Killing for Pleasure

This post is a break from the normal schedule. It is a corollary to the “Philosophy Bites?” post a few days ago. I am going to try an answer one of the questions raised by readers of that post, in this case my old sparring partner Tom; who posted the following in the comments:

So, not to disagree with you, because I don’t, but merely to add to the argument, not so much in war, but in the scheme of moral judgements, where do you stand on killing for pleasure? and I don’t mean just for humans…

Note: Any complete answer could stretch to the length of a whole book. Ideas are not isolated but rather conjoined in a massive net of links comprised of concepts, indeed that is their purpose, and I am wary of giving a less than full account of an answer by the necessity to keep within a blog post length. Suffice to say, that this is a “clip notes” version. There may be much here that is lightly treated, but that is not (I hope) because it hasn’t been thought through.

Anyway, the short answer is this:

To kill purely for pleasure is to kill because one is grasping at desire.

This comes from not being able to “feel” anymore. The person is pushed into trying anything to feel again. To sate desire is the only modern way (or indeed requirement) to “feel” something. To kill because one desires seeing the pain of others is to dwell in extreme darkness. However, the new society; a society built around knowing itself, the society un-judging and filled full of people who know themselves will not produce people who kill for pleasure. This is because they would have too much understanding and natural respect for life.

Utopian?

Consider where the “pleasure” of these actions really comes from. Is it not from the illicit nature of the act? The illegality, the acting against the laws of the society brought without? The doing of “wrong” as a source of feeling something, anything? As the main character in “Natural Born Killers,” said, “…eventually you just become bad”.

Consider the school massacres in the US. Many people, many many people, have moralised as to why those guys killed their classmates. Some said it was the lack of prayer. Others claimed it was the access to firearms. Some even blamed the music and games they had. One guy claimed that they were “friendless” outsiders. As Chris Rock said, “I counted 4 of them, that’s more friends than many have. That’s enough for 2 on 2 in a half court!”

The truth is that these boys had lost themselves to such an extent that they couldn’t feel anything. Wrapped in a cotton wool ball of a society, a life with no meaning whatsoever, a culture of only saturating desire, where the highest virtue is to be on the top of a pile of people with, as Eddie Izzard says, “…enough money to grab it with both hands and jam it in your ears and go blarg!”

When satisfying desires are the only virtues, people lose touch with the sense of reality. They start to only define themselves as the “I” in contrast to the world of “not I”. They can only care about themselves, this I, this illusion they have identified themselves with.

They are essentially Super-Selfish.

Clearly, killing in this mentally degraded form is not going to follow the flow of natural justice. It is a symptom of a sickness in the mind and soul. Not in the way often imagined in court, which claims that they have lost the so called “moral self”, rather in the way that they have forgotten about anyone but the “I” that they imagine themselves to be.

But, you asked about the “animal world”.  As I said in the article, I strongly suggest that we are not apart from the animal world; rather we are in it in every way. I don’t differentiate between human and animal. Therefore it is the same. The Killer Whales throwing sea lions to each other may be acting in some way other than “pleasure killing” (in the way we say of a psycho killer), but they may also not be. They may be acting from a pure natural instinct or even a societal pressure. We have no idea. They may be, as Nietzsche said of eagles, acting from a noble principle. A principle he hoped we would develop. In fact, I am sure we have got it – we just repress it for its brutality. They may be suffering every false perspective that we are. I don’t contend that “the animal world” is any better or worse than ours. Basically, because there is only one world and we exist in it in the same way as any other animal.

If I ran a court of law and a case came before me, I would consider it differently from one might expect. In the courts of today, a man may claim to have been “deranged” at the time of the crime. They say this as an excuse. It is not. One who kills in the mind of derangement would be instantly guilty in my court. Being of “unsound mind” at the time of the crime would garner a harsher treatment and punishment than not being. Being out of touch with the natural flow of what is right would be no reason for leniency; it is a damning thing to say in defence.

This is essentially because in the new society freedom comes from a sound knowledge of reality. A person who is freed from the chains of desire would not kill unjustly. Freedom, of course, also means the freedom to commit crimes, but – importantly – it also means knowing the consequences. Killing would garner being killed. Stealing would mean being stolen from.

