Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Cows of Logic


A scene from Delhi.  Source: The Hindu

In his book, The Rebel, Albert Camus speaks about two types of crimes: crimes of passion and crimes of logic.  Heathcliff of the Wuthering Heights will kill anyone who stands between him and his beloved Cathy.  This is a crime of passion.  He is motivated by his passion, and his passion is genuine. Camus calls him a man of character.  As long as you don’t get in the way of his love, he won’t touch you.  He won’t even notice your existence, in fact.  You are nothing to him.  All that matters to him is his love, his Cathy, nothing else.

Now, suppose Heathcliff converts his passion into a doctrine.  Suppose he begins to believe that Cathy is worthy of everybody’s admiration.  Suppose he asks all the people around him to venerate Cathy.  He can make a religion or a doctrine out of his love for Cathy.  He can build up a whole theology around his love.  He may get some supporters too.  He can get those supporters to drag out from home anyone who refuses to pay homage to Cathy and then lynch him on the street for the sake of Cathytva.  This is crime of reason.

Crimes of reason are very dangerous, argues Camus.  We can multiply reasons for anything and crimes will multiply proportionately.  Millions of people were killed in the past for the sake of doctrines that sounded very logical to some people.  Crusades and Jihads are examples.  Hitler had clear reasons for eliminating six million Jews.  Every dictator had clear reasons for committing innumerable murders. 

There’s only one problem with the reasoning of these rational murderers.  The very first premises of their syllogisms are wrong.  For example, Hitler’s logic rested on his basic premise about the superiority of the Aryan race.  It was an absolutely false claim.  As false as Heathcliff’s demand that everyone should share his passion for Cathy.  But Heathcliff’s love was genuine. 

Suppose the newfound love of some people in India for the cow was genuine, would there be so much sound and fury in the name of that meek creature?  We can be sure of one thing at least.  If the love was genuine, there wouldn’t have been so many cows roaming the roads of a city like Delhi where the gau matas feed on the garbage thrown in dumping lots. 




10 comments:

  1. Heathcliff couldn't turn his crime of passion into a crime of logic as he was truly in love with Cathy. But today he has turned into a foolhardy and Cathy, into a cow. So the change is obvious-- Love into hatred.
    Very inspiring post.

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    1. Yes, we are inverting things in wrong directions. There is no religion here. No love for anyone. Just games, political games and a lot of airy rhetoric!

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  2. Yes, there is a difference between love and mind-games. What we see today is a well-contrived dogmatic approach to things. Heathcliff's passion was far superior and pristine. A very very interesting post Sir.

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    1. We are giving to God what is not his. We are giving him our integrity.

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    2. What makes you say that? Could you explain it a bit?

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    3. The present controversies surrounding issues of tolerance, for example. If we were honest would we support intolerance? Is our govt honest? Why does it involve religion in nefarious political games? Why don't more people come forward to protest intolerances?

      Answer: we have involved our gods in our silly political games...

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  3. Totally a different topic.
    Rapists who do their job neatly and murder women, what type crime is that? I want to know.

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    1. Passion, no doubt. But passion directed AGAINST another person or persons. Hence crime. Heathcliff's passion was love. His passion would be directed against another only if the other stood in the way of his primary passion...

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