Wednesday, January 18, 2012
The world has far too much morality
Quote from Steven Pinker (p. 622 of The Better Angels of Our Nature): "The world has far too much morality. If you added up all the homicides committed in pursuit of self-help justice, the casualties of religious and revolutionary wars, the people executed for victimless crimes and misdemeanors, and the targets of ideological genocides, they would surely outnumber the fatalities from amoral predation and conquest. The human moral sense can excuse any atrocity in the minds of those who commit it, and it furnishes them with motives for acts of violence that bring them no tangible benefit. The torture of heretics and conversos, the burning of witches, the imprisonment of homosexuals, and the honor of killing unchaste sisters and daughters are just a few examples. The incalculable suffering that has been visited upon the world by people motivated by a moral cause is enough to make one sympathize with comedian George Carlin when he said, "I think motivation is overrated. You show me some lazy prick who's lying around all day watching game shows and stroking his penis, and I'll show you someone who's not causing any fucking trouble!'"