilty,
      > would be fully justified. If reformation alone is in
      > question, then
      > there is nothing against painful and compulsory reform for
      > all our
      > defects, and a Government which believes Christianity to be
      > a neurosis
      > will have a perfectly good right to hand us all over to
      > their
      > straighteners for 'cure' tomorrow."
      > --Letter in _Church Times_ (1 December 1961)
      > --
      > Steve Hayes
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