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Use of violence for "self defence"

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  • toroloki
    Thank you for granting me admission to your stopic group. One dillema I am trying to resolve right now ( hopefully this will not offend you) is this. I happen
    Message 1 of 6 , Dec 4, 2006
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      Thank you for granting me admission to your stopic group. One dillema
      I am trying to resolve right now ( hopefully this will not offend you)
      is this. I happen to live in a rather slummy area for the time being.
      And, although I try to practice apatheia, I must admit that I am
      running out of patience with drug addicts, drug dealers, beggars,
      pimps and prostitutes. I have several times been threatened with
      physical violence, and this is really trying my patience. Moreover, I
      believe that it is our duty to resist evil.
      So,l my question is : when is it permissible to use violence against
      the evil ones ( p.s. these ones do not listen to reason ; they are not
      reasonable beings, therefore I classify them as "not human" , even
      lower than animals, since, they have had the oppertunity to become as
      the gods, but, instead they choose to become even lower than animals.)
      Even stoics such as Macus Antoninus,did use violence, when such was
      forced upon them, are there any guidelines anyone can give me , which
      would justify the use of physical force against such evil things? (
      recognizing of course, that all things serve the will of the gods)?
    • Robin Turner
      ... This is really two questions: the first is when it is permissable to use violence; the second is what our attitude should be towards other people. The
      Message 2 of 6 , Dec 5, 2006
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        On 05/12/06, toroloki <toroloki@...> wrote:
        > Thank you for granting me admission to your stopic group. One dillema
        > I am trying to resolve right now ( hopefully this will not offend you)
        > is this. I happen to live in a rather slummy area for the time being.
        > And, although I try to practice apatheia, I must admit that I am
        > running out of patience with drug addicts, drug dealers, beggars,
        > pimps and prostitutes. I have several times been threatened with
        > physical violence, and this is really trying my patience. Moreover, I
        > believe that it is our duty to resist evil.
        > So,l my question is : when is it permissible to use violence against
        > the evil ones ( p.s. these ones do not listen to reason ; they are not
        > reasonable beings, therefore I classify them as "not human" , even
        > lower than animals, since, they have had the oppertunity to become as
        > the gods, but, instead they choose to become even lower than animals.)
        > Even stoics such as Macus Antoninus,did use violence, when such was
        > forced upon them, are there any guidelines anyone can give me , which
        > would justify the use of physical force against such evil things? (
        > recognizing of course, that all things serve the will of the gods)?

        This is really two questions: the first is when it is permissable to
        use violence; the second is what our attitude should be towards other
        people.

        The question of violence has been discussed here, and you might want
        to have a look at the archives. To sum up, Stoicism is not a pacifist
        philosophy: violence is obviously a highly dispreferred indifferent,
        but there are times when it is appropriate to behave violently,
        specifically when the alternative is an even more dispreferred. There
        is a general consensus that violence in physical self-defence is
        normally appropriate if there exist no non-violent alternatives.
        Violence in other situations is more problematic. The specific case of
        how you should react when threatened with violence depends on the
        situation. As a rule of thumb, if you think the person really intends
        to do violence to you, then react strongly - call the police, punch
        him in the face, shoot him or whatever. If it is an empty threat, then
        empty is what it is, and as the classic writers might say, "it is no
        concern of yours."

        However, all this is simply part of the second question: how we should
        behave toward those you term "evil ones". The first thing to remember
        is that according to the ancient Stoics, everyone other than the sage
        falls into this category, and since sages are either rare or
        non-existent, in practice this means all of us. It's a bit like the
        Christian view that we are all sinners, with the exception that for
        the Stoics, it is at least theoretically possible to become free of
        "sin" (vice, in Stoic terms) through our own efforts, and certainly
        practically possible to reduce it substantially. Thus there is no
        qualitative difference between you and me, and pimps and pushers. I
        therefore think it is dangerous to count such people as "not human"
        (in previous discussions some of us took the view that _some_ people
        might fall into this category, but there we were largely talking about
        hypothetical cases, not the kind of people you meet on the street).