This, of course, sounds simplistic. Bourgeoisie. What about stealing to prevent starvation?

Ah, well, this is where the new society differs from our own. One would never have to steal to eat or to live. The very concept of the poor is completely tied up with the equally horrendous concept of the rich. They are like a valley and a mountain. In our current society is a necessity that some “have not”.

Digression: I was once told by a teacher that they “don’t want everyone to pass their exams; someone has to clean the roads”. What a horrible concept. In some countries, like for example Japan, they respect all professions and those cleaning roads do so with pride. It is a strange and humbling thing to see for someone brought up in England, but no doubt slowly being eroded.

It is in the heart of capitalism to segregate people into whether they possess “things”, “stuff”, money, “riches”, etc. Society needs to come to know itself. Coming to know that the “I” that we obsess about is by its very nature a tool of grasping desire. It forces us into patterned illusion. So, we look at the “culture of celebrity” rather than look within, we desire what “they” have. Be it better bodies, money or success. We are intensely jealous of their success (usually success in some shallow and worthless realm) because we have been conditioned to believe that financial success and fame is the source of happiness. Take Jordan, or Paris Hilton. Both are only famous because people either want to be them or sleep with them. In a similar way as this looking up and wishing, we look down on others too. We look at such things as the TV show “Eastenders” to tell ourselves that, no matter how bad it is, we do not “sin” as much as those poor petty fuckers!

It is like the old Peter Cook and Dudley Moore sketch, where the three classes all look down on those below and up to those above. Indeed the entire “morality” inherited from Christianity is setup in this way. God sits at the top like a king, his half human son as a prince, the Pope, the Queens, the Lords, the Plebs. Such a structure from above is actually a reflection of our own society. Jesus’ real message was actually quite different and much more mystical.

“I am God’s Son…,” Jesus said. “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 10:36 & John 14:9).

This doesn’t make sense to us in the West if we don’t have a religious hierarchy and thereby make Jesus an immortal son of God. If he had been born in India, and said those things in Hinduism, he would have not garnered even a raised eyebrow. From their point of view we are all “God” and the world is an “act” (in the sense of a play or performance). The spirit of God is “playing” at being us. The comment, “I am God’s Son,” would have been met with congratulations for finally working that out, not a stoning!

Our structure of life in the West, that flows from Christian morals into its Capitalist/Humanist successor, is setup to say that “you are not special”. You are not Jesus. No, you are not even Jordan. You are nothing until you climb over the rest, until you get all that you desire – something you can never do, and become “rich” in stuff. It’s an almost worthless existence.

As Tyler Durden said, “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.”

All of this is to take our mind off the truth, which is that modern life sucks. It is fundamentally, insipidly and culturally bankrupt, puerile and meaningless under its own rules.

In the past we were told that we should become “rock stars” to be happy. In a very important way I “got this”, as at least “rock stars” create something; music. But, then this requires effort, talent and knowing oneself to be creative (try creating art while under illusion, you can’t (and before you mention drugs and music, consider that drugs often open reality not hide it)). In modern times you don’t even need to do anything creative. You just need to be rich. Richness is its own reward and access to fame. It is quite worse than pathetic.

So, while our society is ordered in this way and the world is lost in this way (the Capitalist way of doing things is truly taking over the world spiralling everything down the plughole) then killing can be performed for pleasure, but it is a form of mental sickness. A sickness of losing the connection with oneself and therefore the connection with the ultimate reality; the Dao.

In the new society killing would not and could not be performed for pleasure, but it might be performed for justice.

There is no calamity greater than lavish desires.
There is no greater guilt than discontentment.
And there is no greater disaster than greed.

Lao-tzu

Basho

Note: Of course, my personal philosophy is not pure Daoist. I am the product of my training and upbringing, not to mention my environment, genes and epi-genetics. In this vein, I make no claim to know the true Dao. Anyone who does hasn’t read the book. The very first line makes this clear. I don’t speak the Dao, but sometimes I feel it, and for me that is a source of great happiness.

