Monday, July 13, 2009

Epicurus on death

When death is not, we are, and when death is, we are not. So Epicurus argued that we should not fear death. But would that make murder a victimless crime? After all, once it is committed, the victim is no longer around.


Ilíon said...

VR: "... But would that make murder a victimless crime? After all, once it is committed, the victim is no longer around."

Are you beginning to understand one of my points about opposition to capital punishment? Are you beginning to understand where the "logic" of "liberalism" *must* take one?

Victor Reppert said...

I don't think most liberals would accept the Epicurus' argument.

Ilíon said...

Of course, the point is not what this or that "liberal" will or will not accept ... any more than the point on another matter is what this or that atheist or materialist will or will not accept.

The point is to elucidate, examine and understand the logical implications of the world-view one is examining.

Individual "liberals" tend to be inconsistent -- unprincipled -- in just which logical implications of their own world-view they will and will not accept, or, at least, admit to. But, soon or late, "liberals" do eventually embrace each item. That the center of "liberal" opinion may have moved on to a further enormity by the time that the stragglers embrace today's enormity doesn't alter this dynamic.

Dane Parker said...

Of course, I suppose an Epicurian could always argue that the criminality of murder lies in the effect it has on those who are "still around" (i.e. mental and emotional trauma, disruption of society, etc.)?

Ilíon said...

Ah! But the other, deeper, Epicurean will counter that even to seek to punish the murderer would be but to engage in mere vengeance-seeking -- which, as we already know, is a most "immoral" basis upon which to do "justice" -- and, further, that to actually apprehend and punish the murderer would but to inflict mental and emotional trauma upon the murderer and *his* family: No, no, no; it would be most “immoral” of the State to disrupt society in this manner.

Or, as I put it the other day –
For a society (or elite) which *refuses* to impose capital punishment for even the most heinous crimes is a society (or elite) which graphically informs its subjects that "We do not value you as highly as we will the criminal who will injure or murder you; for we do not consider *you* to be a real member of this society." This attitude must always result in death of the society or culture.

Ilíon said...

Or, as I might have responded to this --
VR: Furthermore, do you pass the Jesus Test for executioners? Do you know anyone down at your local state prison who does?

And who are *you* to forgive that fellow over there the injustice he has done me? Who are *you* to pervert and suborn justice on my behalf? Who are *you* to deny me justice so that you may call yourself Merciful?

To put it another, and more blunt, way, “liberalism” is about showing oneself to be more righteous than God is. Which is an absurd ambition.

Victor Reppert said...

Well, I think we can't, as civilized human beings, give everyone the full measure of retribution that is deserved. We make ourselves barbarous if, for example, we torture someone who tortured his victims. Do we really think we ought to make sure we give full retribution to all criminals? Even Lewis in The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment didn't hold that.