The Epistemology of Murder, continued

Murder, She Wrote, continued

The Epistemology of Murder, continued

“Except perhaps in the fifth stage, murder is almost always the result of a misevaluation, since the murderer normally acts upon a set of assumptions about reality that are not adequate to encompass his situation. … The failure is different at each stage of man’s psychological and spiritual evolution, but it is always a failure.”

In the first stage, the murderer takes his sensations and feelings as an accurate revelation of what the world is like. He is blind to the rest of the information potentially available regarding the situation. In the second stage, “The order of the world is made subject to a set of categories” and, “as Korzybski pointed out, all abstractions necessarily leave out important characteristics….” He also is missing out on most of the information that would otherwise inform his actions. “The notion of abstract honor belongs to this level of awareness.” People are not people, just abstracions; a whore, a Jew, an “other” subject to the murderer’s private set of moral categories and the actions which they demand.

In the third level of awareness, the relational stage, men are not so much depended on words (i.e., categorical thinking) as on facts, although now limited by the erroneous belief that there is “a final truth” which may be discovered. And as Zen teaches us, “The true word cannot be spoken.” The closest we can come to it is an illusion of objectivity. “Applied to people, this orientation … leads to simplistic social solutions that depend on the elimination of ‘undesirable elements.’ … When the act of murder is committed in this frame of reference, it is frequently with some greater good in mind.” – as in political assasinations or Hitler’s program to eliminate the Jews.

“The act of murder is probably unthinkable to someone who is fully functioning at stage four.   Since his pictures of other people are dynamic and provisional, he is not likely to build up enough hostility to want to destroy someone else. … He would find other ways to alter the network of relationships and to restore harmony.”   The flip side of this level of awareness, however, is the possibility of seeing the moral guidelines of the past as “semantic fossils, arbitrary principles that have no power once men no longer believe in them.” It is here that we find those who consider themselves “supermen,” who consider themselves above the laws that govern the herd, free from the constraints of society’s norms.

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