December 20, 2013 at 9:41am
The well-intentioned, progressive and merciful rehabilitators of people are not much different from the age-old moralists. The biggest difference is that the later believed in the classical religious distinctions of good and evil, innocence and guilty, while the former develop their argument on top of a confuse post-modern theory of determinism, that ends up blurring the fundamental liberal justifications of punishment, replacing it with a Pollyannistic hope of universal redemption through spirit reform. Of ‘course, like all utopias, without much grounds on science or History.
If convicted of a crime, have mercy on me: I rather be punished than “rehabilitated”. I prefer the prisons of the body rather than the prisons of the soul.
It may be, on the other hand, that there is a more radical flaw in our present strategies [of rehabilitation of criminals] – that education at its best, cannot overcome, or even appreciably reduce, the powerful tendency for offenders to continue in criminal behaviour. Our present treatment programs are based on a theory of crime as a “disease” – that is to say, as something foreign and abnormal in the individual which can presumably be cured. This theory may well be flawed, in that it overlooks – indeed, denies – both the normality of crime in society and the personal normality of a very large proportion of offenders, criminals who are merely responding to the facts and conditions of our society.
This opposing theory of “crime as a social phenomenon” directs our attention away from the “rehabilitative” strategy, away from the notion that we may best insure public safety through a series of “treatments” to be imposed forcibly on convicted offenders. These treatments have on occasion become, and have the potential for becoming, so draconian as to offend the moral order of a democratic society; and the theory of crime as a social phenomenon suggests that such treatments may be not only offensive but ineffective as well. …”
— Robert Martinson – What Works? Questions and Answers About Prison Reform, The Public Interest, 1974.
November 26, 2013 at 8:57am
You are entering a new world where you will certainly be successful because you have knowledge. Study has always been our religious duty as jews. Our exclusion from society has given us an ability to adapt to others and to sense connections between things that seem diverse. But if you feel you have power, you are mistaken. If you feel you have the right to put yourself ahead of others because you think you know more than they do, you are wrong. Never allow yourself to be driven into the sin of conceit. Conceit is the greatest of sins. The source of all other sins. Never give up your religion. Not for God. God is present in all religions. But if your life becomes a struggle for acceptance, you’ll always be unhappy. Religion may not be perfect, but it is a well-built boat that can stay balanced and carry you to the other shore. Our life is nothing but a boat adrift on water balanced by permanent uncertainty. About the people whom you will judge, know this; all they do is struggle to find a kind of security. They’re just people, like us. Therefore you mustn’t judge them on the basis of appearance or hearsay. Trust no one. Examine all things yourself. Do not join with power. Despise all rank. Do not be ostentatious with what is yours. Owning possessions and property ultimately comes to nothing. Possessions and property can be consumed by fire, swept away by flood, taken away by politics. Do not undertake what you do not know. This causes anxiety which makes you ill. Exercise discipline.
— Letter from ancestors, read by main character on the movie Sunshine.
Good and bad luck, chance and opportunity
It is significant that concepts such as luck, chance, opportunity, ‘hitting the jackpot’-what we generally regard as someone’s being un- deservingly favoured by circumstances beyond his or our control-are not found in all cultures. Indeed, in many languages there is no way of expressing such ideas.
Yet where one of these concepts exists in a society, it plays a crucial part in controlling the problem of envy. Man can come to terms with the evident inequality of the individual human lot, without succumbing to envy that is destructive of both himself and others, only if he can put the responsibility on some impersonal power-blind chance or fortune, which neither he himself nor the man favoured is able to monopolize. ‘Today it’s the other man who is lucky-tomorrow it may be I.’ We derive the same consolation from the expression ‘to have bad luck.’ Thus what is involved is no providential God, whose favours can be won by special zeal in worship or a pure way of life, for this would most surely induce that bitter, consuming envy of the ‘holier- than-thou’ fanatic, so amply corroborated by history-as in the witch trials, for instance.
Oddly enough, there is also a half-way stage: while a culture may have a concept of disparate fortunes, of inequitably distributed opportunity, members of that culture may not quite dare to count on their luck. For they continue to be afraid that there may be other powers or gods, projections of their fellow men, who will vent their anger upon those very mortals on whom the arbitrary goddess of fortune has smiled. This was the stage reached by the ancient Greeks.