Bio: Philosopher, film maker, writer and IT expert. Occupation: IT Consultant, film-maker and writer. Interests: Debate, cooking, computer-gaming, reading, writing, videoing, martial arts, air­soft, movies, diving, skiing… (The list goes on — Basho is a philosopher and therefore into everything!)

  • Alexander Hiboux

    Whilst somewhat off topic, and not necessarily disagreeing with the essence of what you write, I have to take issue with one particular point –

    You state that “. . .in the courts of today, a man may claim to have been “deranged” at the time of the crime. They say this as an excuse. It is not. One who kills in the mind of derangement would be instantly guilty in my court. Being of “unsound mind” at the time of the crime would garner a harsher treatment and punishment than not being. Being out of touch with the natural flow of what is right would be no reason for leniency; it is a damning thing to say in defence.”

    This surely fails to recognise the difference between “temporary” and “permanent” insanity, and the consequences that flow therefrom. If a person is born insane, or has insanity thrust upon them by circumstances other than those to which the crime itself relates, then to impose upon that person a punishment harsher than one would upon a “sane” person would, by definition, be punishing a person for what he is, rather than what he does. If this were to be the case then, logically, a society would not have to wait for a person to commit a crime before imposing punishment – a persons own “insanity” would be sufficient.

    Whilst absolutely recognising that it may be using an extreme example to illustrate a simple point, one only has to think of Nazi Germany to see where such a policy could (though one would certainly hope not inevitably) lead. (I would hope the use of such an extreme example does not detract from the overall argument put forward).

    Thus, it is surely the case that a persons existing “insanity” should be neither a defence, a mitigating factor, a cause for exacerbation, or indeed a basis for, either the guilt of, or the sentence imposed upon, that person.

  • Alexander Hiboux

    Whilst somewhat off topic, and not necessarily disagreeing with the essence of what you write, I have to take issue with one particular point –

    You state that “. . .in the courts of today, a man may claim to have been “deranged” at the time of the crime. They say this as an excuse. It is not. One who kills in the mind of derangement would be instantly guilty in my court. Being of “unsound mind” at the time of the crime would garner a harsher treatment and punishment than not being. Being out of touch with the natural flow of what is right would be no reason for leniency; it is a damning thing to say in defence.”

    This surely fails to recognise the difference between “temporary” and “permanent” insanity, and the consequences that flow therefrom. If a person is born insane, or has insanity thrust upon them by circumstances other than those to which the crime itself relates, then to impose upon that person a punishment harsher than one would upon a “sane” person would, by definition, be punishing a person for what he is, rather than what he does. If this were to be the case then, logically, a society would not have to wait for a person to commit a crime before imposing punishment – a persons own “insanity” would be sufficient.

    Whilst absolutely recognising that it may be using an extreme example to illustrate a simple point, one only has to think of Nazi Germany to see where such a policy could (though one would certainly hope not inevitably) lead. (I would hope the use of such an extreme example does not detract from the overall argument put forward).

    Thus, it is surely the case that a persons existing “insanity” should be neither a defence, a mitigating factor, a cause for exacerbation, or indeed a basis for, either the guilt of, or the sentence imposed upon, that person.

  • http://www.outsidecontext.com/ Basho

    The argument was somewhat of a digression from the point of the article, so perhaps I should have left it out, and on re-reading it – I certainly could have put it better, but I think in essence the crux of the matter is this:

    If you acted in a moment of Insanity, they you were by definition not in contact with your sense of natural justice. To claim that this somehow absolves you of blame is something that I hate (as much as I am able to hate anything – which isn’t much). I have a natural instinct to distrust it.

    So, while, people are “free” to be insane – and many are to a greater of lesser degree, they are still responsible for the actions that they commit while insane.

    Remember we are talking about killing here, not jaywalking.

    In order to avoid the “judging moral code” that fails everyone, the society needs to allow “almost” any type of lifestyle and personal choice, but hold people to the consequences of actions that cross the rights of others. They are in “trust” to be “free”.

