Stephen J. Dubner
02/11/2013 | 9:02 am
… when you see a byline like this:
The article, full of revealing and chilling detail, is here.
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I cannot help but wonder what the sociologists, Max Weber and Emile Durkheim would have to say about the fighting and particularly about the suicidal thoughts suggested in this article? Would they be at odds or in agreement as to how real justice … might be served in a way that both sides can agree upon even if only a bit and at least to the point where the in- fighting stops and some peace and tranquility is restored to the region i.e., contractually by an agreement freely entered into by all parties.
I refer here to Durkheim’s discussion of Suicide. p. 219 in his book. There Durkheim acknowledged that Suicide is “very common” but not so common to be thought of as commonplace “among primitive peoples.” Durkheim does not define “primitive” here and I do not have the time to research the matter, but my guess is that he means people so unaware of themselves generally speaking as to be ignorant as to what their actions reveal about them as a whole. In other words, if they really knew, they might not (kill themselves) Durkheim includes among primitive peoples the “suicides of followers or servants on the death of their chiefs.” As he explained it, “now, when a person kills himself, in all these cases, it is (generally) not because he assumes the righyt to do so but, on the contrary, because it is his duty. If he fails in this obligation, he is dishonored and also punished, usually by religious sanctions.” Would this not mean that if such a person does not kill himself under such circumstances, that it is because he recognizes a stronger obligation to family and to self and perhaps even to his country to fight on in a mature manner that expresses the leadership potential of which all individuals are capable.
I now refer to Weber’s “Ancient Judaism,” p. 246. Weber acknowledges that there has been “much controversy” concerning the question of whether or not in the case of Israel “fear” has been “the decisive motive of moral conduct” in the sense that he admits that not all of the discussion has been controversial and some of it such that the different sides can agree upon. Weber goes on to point out that “it is quite” but not altogether correct that the ethical perspective of Jews before they were exiled had “developed under the pressure of fear” of the sort that verges on “war psychosis in view of the frightful wars of the great conquering empires.” Did he not leave out the fact that such wars were not so great as to unleash the destructive potential of which they were capable and thus left to be inferred that “the basic mood of the Deuteronomic circle” which ” was the conviction that only a divine miracle , not human power, could bring salvation” was an acquired interest in order and in the bit of understanding what it would take for the fighting to stop.
Thus, looking back, is this not what these few people had in mind to accomplish as far as a bit of understanding that they shared in common.
I hope that this helps. That story of a man hoping to see his family again and not minding dying thereafter just got to me.
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