Sunday, August 12, 2007

On Guilt

"An issue of guilt, he thought, had to rest on his own acceptance of the code of justice that pronounced him guilty…. What sort of code permitted the concept of a punishment that required the victim’s own virtue as fuel to make it work? A code—he thought—which would destroy only those who tried to observe it; a punishment, from which only the honest would suffer, while the dishonest would escape unhurt."
-from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged

(More of what I'm currently reading in sidebar to the right.)


Eric Carr said...

Have you seen the Simpsons episode where Maggie gets sent to the Ayn Rand preschool? That's got to be one of my favorite episodes.

This quote brings up the issue of what to do with sociopaths and people with borderline personality disorder. If someone has no conscience or is somehow morally incapacitated, can there be any reformation or restoration for them?

Psychology Today had an article a couple years ago that said up to 8 percent of the American population were either sociopathic or BPD, and therefore had no sense of guilt. Their impetus for functional behavior was solely based on risk versus reward. And so the article posited that many of our corporate executives fell into this category, and that's why they could lay off thousands of people or use Chinese slave labor and not have any problem sleeping at night.

So the idea of guilt as a catalyst for repentance has no bearing on someone who has no capacity for guilt.

Dennis Plummer said...

I think the Simpsons are the new moral compass for our society! (And I know the episode you mention.) Very interesting Pscyh Today article. All of this brings to mind the approach and assumptions of hell-fire-and brimstone preachers who rely on fear and guilt to convert, as opposed to preaching love. Hmm.... God is what?