    It is always difficult to forwards any policy of punishment that cannot be taken to be Nazi in some way. They Nazi’s had, more than anyone in recent history, a sense of being “morally superior”. Something that they worked out through “logical reasoning”. Something that I made clear in the Killing In War article leads to horrors being inflicted. And remember the Nazi’s has summary execution, without trial.

    I think, here, you have given me the focus of the next article on this topic: the operation of justice in the new society. Since, how can you have justice without judging moral right and wrong the way that we do now?

    Nice one!

    Thanks for the comment,

  • http://www.outsidecontext.com Basho

    The argument was somewhat of a digression from the point of the article, so perhaps I should have left it out, and on re-reading it – I certainly could have put it better, but I think in essence the crux of the matter is this:

    If you acted in a moment of Insanity, they you were by definition not in contact with your sense of natural justice. To claim that this somehow absolves you of blame is something that I hate (as much as I am able to hate anything – which isn’t much). I have a natural instinct to distrust it.

    So, while, people are “free” to be insane – and many are to a greater of lesser degree, they are still responsible for the actions that they commit while insane.

    Remember we are talking about killing here, not jaywalking.

    In order to avoid the “judging moral code” that fails everyone, the society needs to allow “almost” any type of lifestyle and personal choice, but hold people to the consequences of actions that cross the rights of others. They are in “trust” to be “free”.

    It is always difficult to forwards any policy of punishment that cannot be taken to be Nazi in some way. They Nazi’s had, more than anyone in recent history, a sense of being “morally superior”. Something that they worked out through “logical reasoning”. Something that I made clear in the Killing In War article leads to horrors being inflicted. And remember the Nazi’s has summary execution, without trial.

    I think, here, you have given me the focus of the next article on this topic: the operation of justice in the new society. Since, how can you have justice without judging moral right and wrong the way that we do now?

    Nice one!

    Thanks for the comment,

  • tom frost..

    dude…. i just have to check…. you know who that comment was from right?

  • tom frost..

    dude…. i just have to check…. you know who that comment was from right?

  • http://www.outsidecontext.com/ Basho

    No? You?

  • http://www.outsidecontext.com Basho

    No? You?

  • tom frost..

    wow… yeah.. didnt know you werent in on this one…

    il text yuo the answer… not fair to name him online.

  • tom frost..

    wow… yeah.. didnt know you werent in on this one…

    il text yuo the answer… not fair to name him online.

  • alexander hiboux

    Damn, man. You’re giving me away (grin)! Anyway, would like to think that who it’s from wouldn’t invalidate the argument put forward (don’t shoot the messenger, etc.)

  • alexander hiboux

    Damn, man. You’re giving me away (grin)! Anyway, would like to think that who it’s from wouldn’t invalidate the argument put forward (don’t shoot the messenger, etc.)

  • alexander hiboux

    Further to your post of the 7th, and having taken some time to consider same, I agree that if someone were to act unlawfully in a moment of insanity, that persons temporary insanity should not absolve him of blame as to his actions, because, to return to a view expressed in my earlier post, a difference must be drawn between “temporary” and “permanent” insanity.

    If someone acts out of temporary insanity, then by definition, for the prior, and presumably post, act period, that person is in a state of sanity and as such they are aware of what is right and wrong, and thus must be aware of what could loosely be termed natural justice. Ergo, they have at sometime understood right and wrong, and presumably do so again. The fact that this was rejected for such period as to “allow” the act to happen should be no basis for a defence.

    However, if a person has always been “insane”, then that person may well have never understood the concept of right and wrong, and perhaps never will. Thus there has been no rejection of right and wrong, but rather a fundemental inability to understand the concept at any time, not just at the time of the act itself.

    The fact that the rest of society understands the concept should not be imposed upon the individual, otherwise we are moving towards a point where any deviation from popular and societal norms may be considered unacceptable, and in the extreme, criminal.

    Thus, whilst, for the safety of the rest of the population (the moral majority, if you will), the permanently insane should be kept from harming others, perhaps by effective imprisonment, (or hospitalised in a secure unit as the more p.r. conscious would term it), it is for the safety of others, and not for the permanently insanes inability to understand right from wrong, or his actions, that this should occur.

