So how convoluted is this game. #Breivik, as tweeted by @TrygveSorvaag
#Breivik sent a very clear message directly to judges.
Saying he will not appeal if he is declared ‘of sound mind’.
Personally as you know, I believe for future good of rationality, he should be declared insane (*), even if the psychiatrists fail to identify a treatable disorder – in fact especially if that is the case. His only therapy may be to grow up and become wiser in captivity – but captivity it must be. But is he playing double-double-double-bluff in terms of his own desired outcome?
[(*) Post Note – mustn’t fall into the same “simplistication” trap as all the journo’s. When I say insane I mean to say mentally ill, suffering from a mental disorder or two. My own thrust is that his hyper-rationality, and ability to selectively suppress human empathy, suggests autism / Asperger’s, as some witnesses have also since suggested. There are of course other delusional / paranoid / narcissistic disorders. Sanity is not a single black and white issue. And just to be clear, my focus on the autistic tendency of “hyper-rationalism” is nothing to do with whether he is given / offered / accepts treatment – so long as he’s incarcerated – but with wider recognition of the wider lack of sanity.
My logic on his sentence would be this : He has recognisable mental disorders. He shares these disorders with many of us whose behaviour does not incite or commit acts of criminal violence. He is criminally responsible for 77 murders and a lot more, justified and rationalised by him by his lack of (totally) sound mind. He is guilty and not of sound mind. Where’s the problem?]
@Quoriana Does it matter whether #Breivik is insane or just plain evil. This piece questions why the focus on this question.
I sympathise with the question. And having lived and worked in Norway for several years, I sympathise with the Norwegian mentality too. I know why this is an interesting question for my rationality agenda, but I agree it’s a moot point in terms of actual behaviour and practical outcomes in the case. (I don’t know anything about “World Mathaba” so I’m commenting here rather than register to comment there.)
Insane or evil, a guilty verdict declares his behaviour unacceptable to society, and whatever the technicalities of the sentence (I would hope) either ensures his separation from society for life. In that sense any future similar behaviour, for either reason, is marked as unacceptable.
The reason it matters is to do with justification and causes – rationalisation – of similar behaviours, and freedoms to hold and express those causes, not just act out behaviours based on those causes. Like it or not, and the Bin Laden case cited is a good example, most terrorist behaviour arises from some cause perceived as legitimate by more than the perpetrator. The terrorist action and the active promotion of such action is criminal even if the original perceived injustice has a valid historical basis. The difference between Gandhi and Bin Laden – passive protest vs active terrorism. Even active criminal terrorists associated with valid causes (but with sane outcomes) become socially re-habilitated – Neslon Mandela, Gerry Adams, Martin McGinnis, Che Guevara.
Breivik is insane for clear reasons. His rationalization of conspiracy theories concerning European Islamification as some grievance against himself and “his people”; his rationalization of his own views and actions as some “Templar” organized conspiracy as a fight against it; his continued inhuman rationalization of his actions justified by the above conspiracies, not just to “psyche himself up” to engage in the initial atrocity (common say amongst suicide terrorists), but to continue it consciously through the entire event and through his defence thereafter. Total rational insanity. To be that rational is inhuman, humanly insane. Anyone using freedom of expression to support similar arguments in future should also be declared insane, before such acts are committed. That’s why it matters.
Reading Jonathan Haidt’s “The Righteous Mind” after enjoying his “Happiness Hypothesis“. (Also just finished Umberto Eco’s “The Prague Cemetery“)
Given the current high profile of the #Breivik case, Haidt’s work is a very important piece on the rationalist delusion, being 100% rational is absolutely not sane for a human – in fact it’s a good definition of a psychopath – the same mental illness the scientistic suffer from. (Haidt is a good read, a balance between Plato and Hume, much of his intro refers to his recent Happiness Hypothesis. Yet again, I can’t believe Haidt doesn’t refer to Ian McGilchrist’s “Master and Emissary” view of evolved brain functioning – both halves are intelligent and capable, the balance of power is a complex interplay, one gives the illusion of being in charge, the rider on the elephant, but neither is in fact slave to the other. Haidt’s equivalent is effectively Lawyer and Diplomat. Intuitions and emotions are not some “bugs” in an otherwise rational system, etc …)
Eco’s latest prize-nominated piece is very similar in based-on-historical-fact-style to Foucault’s Pendulum and The Name of The Rose before that. Not just a Knights Templar (#Breivik again) conspiracy this time, but the conspiracy of conspiracy theories – Jews, Catholics, Jews, Masons, Jews, Protestants, Jews, Antichristians & Devil worshippers, Jews, Black-magicians, Jews, Pagans, Jews, Virgin-sex cultists, Jews, Jesuits, and more Jews from The Prague Cemetery, but no Islamists oddly ? Witty and erudite enough to pull off what could be offensive to many.
His argument was “entirely logical”. There was
“not the slightest possibility I will be judged insane”.
Well I’ve got news for him, being entirely logical is insane …. for a human.
If Breivik is considered sane, then I really don’t know what insanity is any more.
His guilt – as in personal responsibility for the events – is not in doubt, through ample witnesses as well as his own admission, not to mention plenty of published pre-meditation and planning. Why give him a trial platform to publicly justify his evil ? Surely best all round if he is simply incarcerated in a secure mental institution; humane, sure; therapeutic, sure; but denied social rights for 77 life sentences.
It’s a species of scientistic political correctness that maintains that technically, by objective rational analysis, he’s somehow to be considered sane by a rationally sane (ie insane) society.
That smirk on his face. What am I missing ? I know it, and I’m sure he knows it too.