        Robin
      • mattomoran
        ... ... You said Thus there is no qualitative difference between you and me, and pimps and pushers. If you are a slave to brain chemical rewards, like
        Message 3 of 6 , Dec 5, 2006
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          --- In stoics@yahoogroups.com, "Robin Turner" <robin@...> wrote:
          >
          <snip>
          > However, all this is simply part of the second question: how we should
          > behave toward those you term "evil ones". The first thing to remember
          > is that according to the ancient Stoics, everyone other than the sage
          > falls into this category, and since sages are either rare or
          > non-existent, in practice this means all of us. It's a bit like the
          > Christian view that we are all sinners, with the exception that for
          > the Stoics, it is at least theoretically possible to become free of
          > "sin" (vice, in Stoic terms) through our own efforts, and certainly
          > practically possible to reduce it substantially. Thus there is no
          > qualitative difference between you and me, and pimps and pushers. I
          > therefore think it is dangerous to count such people as "not human"
          > (in previous discussions some of us took the view that _some_ people
          > might fall into this category, but there we were largely talking about
          > hypothetical cases, not the kind of people you meet on the street).

          You said "Thus there is no qualitative difference between you and me,
          and pimps and pushers."

          If you are a slave to brain chemical rewards, like an animal or a
          pimp, you could find a benefit and reward in harming others. From the
          pimp's perspective his life is better than someone who works all day
          and comes home and watches TV, harming nobody. He is not
          self-reflective or self-critical. Can animals do wrong?

          There was an article in Psychology Today magazine about 2 months ago
          talking about bullies and violent offenders. The old theory was that
          they did these things out a feeling of inferiority. The study found
          that they actually felt really good about themselves, so superior in
          fact they didn't feel the pains of what they were doing wrong.

          No man is free who is not master of himself. And to be run by brain
          chemisty, full of desire and not acting your part well, is obviously
          not to be free. Then they are no different than base animals
          following insticts and inate inclinations.

          But as your said, this pretty much qualifies all non-sages. Each has
          his own morality, the morality of 1, and tries to fit into society and
          make himself comfortable. Though, of course, without proper
          persective that venture is doomed as it is a house of straw, but
          that's what people look for, and try to maximize, though they cannot
          perfect it.

          Do you think it's as truly black and white as I implied from your
          message, or is there room for a large gray area for progress? Would
          there be a qualitative difference between a prokopton and a pimp?

          Best,
          Matt

          > Robin
          >
        • Robin Turner
          ... Interesting. I m curious as to whether they felt good about themselves per se and the bullying was incidental, or they felt good about themselves _because_
          Message 4 of 6 , Dec 5, 2006
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            On 05/12/06, mattomoran <mattomoran@...> wrote:
            > --- In stoics@yahoogroups.com, "Robin Turner" <robin@...> wrote:
            > >
            > <snip>
            > > However, all this is simply part of the second question: how we should
            > > behave toward those you term "evil ones". The first thing to remember
            > > is that according to the ancient Stoics, everyone other than the sage
            > > falls into this category, and since sages are either rare or
            > > non-existent, in practice this means all of us. It's a bit like the
            > > Christian view that we are all sinners, with the exception that for
            > > the Stoics, it is at least theoretically possible to become free of
            > > "sin" (vice, in Stoic terms) through our own efforts, and certainly
            > > practically possible to reduce it substantially. Thus there is no
            > > qualitative difference between you and me, and pimps and pushers. I
            > > therefore think it is dangerous to count such people as "not human"
            > > (in previous discussions some of us took the view that _some_ people
            > > might fall into this category, but there we were largely talking about
            > > hypothetical cases, not the kind of people you meet on the street).
            >
            > You said "Thus there is no qualitative difference between you and me,
            > and pimps and pushers."
            >
            > If you are a slave to brain chemical rewards, like an animal or a
            > pimp, you could find a benefit and reward in harming others. From the
            > pimp's perspective his life is better than someone who works all day
            > and comes home and watches TV, harming nobody. He is not
            > self-reflective or self-critical. Can animals do wrong?
            >
            > There was an article in Psychology Today magazine about 2 months ago
            > talking about bullies and violent offenders. The old theory was that
            > they did these things out a feeling of inferiority. The study found
            > that they actually felt really good about themselves, so superior in
            > fact they didn't feel the pains of what they were doing wrong.

            Interesting. I'm curious as to whether they felt good about themselves
            per se and the bullying was incidental, or they felt good about
            themselves _because_ they were bullying. Beating the crap out of
            someone (whether physically in the school yard or metaphorically in
            the boardroom) can certainly make you feel good, whatever undesirable
            side-effects it may have. In either case, it confirms my suspicion
            that the vogue for self-esteem is misguided.

