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Andrea Borghini

The Sandy Hook Shooting, Education, and the Philosophy of Violence

By December 30, 2012

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The fourteen minutes between 9:35am-9:49am of December 14th 2012 will be remembered as a tragic moment in the history of the United States and another sad episode in the history of shootings. My very first reaction, I confess, was to think that in the U.S., even more so in New England, we may boast the most prestigious educational institutions; but when someone, repeatedly, arrives at putting into effect a plan for killing dozens of civilians, including kids and young adults, that means that the overall educational system, despite its high points, has failed. Still, I waited a few days before talking about the event here: there is a time for mourning, a time for pondering, and a time for discussing.

A shooting is a form of violence, that elicits all sorts of philosophical questions. Why are humans violent?; Can violence ever be just?, as when someone uses a weapon for self-defense?; Why are some humans violent against themselves? and is it a sin?

I have now written a host of articles on the topic of violence, starting from the distinction between physical, psychological, and verbal violence. But I also regard as key to reflect on what is coercion and how coercion is linked to violence, in order to be able to appreciate the different components that may lead to violent behaviors.

In the end, the usual question comes up: can a human society ever be wholly non-violent, or is pacifism destined to remain a wonderful ethical mirage?


January 29, 2013 at 1:13 am
(1) Raghunath Awachar says:

Human society can not be totally violence free unless nations and socities and religious communities agree in bringing peace and love everywhere. Individuals need need learn to love and honour of everybody around.

January 29, 2013 at 3:47 am
(2) K.G.Parthasarathy says:

Violence as such is not new to human society. Individual fightings, tribal fightings, war among nations, religious fightings form part of human history. There is no surprise in violent behaviour. But the violence of individuals without any cause against the victims is worrisome. It must be related to the behavior of the individual. It relates to psychology and so the psychologists will have to ponder over this and find reasons and solutions.

January 29, 2013 at 6:00 am
(3) Sn says:

I believe that violence is embedded in human. It may or may not be reflected on behaviors especially through actions. The causes of the violence crime could be minor violence that we have never thought of. For example, verbal violence happens so often that we, ourselves, may not realize. I cannot deny that some jokes or mocking are enjoyable, though they might cause someone’s pain. This negligence may lead to something that is a kind of violent reaction.

March 18, 2013 at 4:31 pm
(4) Stephen Mann says:

The problems we’ve had with gun violence are based upon a sense of powerlessness many have in response to crime, isolation, purposelessness, poverty, etc.- to the void modernity creates in society. The usual solution to negativety such as gun violence, substance abuse, and other anti-social behaviors is to pass laws against them and then to pay “enforcers” to protect the public from “criminals”. But such idealism can only “solve” social negativity with more.

Such emptiness can’t be resolved except through a restoration of community in which citizens have roles and receive just compensations for fulfilling them. Ants, bees, and termites are examples of the intense socialization modern life requires for collective survival. This can’t be achieved by passing laws against personal habits and possessions. When people feel they get what they need to survive from their societies, they will protect it instead of destroying it.

April 8, 2013 at 6:16 pm
(5) Jim says:

I think it is disgusting that these people are using the precious memories of these innocent children to advance their own agenda for gun control. They should be ashamed of themselves.

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