In English there are two words, ‘happiness’ and ‘luck,’ for the one German word, Glück. But whereas the balanced and fulfilled mental state which is happiness depends in the final analysis on the individual himself, to have good or bad luck is something quite independent of effort, prediction or human intervention. It is perfectly possible to envy the other his serenity and happiness, because it is obvious how much this depends on his work and the way he behaves, but by definition it is virtually impossible to envy him for being just lucky. Thus the English language, by using these expressions, takes some of the potential envy out of human relations.
A sportsman, a schoolboy or a businessman who has scored an unusually brilliant success, thus becoming a possible object ofenvy, will simply shrug his shoulders and say: ‘I suppose I was just lucky.’ In this way, though usually unconsciously, he seeks to disarm possible envy. The English word ‘luck,’ indeed, derives from Middle High German gelücke, which in the above sense of the term is defined as follows: an aimless, unpredictable and uncontrollable power which shapes events either favourably or unfavourably for the individual, the group or the cause. Or again: a chance combination of factors, having consequences that are favourable or unfavourable to a person.
The word ‘happiness,’ on the other hand, originally meant something much like luck, that is, a condition due to ‘haphazard’ occurrences or happenings. Gradually, however, happiness began to acquire the quite different meaning of well-being giving rise to contentment, which, by its nature, could be enjoyed simultaneously by everyone. Jeremy Bentham in his formula ‘the greatest happiness of the greatest number’ could only have used it in this sense. For it would be a nonsensical demand, were the term ‘good luck’ substituted for ‘happiness,’ since an individual person can have ‘luck’ only if its distribution throughout the rest of the world is both unequal and sparse. It is, of course, possible for any number of people in a society to be happy, since this depends largely on themselves. But they can never all ‘hit the jackpot’ at once, all be favoured by fate. This would be impossible from a space-time point of view. Yet modern social philosophers have turned this confusion of terms into a dangerous principle, through their belief that the equality of opportunity they are always talking about would lead to equality of happiness. Exactly the reverse is true.
– excerpt from Helmut Schoeck’s Envy –
Well, whiles I am a beggar, I will rail,
And say there is no sin but to be rich;
And being rich, my virtue then shall be
To say there is no vice but beggary.
— King John (2.1.612
Counting the Omer reminds us that things that are worthwhile and meaningful in life don’t happen at lightening speed and require focus. In fact, it is quite the opposite. A famous mishna from Berachot, for example, teaches us that early mystics would prepare for an hour to pray, then would pray, and would spend an hour winding down afterward.
Better a bad press than a good epitaph.
— Golda Meir
Today, for the mass of humanity, science and technology embody ‘miracle, mystery, and authority’. Science promises that the most ancient human fantasies will at last be realized. Sickness and ageing will be abolished; scarcity and poverty will be no more; the species will become immortal. Like Christianity in the past, the modern cult of science lives on the hope of miracles. But to think that science can transform the human lot is to believe in magic. Time retorts to the illusions of humanism with the reality: frail, deranged, undelivered humanity. Even as it enables poverty to be diminished and sickness to be alleviated, science will be used to refine tyranny and perfect the art of war.
— John Gray
So you think that money is the root of all evil?” said Francisco d’Anconia. “Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can’t exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?
— Ayn Rand on Atlas Unshrugged
September 8, 2012 at 5:52pm
Suponhamos que alguém fosse consistentemente bem sucedido ao predizer eventos de uma certa espécie, eventos, por assim dizer, que não são ordinariamente considerados predizíveis, como o resultado de uma loteria. Se sua série de sucessos fosse suficientemente impressionante poderíamos muito bem chegar a dizer que ele sabia quais números iriam ser sorteados, embora não chegasse a essa conclusão por algum método racional, ou mesmo por qualquer método. Podíamos dizer que ele sabia isso por intuição, mas isto seria afirmar que sabia mas que não podia dizer como. Da mesma maneira, se alguém fosse consistentemtne bem sucedido ao ler as mentes dos outros sem ter qualquer tipo usual de evidência, poderíamos dizer que conhecia essas coisas telepaticamente. Mas na falta de qualquer explicação adicional poder-se-ia dizer apenas que as conhecia, mas não pelos meios ordinarios. Palavras como “intuição” e “telepatia” servem apenas para disfarçar o fato de que nenhuma explicação foi encontrada. … Devemos lhe conceder o direito de estar certo, simplesmente na base do seu êxito.
— A. J. Ayer - Filosofia e Conhecimento