    Of course, if the “permanently” insane person were then to be medicated to a point where they were no longer deemed to be insane, and such that they no longer posed a threat to society, that would then open up a whole other argument…..

  • alexander hiboux

    Further to your post of the 7th, and having taken some time to consider same, I agree that if someone were to act unlawfully in a moment of insanity, that persons temporary insanity should not absolve him of blame as to his actions, because, to return to a view expressed in my earlier post, a difference must be drawn between “temporary” and “permanent” insanity.

    If someone acts out of temporary insanity, then by definition, for the prior, and presumably post, act period, that person is in a state of sanity and as such they are aware of what is right and wrong, and thus must be aware of what could loosely be termed natural justice. Ergo, they have at sometime understood right and wrong, and presumably do so again. The fact that this was rejected for such period as to “allow” the act to happen should be no basis for a defence.

    However, if a person has always been “insane”, then that person may well have never understood the concept of right and wrong, and perhaps never will. Thus there has been no rejection of right and wrong, but rather a fundemental inability to understand the concept at any time, not just at the time of the act itself.

    The fact that the rest of society understands the concept should not be imposed upon the individual, otherwise we are moving towards a point where any deviation from popular and societal norms may be considered unacceptable, and in the extreme, criminal.

    Thus, whilst, for the safety of the rest of the population (the moral majority, if you will), the permanently insane should be kept from harming others, perhaps by effective imprisonment, (or hospitalised in a secure unit as the more p.r. conscious would term it), it is for the safety of others, and not for the permanently insanes inability to understand right from wrong, or his actions, that this should occur.

    Of course, if the “permanently” insane person were then to be medicated to a point where they were no longer deemed to be insane, and such that they no longer posed a threat to society, that would then open up a whole other argument…..

  • tom frost..

    ooo this is getting fun… ok… so if temporary insanity is no defence, because after the fact and pre the fact they knew the rights and wrongs of thier actions, then would it be morally acceptable to take a permenantly insane person with no concept of right and wrong, who had commited a crime, and give him such treatments and moral education to allow him to see clearly the error of his ways, and then try him for the crime?

    on a similar subject, whats your views on states or countries that have the death penalty, who provide medical care and treatment and delay a comdenmed mans last day until he is perfectly fit and heathly?

  • tom frost..

    ooo this is getting fun… ok… so if temporary insanity is no defence, because after the fact and pre the fact they knew the rights and wrongs of thier actions, then would it be morally acceptable to take a permenantly insane person with no concept of right and wrong, who had commited a crime, and give him such treatments and moral education to allow him to see clearly the error of his ways, and then try him for the crime?

    on a similar subject, whats your views on states or countries that have the death penalty, who provide medical care and treatment and delay a comdenmed mans last day until he is perfectly fit and heathly?

  • http://www.outsidecontext.com Basho

    Dear Mr OWL :)

    I have written a reply for you, it is rather long, so I am going to post it as a full entry mid week!

    Tom, I will give your question a go at the end of the article :)

  • http://www.outsidecontext.com/ Basho

    Dear Mr OWL :)

    I have written a reply for you, it is rather long, so I am going to post it as a full entry mid week!

    Tom, I will give your question a go at the end of the article :)

  • alexanderhiboux

    Regarding the post by Tom on 22nd January, the question of whether countries/states that have the death penalty should provide medical care and treatment to a condemned man until he is fit and healthy to be executed has to be asked within the context of why the man is being executed.

    If the person is being executed in order to ensure the safety of the public (a) why is life imprisonment insufficient, and (b) what difference does it make to the public safety if the person is executed when sick or when healthy.

    If, however, execution is being used as a form of punishment, and it is, after all, called capital punishment, then the execution of a terminally ill person could, theoretically, be seen to be an act of kindness, however unintentional! The only way to ensure that the criminal is duly “punished” therefore is to treat him in such a way that he is fit, healthy and mentally aware, whereupon the lethal injection can be administered.

