What Is Violence?

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

- Martin Luther King Jr., "Where do we go from here: Chaos or community?" (1967)

Podcast of the Day

Is the world getting less violent? It seems unlikely. But Steven Pinker has amassed empirical evidence to show that it is. In this interview with Nigel Warburton for the Social Science Bites podcast he explains some of the possible causes of this transformation. He also discusses some broader questions about the nature of the social sciences. 

Listen to Steven Pinker on Violence and Human Nature

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

...First, violence cannot be reduced to an isolated act that could be justified with reference to some conception or principle of justice. Here I borrow a line of thought from the historian and cultural theorist Robert Young when he writes that violence “is a phenomenon that has a history.” Violence is not so much a question of a single act that breaks a supposed continuum of nonviolence or peace. Rather, violence is best understood as a historical cycle of violence and counterviolence. In other words, violence is not one but two. It is a double act that traps human beings in a repetitive pattern from which it is very hard to escape. Violence, especially political violence, is usually a pattern of aggression and counteraggression that has a history and which stretches back deep into time...

Continue reading Brad Evans and Simon Critchley's article: The Theater of Violence

Further Reading

Violence is defined by the World Health Organization as "the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation", although the group acknowledges that the inclusion of "the use of power" in its definition expands on the conventional understanding of the word. This definition involves intentionality with the committing of the act itself, irrespective of the outcome it produces. However, generally, anything that is excited in an injurious or damaging way may be described as violent even if not meant to be violence (by a person and against a person).

Continue reading the Wikipedia article on Violence

Related Topics

AngerHate | Power | Punishment | Revolution

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