            > No man is free who is not master of himself. And to be run by brain
            > chemisty, full of desire and not acting your part well, is obviously
            > not to be free. Then they are no different than base animals
            > following insticts and inate inclinations.

            I would say we are all run by brain chemistry, but that's just like
            saying that computers are run by silicon (well, almost). The ancient
            Stoics would of course disagree, since they thought we were run by
            heart chemistry ;-)

            > But as your said, this pretty much qualifies all non-sages. Each has
            > his own morality, the morality of 1, and tries to fit into society and
            > make himself comfortable. Though, of course, without proper
            > persective that venture is doomed as it is a house of straw, but
            > that's what people look for, and try to maximize, though they cannot
            > perfect it.
            >
            > Do you think it's as truly black and white as I implied from your
            > message, or is there room for a large gray area for progress? Would
            > there be a qualitative difference between a prokopton and a pimp?

            I was explaining the classical Stoic view, which is notoriously black
            and white. As Chrysippus puts it, someone whose head is an inch
            underwater drowns as surely as someone at the bottom of the sea.
            Personally I think this extreme dualism is one of the main weaknesses
            of Stoicism. However, I still see the difference between the prokopton
            and the pimp as quantitative, not qualitative; in fact I'd say it was
            at least theoretically possible to be both a prokopton and a pimp,
            though it is hard to envisage circumstances that would make it likely.
            In any case, I think people are far too complex to be able to evaluate
            globally.

            Robin
          • Uncle Fester
            toroloki wrote: ... are there any guidelines anyone can give me , which would justify the use of physical
            Message 5 of 6 , Dec 5, 2006
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              toroloki <toroloki@...> wrote:
              ...
              are there any guidelines anyone can give me , which
              would justify the use of physical force against such evil things? (
              recognizing of course, that all things serve the will of the gods)?
              ---

              By appearances, you seem to be looking for justification to pursue your impulse to behave in a certain way.  That is asking Reason to rubber stamp the inclinations of your appetites.  The first order of business is to govern yourself.

              Remember that Justice wears a blindfold and carries scales in one hand and a sword in the other.  The meaning of the sword is pretty obvious, but think about what the blindfold and scales might mean.

              I wish you best of luck in keeping your neighborhood safe and clean, and sincerely hope that you and your loved ones are able to prosper in spite of your difficulties.




              Any questions? Get answers on any topic at Yahoo! Answers. Try it now.

            • redkittyspaw
              ....believe that it is our duty to resist evil. ... Seams reasnable to use force in self defence, the bounds OF self defence might be somewhat elastic (is it
              Message 6 of 6 , Dec 5, 2006
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                "....believe that it is our duty to resist evil.
                > So,l my question is : when is it permissible to use violence against
                > the evil ones ( p.s. these ones do not listen to reason ; they are not
                > reasonable beings, therefore I classify them as "not human" , even
                > lower than animals, since, they have had the oppertunity to become as
                > the gods, but, instead they choose to become even lower than animals.)
                > Even stoics such as Macus Antoninus,did use violence, when such was
                > forced upon them, are there any guidelines anyone can give me , which
                > would justify the use of physical force against such evil things? (
                > recognizing of course, that all things serve the will of the gods)..."

                Seams reasnable to use force in self defence, the bounds OF self
                defence might be somewhat elastic (is it better to destroy an enimy
                rather then let them recover and become a threat? should you use
                pre-emtive strikes?)
                Using force because I consider some one lower on the evolutionary
                scale then myself and dislike them or their kind might be taken as
                letting myself enjoy the worst side of my nature and lowering MYSELF
                to an even lower level then those who do not know better...
                Practicaly speaking I can attest that getting into fights on the
                street usaly gives one of 3 outcomes-

                1)getting ones own head kicked or a knife in the ribs
                2)getting carted off by the cops while your "Innocent victem" cries
                about your "unprovoked assault" (sarcasm intended) and then sues you.
                3)Having 'won' the fight and reduced the anoyance to a humiliated pulp
                having to do the same thing next week when the dude comes back with
                his pals... and then the week after that....and then....

                Fighting to preserve life and limb sensible, but the kind of folks
                that try to pick fights with you on the street will NEVER loose if you
                engage them because they exist to forment trouble and strife be it
                verbal or physical.
                If you take their bait you end up playing THEIR game and putting more
                strife and evil in the world generly and in your own life in paticular.
                If i'd taken my own advice sooner i'd have had a much quiter youth....LOL
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