    Of course, whilst logical, it does not perhaps fit in with the view of what is sensible and “right”

  • alexanderhiboux

    Regarding the post by Tom on 22nd January, the question of whether countries/states that have the death penalty should provide medical care and treatment to a condemned man until he is fit and healthy to be executed has to be asked within the context of why the man is being executed.

    If the person is being executed in order to ensure the safety of the public (a) why is life imprisonment insufficient, and (b) what difference does it make to the public safety if the person is executed when sick or when healthy.

    If, however, execution is being used as a form of punishment, and it is, after all, called capital punishment, then the execution of a terminally ill person could, theoretically, be seen to be an act of kindness, however unintentional! The only way to ensure that the criminal is duly “punished” therefore is to treat him in such a way that he is fit, healthy and mentally aware, whereupon the lethal injection can be administered.

    Of course, whilst logical, it does not perhaps fit in with the view of what is sensible and “right”

  • tom frost..

    as a final foot note on this… if you get a chance basho, read the book that the character is from.

  • tom frost..

    as a final foot note on this… if you get a chance basho, read the book that the character is from.

  • alexander hiboux

    We do seem to be making a big thing out of this. I only chose that name because I knew Tom would recognise it and no one else would. As it says “any resemblance to persons alive or dead is purely coincidental”. Wish I’d chosen another pseudonym now :)

  • alexander hiboux

    We do seem to be making a big thing out of this. I only chose that name because I knew Tom would recognise it and no one else would. As it says “any resemblance to persons alive or dead is purely coincidental”. Wish I’d chosen another pseudonym now :)

  • http://Www.outsidecontext.com/ Basho

    This is fun. Kind of like old times. All we need is a lunchtime, a copy of The Republic, a chess set and a crew of big breasted girlfriends.

    Oh well, one out of four isn’t bad.

    I have posted a large article to answer you Mr Owl. It is called, “is the insanity defence itself insane?” I hope you find it as stimulating as I have found both your points of view.

  • http://Www.outsidecontext.com Basho

    This is fun. Kind of like old times. All we need is a lunchtime, a copy of The Republic, a chess set and a crew of big breasted girlfriends.

    Oh well, one out of four isn’t bad.

    I have posted a large article to answer you Mr Owl. It is called, “is the insanity defence itself insane?” I hope you find it as stimulating as I have found both your points of view.

  • alexanderhiboux

    Oh good gravy, NO! The last thing I want is to be reminded of “old times”. A more pointless, useless, self opinionated little sh*te than me between the ages of 10 and 18 never walked the earth. People always worry about what their younger selves would think of them as adults. Frankly, all I want do is go back and slap the c*ap out of myself at that age.

    Please, lets just stick to the discussion.

  • alexanderhiboux

    Oh good gravy, NO! The last thing I want is to be reminded of “old times”. A more pointless, useless, self opinionated little sh*te than me between the ages of 10 and 18 never walked the earth. People always worry about what their younger selves would think of them as adults. Frankly, all I want do is go back and slap the c*ap out of myself at that age.

    Please, lets just stick to the discussion.

  • http://www.outsidecontext.com/ Basho

    “The past doesn’t exist, the future doesn’t exist. There is only the present, and that is the only you there is.” Alan Watts.

    Lucky for you then… :)

  • http://www.outsidecontext.com Basho

    “The past doesn’t exist, the future doesn’t exist. There is only the present, and that is the only you there is.” Alan Watts.

    Lucky for you then… :)

  • tom frost..

    hello again my litle fruit cakes… i wouldnt sweat the the nome de plume, ive used george stark as mine before and thats proper sad…

    however, on a different note… could either you or basho swap email details and then decide whether it can be passed to me? i have a diredct link to basho already but it would be nice to have one to you as well alexander…

  • tom frost..

    hello again my litle fruit cakes… i wouldnt sweat the the nome de plume, ive used george stark as mine before and thats proper sad…

    however, on a different note… could either you or basho swap email details and then decide whether it can be passed to me? i have a diredct link to basho already but it would be nice to have one to you as well alexander…

  • Sebastien Tides

    Very nice article.