I’m just reading a review copy of Steven Pinker’s (excellent) new book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.
This section, on how moral motivation is over-rated as a control on violence, just made me laugh out loud.
The human moral sense can excuse any atrocity in the minds of those who commit them, and it furnishes them with motives for acts of violence that bring them no tangible benefit. The torture of heretics and conversos, the burning of witches, the imprisonment of homosexuals, and the honor killing of unchaste sisters and daughters are just a few examples. The incalculable suffering that has been visited on the world by people motivated by a moral cause is enough to make one sympathize with the comedian George Carlin when he said “I think motivation is overrated. You show me some lazy prick who’s lying around all day watching game shows and stroking his penis and I’ll show you someone who’s not causing any fucking trouble!”
Link to more information on the book.
An amazing picture that takes pride of place on the cover of this month’s British Journal of Psychiatry by artist George Harding.
The piece has the wonderful name of Everything is Real Except God and Death.
From the description in the BJP:
The artist writes: `I used to get art lessons when I was a small boy from a next-door neighbour who inspired me, and art has been my passion ever since. `I did my foundation at Camberwell and graduated from Chelsea College of Art and Design in fine art in 2007. I now have a studio in Southwark, London, where I work and live.
`Art to me is emotive and is a way of coping with life and my mental illness. It is also something that guides me, something that I can rely upon and excel in. `The painting is explained by its title. The image speaks of the delusions, paranoia and imaginary beliefs that envelop a person when smoking cannabis. The image came together by making a collage of specific symbols and signs, which was then altered through painting. The figure featured in the work is after Henry Wallis’s painting in 1856 called The Death of Chatterton, a poet.
You can see more of artist George Harding’s amazing work as his website.