The transfer of moral corruption

21 August 2008 by Mike Gogulski
Posted in philosophy | 4 Comments »

If my prison guards hit me with truncheons, I must obey them. If I accept that I obey them because they hit me with truncheons, I feel terribly humiliated and helpless, but retain an accurate assessment of the situation. On the other hand, I can choose to reduce my humiliation by imagining not that I comply because I am hit, but rather that I am hit because I disobey. It is not my noncompliance with the guard’s whims that gets me beaten, but rather my noncompliance with moral virtues. The guards do not beat me because they are sadistic – I am beaten because I am evil. The guards are not responsible for beating me – I am responsible for being beaten. The guards are not trying to humiliate me; they are trying to help me, to make me a better person, just as the doctor is trying to help me by making me healthy again.

Do you see how the agony of moral corruption can be transferred from one person to another?

Stefan Molyneux, On Truth: The Tyranny of Illusion

Yeah. Ouch.

  1. 4 Responses to “The transfer of moral corruption”

  2. By MCLA on 21 August 2008

    Nice quote! However, “I am hit because I disobey” doesn’t need to translate to “I am beaten because I am evil.” It can also translates to, “I am beaten because I am stupid. It’s stupid to disobey overwhelming power.” From there it can follow that, “The guards are not responsible for beating me (they are just doing their job) – I am responsible for being beaten.” A person who disobeys superior force is also unlikely to receive any sympathy from his fellow man. Like, well what do you expect if you challenge the powers that be?

  3. By Stefan Molyneux on 21 August 2008

    Thank you for posting the quote – just a reminder, if anyone is interested in the book, the audiobook and PDF are now completely free –

    Thanks again! 🙂

  4. By Mike Gogulski on 21 August 2008

    MCLA: Yep, that too. There are a number of different ways this dynamic can play out, really.

    Stefan: Thanks for stopping by. Only one thing to add to the “completely free” pitch there: worth reading!

  5. By on 22 August 2008

    Great quote, sums up quite well.

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