Jared Diamond: “Vengeance Is Ours” In The New Yorker

Full piece here. (abstract only now, subscription required)

Diamond focuses on a young man who’s a member of the Handa clan in Papua New-Guinea.  The clan, like many others, devotes a lot of time and energy to fighting, and specifically, getting revenge.

Daniel, the young man in Diamond’s portrayal, clearly likely feels honor and a sense of pride when acting on his desire for revenge…and gets satisfaction from it as well.  Diamond argues the lack of organized religious and moral codes (largely in service of the state here in the West) don’t exist in Papua-New Guinea.

In other words, most of the reasons we don’t go revenge killing here in the States and defer (usually) to the police, the courts, or to God aren’t really in effect.

This is one of Diamond’s conclusions:

“My conversations with Daniel made me understand what we have given up by leaving justice to the state. In order to induce us to do so, state societies and their associated religions and moral codes teach us that seeking revenge is bad. But, while acting on vengeful feelings clearly needs to be discouraged, acknowledging them should be not merely permitted but encouraged.”

So let me get this straight: from our own true nature, moral codes have deferred…

feelings…natural and powerful”

…into a “cold monster” of the state?

Yet, if we invested in our feelings, wouldn’t we make the state more powerful by increasing its desire to control our feelings too?

Wait…I thought the state was bad, or un-natural?

Okay…so…according to Diamond, if we just feel enough, we’ll think clearly?

See Also: This post about David Sloan Wilson’s research.  Is a common thread between evolutionary biologists, anthropologists, and perhaps even psychologists the attempt to base morality in feeling?  Or a certain type of thoughts about feelings?

So…is Diamond an anthropologist?  It appears not.  My mistake.

Addition: So where do you look to deepen evolutionary biology and the cognitive sciences?  To Nietzsche for starters, but Jesse Prinz looks to David Hume:  Another Note On Jesse Prinz’s “Constructive Sentimentalism”Jesse Prinz Discusses “The Emotional Construction Of Morals” On Bloggingheads.More On Jesse Prinz. A Review Of “The Emotional Construction Of Morals” At Notre Dame.

Remember that as with all utterances of truth, there will be a large percentage of the population who considers these ideas not a matter of debate, but as true.

UpdatedFrom Savage Minds: More On The Lawsuit Against Jared Diamond…From The Chronicle Of Higher Education: Jared Diamond’s Lawsuit

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