By Charles K. Bellinger
Numerous historians, philosophers, and social scientists have tried to supply convincing causes of the roots of violence, with combined and complicated effects. This booklet brings Kierkegaard's voice into this dialog in a strong means, arguing that the Christian highbrow culture bargains the major philosophical instruments wanted for comprehending human pathology.
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Extra info for The Genealogy of Violence: Reflections on Creation, Freedom, and Evil
Suppose that I had been present in the crowd—I dare not believe that I among a whole generation would have been one of the twelve—suppose that I had been present! Well, but neither can I think it of myself that I would have been present in order to take part in the mockery. . . I would have acted no better than the crowd of people! (CD, 259–260) Here again we find an acute sensitivity to the psychology of the lynch mob. The crowd has a need to kill its victim—a need that has arisen out of its own dynamics, without any reference to the actual guilt or innocence of the one being killed.
The deeper self now shapes the deceitful flexibility of the surrounding world in such a way that it is no longer attractive to that first self. Then the first self either must proceed to kill the deeper self, to render it forgotten, whereby the whole matter is given up; or it must admit that the deeper self is right, because to want to predicate constancy of something that continually changes is indeed a contradiction, and as soon as one confesses that it changes, it can, of course, change in that same moment.
Gradations in the degree of consciousness, which had been the basis of earlier distinctions, were seen in the comparison of person with person; the distinguishing criterion was within the realm of the human. But now the criterion is the “theological self,” the self directly before God, and the starting point is the truth that every sin, before it is a sin against others is, first and last, a sin against God: God is not some externality in the sense that a policeman is. The point that must be observed is that the self has a conception of God and yet does not will as he wills, and thus is disobedient.