Pride and Shame


One who believes in determinism may conclude that emotions like pride and shame don’t particularly make a lot of sense because anytime someone succeeds or fails it was ultimately predetermined to happen by a series of cause and effects. Regardless, I do see sense in such concepts despite having a deterministic viewpoint. Pride is often experienced when one makes a beneficial decision or achieves something satisfying. Believing that the success was predetermined does not, (and probably cannot),  entirely take away from the experience of elation when a desired achievement is attained. One can think highly of their ability to make decisions even if the result of those decisions is predtermined to occur. In fact, given my belief in determinism, it appears evident that something forces humans to succumb to pride. Some more than others, but nearly everyone experiences some form of it.    

So in conclusion, prideful emotion and arrogant states of mind can certainly be harmful, but are more often than not beneficial. Pride in itself is a motivator to achieve. Its pleasurable influence drives people to achieve it. Likewise, people seek to avoid the influence of shame. It makes sense to me that these forces are just two of the multitude of energies that drive humans to do what they do. o.




From a deterministic view point it may not make sense to lock people up for crimes they were predetermined to commit. However, I regard jail, punishment and rehabilitation as predetermined events the same as I regard the crimes as predetermined events. If someone infringes severely upon my happiness and I don’t want to face any repercussions for killing that person then the typical response is for me is to lock the person up, because I don’t want them to cause me pain. Most people empathize with the store owner who gets robbed or the man who gets shot so overtime the majority of people have banned together and written laws to prevent people from committing socially unacceptable acts.


When it comes to condemnation it’s all about responsibility. One might ask how one can be responsible for something predetermined. The truth of the matter is that belief in determinism does not deny the existence of responsibility. If a clock is broken then obviously it cannot help being broken. Now, one won't say that the entire clock is responsible for being broken, but they will say that a particular part or mechanism in the clock is responsible for it being broken. Now it's obvious that most people don't view other people the same way as a clock. Instead of laying responsibility on one fault within the person, the person as a whole is often dubbed responsible. This is partially because of the belief in free will and the lack of understanding when it comes to the human mind. Neuroscientists understand a little bit of the brain's mechanics, but not much. So for the most part a specific portion of the person's brain cannot be targetted as being responsible.

But I diverge.  Determinism dictates that everyone is forced to do what they do, but I believe that without force there is no choice and hence no action. Therefore, if someone does something I deem wrong, (such as violating the speed limit), then I believe they’re responsible for their action, but I also believe that their were forces both internal and external that caused them to do what they did. So ultimately what I believe is that in some cases people simply can't help themselves.


In order to prevent the speed limit violator from continuing to increase the risk of death and the death of others one would use their forces to stop the criminal’s activities. In this circumstance the law officer is forced to stop the criminal out of reverence for the traffic laws. People feel the need to have justification for their laws so a simple justification could be, ‘The man was breaking the speed limit and hence increasing the risk of harming himself or others which is against the law decided upon by the majority of the population.’ This reasoning then justifies fining the man or taking his licence away so that he won’t break the speed limit anymore.


There are a couple problems with this setup though. What if the man doesn’t agree with the system? What if the man simply doesn’t care about the system? The man may have a different opinion and feel that he shouldn’t be punished for the speed he was going. He may feel privy to special treatment or may feel that no one should be punished for going the speed he was going. One can attempt to persuade him to think otherwise, but in some cases people’s opinions simply cannot be changed. In this case, unless the man can persuade the government to change its laws he’s going to face the consequences for breaking them.


       Regardless of what type of government system the law serves the man will ultimately be punished. This may give incentive to the man to avoid breaking the speed limit in the future. Or, it might not. It might cause him to rebel or he may simply disregard the punishment and continue breaking the law. On the other hand, the punishment may work, but it may have harmed the man in some way. The man may be obedient, but unhappy. Which is fine for everybody else, but not the man.

          Not everyone is compelled to break the speed limit, but this man was. Some people feel scared or guilty when they break the speed limit, but this man wasn’t. Some people like breaking the speed limit, but reach the conclusion that it isn’t worth the risk to do so. This man didn’t reach that conclusion. What I'm getting at is the man may simply be different in a way that is not accepted by society and that can cause harm to society and it can cause harm to the man. It's essentially two forces opposing one another. The greater force can either destroy the other, (execution) or restrain it, (prison). But is there another way?

         Without knowing how the clock works one cannot fix it. Humans are complex and difficult to understand. Some people are driven to harm others and take pleasure in pain and for the majoriy of poeple that are against such actions there is no choice but to do something about the violent and sadistic. But perhaps the solution doesn't have to be so cruddy for the offender. Perhaps as neuroscience further develops humanity will gain the ability to change people in a way that's both positive for the person and for everybody else. Medications today are already doing just that. Assisting with neurological disorders and chemical imbalances. Perhaps one day we'll be able to change people's very will.


To conclude, the belief in determinism doesn’t force one to believe that a criminal shouldn’t be punished for their actions. Such a conclusion requires a considerable amount of sympathy for the criminal. Determinism merely provokes one to perceive the concept of law breaking differently. People are responsible for the laws they break, but in some cases can’t help breaking them. Some upholders of the law really don’t care. For them it’s as cut and dry as ‘if you don’t do what the law says then I am justified in quarantining you from the general population.’ For others the moral dilemma isn’t quite so simple.