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  1. #1
    Furry Critter with Claws Kiddo's Avatar
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    Default Revenge and Retaliation

    Why do humans do this? It doesn't make much sense to me since it's like the most primitive form of law there is. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth? If you see one child hitting another, do you go to the other child and tell them to go ahead and hit back? Of course not.

    I remember watching the news awhile after that first grader shot the 6 year-old girl and I was surprised by this comment, "And then the family learned they would never be able to prosecute the child." What the hell? You want to send a 6 year-old to prison? They weren't even talking about the parents of the shooter, but they were literally suggesting that this little kid should be sent to prison. Where is the logic behind that?

    Immediately after 9-11, everyone at my high school was hyped up for war. Let's go find the bastards who did this and bomb the hell out of them! Well the people who did it are clearly already dead. So we go for the people who planned it. But for some reason we never catch them. So we go to war with another country that isn't doing what we tell them to do in the name of catching future prospective terrorists and making the world safer. Only the country we went to war with to go after terrorists becomes a haven for terrorists because the killing and violence has pissed off a lot of people there.

    And then I look at the Middle East. The Palestinians do something that leads Israelis to die. The Israelis retaliate by doing something that leads to Palestinians dying. The Palestinians then retaliate doing something that leads to Israelis dying. Can you guess what happens next?

    We are smart enough to know that all this vengeance and retaliation leads to a cycle of violence that never ends, but we do it anyway. Why?

  2. #2
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Revenge does seem stupid, and I'm against it, but I think I know where it comes from.

    At the core, human beings are a social species, which aim to support each other. However, if we lived in a world where everyone gave and gave, social "cheaters" would consume the system.
    So a new concept is devised.
    I clean you.
    You clean me.
    If you don't clean me, then I won't clean you again, and I'll tell everyone that you don't clean back.
    Huzzah! A simple anti-cheater program.
    As is often the case, things like this develop into an evolutionary arms race, and new measures develop on and on.
    Revenge is one of these anti-cheater measures.
    It is a doomsday device. It serves no purpose once it is activated.
    It's only purpose was to make people avoid activating it.

    Never the less, I think this is one of many evolutionary traits that have gone obsolete in modern society.
    Go to sleep, iguana.


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  3. #3
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    Revenge and retaliation as natural deterrent mechanisms? That's insightful. The fear of retribution would seem to be a necessity in human psychology. It's like nuclear weapons, no one is suppose to use them, they exist to deter others from using them. Humans are very silly creatures and it's a wonder we have yet to destroy one another. I have to agree though, I would hope that in a modern society we wouldn't need fear to motivate us to get along.

  4. #4
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Well, as you may have noticed, technology and its effects have leapt way ahead of human biological development.

    It complicates a lot of things.
    Go to sleep, iguana.


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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    Well, as you may have noticed, technology and its effects have leapt way ahead of human biological development.

    It complicates a lot of things.
    Perhaps humans have become obsolete. Maybe one day humans will succeed in destroying each other and our technology will be what survives and continues to evolve. It would probably serves us right.

  6. #6
    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    Revenge and retaliation as natural deterrent mechanisms? That's insightful. The fear of retribution would seem to be a necessity in human psychology. It's like nuclear weapons, no one is suppose to use them, they exist to deter others from using them. Humans are very silly creatures and it's a wonder we have yet to destroy one another. I have to agree though, I would hope that in a modern society we wouldn't need fear to motivate us to get along.
    Yup, and it works both at local and macro scales.

    For example, I use a rather simple defense mechanism - I have a very small chance of retaliation, but I use a complete scorched earth policy. This allows me to advertise it early and often, along with a few signals to make sure it is intuitively grasped.

    However, it also works in the larger scale - knowing that retribution will come provides a major negative incentive. Laws and police are a good example of this.

    There is nothing wrong with this - in fact, I'd say this is the best way it can be handled. The inherent behaviour needed for 'just getting along' is very limiting... I can think of either extreme passiveness in face of nature (along with us not becoming the dominant species, I would say that it would ensure our extinction even now) or some form of hive-mind, which may or may not be capable of advancing as far as we have.

    The major problem is that the act of violence can be motivated not for revenge, but for greed or personal gain. If everyone only punished errant behaviour (without some form of spiral, which is a big problem on its own), things would probably be much better. Unfortunately we are still tribalish creatures and probably will be for a very long time - we are just wired that way.

  7. #7
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    Everything ends. Whether you seek revenge or not, you die, and they die. So I guess what really matters is how you live before you die. (Afterlife, if you believe in it, does not apply.)

    If somebody hits me, I'm going to hit them back. Two wrongs don't make a right, but it helps fill in the hole. Or even if doesn't, at least it helps make you feel better and helps make them feel worse, which is what is so sweet about revenege.

    Although I'm not saying it's the best way to go and many people take it way too far.

  8. #8
    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    I think it is more of a problem when people want to extract excessive and unreasoned revenge. An eye for an eye is fair and reasonable. A head for an eye is not and can start a cycle of crazy feuding.

    I, personally, don't teach my kids not to hit back, but I do teach them to pursue other measures first, like leaving or tattling. It is untrue that violence never solves anything. Sometimes judiciously applied violence (or the threat of such) is the most effective way to solve some things with people inclined toward bullying or other exploitive behaviors.
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
    ~ John Rogers

  9. #9
    Furry Critter with Claws Kiddo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    The inherent behaviour needed for 'just getting along' is very limiting... I can think of either extreme passiveness in face of nature (along with us not becoming the dominant species, I would say that it would ensure our extinction even now) or some form of hive-mind, which may or may not be capable of advancing as far as we have.
    I disagree. Punishment is typically not the most effective deterrent. I believe the evidence is that rewards and positive reinforcement are usually much more effective in controlling people's behavior. Otherwise people would never commit crimes, or would be less likely to do so with stronger punishments. In fact, it's evident that people will destroy themselves to in order to obtain an immediate reward despite any punishment.

    I would say the major flaw in retribution is the belief that it does work when it doesn't. What it succeeds in doing is making some humans better than others at hiding that they are doing something wrong or unacceptable.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by cafe View Post
    It is untrue that violence never solves anything. Sometimes judiciously applied violence (or the threat of such) is the most effective way to solve some things with people inclined toward bullying or other exploitive behaviors.
    There is a difference between violence and punishment and I believe it's an important distinguishment to make. Violence is an act of aggression against another, usually with the intent of causing that other person some form of harm. Punishment is the imposing of something unpleasant or aversive on someone else, not with the intention of causing harm, but to alter their behavior. Violence is never, ever justified, and I can't see how anyone can believe it ever is.

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