Murder and Terrorism

Murder, She Wrote, continued

Murder and Terrorism

I told you earlier (May 9, 2014) that we had developed a questionnaire to measure the development of moral reasoning and that, when we administered that questionnaire to both inmates and staff, none of the staff scored below Stage 4 (Law and Order morality, characterized by respect for legal authority) and none of the inmates scored above Stage 3 (Good-Boy/Good-Girl morality, in which action is motivated by the desire for approval and the avoidance of disapproval). There was no overlap at all! My guess is that would-be terrorists are functioning at Stage 3 of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and that their “radicalization” represents an attempt to feel accepted by others whom they perceive to be like themselves.

In parallel with the above and as mentioned earlier, Washburn (The Epistemology of Murder) discussed Samuel Bois’ five stages in man’s epistemological evolution: the primitive, the classifying, the relational, the postulational, and the participatory. In the first stage, the murderer takes his sensations and feelings as an accurate revelation of what the world is like. 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….” “The notion of abstract honor belongs to this level of awareness.” People are not people, just abstractions; 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 assassinations or Hitler’s program to eliminate the Jews.   The radicalization of these
marginalized “lost souls” seems likely to also be dependent on their functioning within one (or more) of these three stages of epistemological evolution.

How might that be, you may ask. I expect that the answer to that question, and a partial solution to the problem of radicalization lies within the criminality and addictions research, some of which has been reported in earlier postings.

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