The logical impossibility, and the moral untenability, of forgiveness

Wednesday, 17 September, Year 6 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

There's an older Romanian quotei which goes like this :

I've never forgiven anyone. I have no intention to start. I punished always, destructively, humiliatingly, with specific cruelty. It is true that in some cases I had to wait months, years, decades until such was convenient, but I honestly tell you, for a Scorpio this interval is pure joy and no sort of inconvenient.

The punishment part has a whole article dedicated to it, published a year later, October 26th 2011ii. Let's translate it :

    Me : so basically tonight is eu summit. teh germanz are threatening to invade greece
    Her : srsly? wow
    Me : sort of. im kinda in favour.
    Her : were you ever not in favor of an invasion?
    Me : i think the best thing for the present crisis is the wholesale arrest of all greeks and forced labour for a year. dispersed all over europe. that'll solve problems for at least 50 years.
    Her : just greeks?
    Me : yea.
    Her : they fucked up, everyone else did right?
    Me : yea. effective punishment is impredictible, disproportionate and visible.
    Her : a principle i recognize in practice if not verbiage

The miss knows what I'm talking of, given that she's been the teary eyed beneficiary of the principle in question a number of times. In order to be efficient, punishment must be unpredictable, so as to always take the guilty party unprepared, disproportionate, so as to always overrun his compensatory resources, making insurance against punishment impractical, and visibile, to serve as well for all the others, the guilty unpunished this time, as a clear point of proof that a) their turn will come ; b) it will be in most inconvenient circumstances and c) will be more expensive than it's worth.iii

The aberrations of the humanitaro-socialistoid state, with punishment "that fits the crime", "civilised" treatment of infractors and so on and so forth do nothing but create antisocial behaviour in society, because they encourage the apparition and sustain the development of a class of individuals who perpetually negotiate the moment and the degree of their punishment so as for it to be tolerable.iv The Gypsyv steals not because that's what he is, a thief, but because that's what he is, clever. As such, he considers the risks and the benefits of theft. Will he be forced to play the gay whore two years on a dry bread and warm water diet ? O, no ? Are they cutting his hand off ? A, neither ? But what ? A, he'll be politely asked to go further down the streetvi ? O noes! Well... it's worth it innit ?

Yes, it's worth it. And then, this'd be the problem : a society incapable of introducing and managing a punishment distribution system that is unpredictable, disproportionate and visible can't possibly function.vii

A, on short intervals, for as long as an economic boom lasts making everyone too busy to make money of course the farmersviii making a killing can tolerate "being suckers". For as long as that suckery consists in nothing much it's not even worth bothering with ; the pennies the guys in question are stealing while you're getting the heavy pounds rolling in don't manage to register. But once the boom is over, reality comes back to haunt : either unpredictable, disproportionate and visible punishment, or the dissolution of society.

I'm for the former. It remains to be seen if the "leaders" of various descriptions will have enough blood in circulation to save their own construction.

Now thus armed, let's consider some practical matters. First off, it is entirely irrelevant how guilt is defined.

Let that sink in for a minute, because it's no small matter. You may subscribe to a system of thought which creates guilt out of forcing a woman into sexual relations. This on the face of it increases the probability of your skin being white, and decreases the probability of you speaking Arabic. That's all it does. Alternatively, you may subscribe to a system which creates guilt out of having sex at all. This increases the chances of your sporting having that sexy Irish accent, and decreases the chances of your being capable to give a passible definition of Kali. You could be a Five Family boss, seeing guilt where people speak out of line, or a beach bum creating guilt out of "that's not cool, man". Regardless of any of that, and regardless of the perceived validity or the objective consistency of the moral system you put forth, guilt is still the same thing all through. For an easy analogy, an Abrams tank is an Abrams tank, whether the US army, the US puppet government's in Iraq army or ISIS uses it. The tank is what it is, a mechanism, working in certain ways upon certain inputs. Guilt is exactly the same, pecunia non olet, culpa non identificat. That's that.

Second off, the mechanism of punishment, properly defined, is whatever happens after guilt. That's it.

Let that also sink in for a minute, because it's also no small matterix. Punishment doesn't "aim to" anything and is not "intended to" anything anymore than the car aims to take you to McDonalds and is intended to make you fat. Items are incapable of agency, and as such necessarily incapable of either goal or purpose. Items just are, that's all.

To put the matter in perspective : reality is a succession of phenomena. This phenomenologic chain started long long ago, through supposedly an explosion, and will keep going for a long long time, until it ends through supposedly the realisation of universal peace and happinessx. Guilt is the process through which some of these phenomena are selected for attention, for whatever reason, through whatever criteria, we don't care nor does it make a whit of difference. Punishment is what happens after that.

And now armed with this powerful intellectual framework, let's imagine what forgiveness might be.

A. Forgiveness as divine intervention. Supposedly, after an agent starts a chain of phenomena, that same agent starts a different chain of phenomena which has as a result manifest activity of the divinity. Leaving aside the sheer ridiculousness of this proposition on the face of it, the practice of Bitcoin gives the common man direct access to a tool that'd help him understand why reality can't work this way. Specifically, what's the difference between this sort of forgiveness and a doublespend oracle (ie, some authority that arbitrarily decides which doublespent transaction to confirm) ? If you understand why Bitcoin couldn't work with a doublespend oracle present, you also understand why reality can't work with a forgiving god present. Congratulations, you've finally made it to the level of goat herders in the golden crescent circa three millenia ago. Well done!

B. Forgiveness as an act of will. So Billy hits you one across the head. And you forgive him, as an act of will, which means you sit down and think really hard about how what happened didn't really happen and its effects don't really exist. I suppose it's a grandiose pastime, if you swing that way, but it leaves the public wondering why someone as great as yourself and beset by delusions of divinity to boot would bother with anything whatsoever. Why learn to read in the first place, just sit down and think really hard about how you can read already. And all the consequences of you thinking you can read when you can't didn't really happen nor will they ever. What's the problem ?xi

All the multiple facets of this naive, infantile approach to reality work exactly the same way and fail for exactly the same reason : because they're infantile derpage. Oh, so you sit down and think really hard not about how what happened didn't actually happen, but about how you don't care that it did happen ? Bully for you, so same about learning to read. Why learn to read when you could just not care you can't read ? Why eat when you could just not care you're hungry ?

Oh, you're a special divine agent and as such you get to arbitrarily pick and choose your way out of logical impossibility ? Good for you and welcome to moral hazard, if you simply pick and choose what to forgive rather than applying some sort of rule you're Billy. And while punishment disguised as forgiveness on a purely linguistic level has an ancient history with many great moments, from Arbeit Macht Frei to Fantozzi riassunto come parafulmine, we're not here to talk words, we're here to talk things.

C. Forgiveness as a transaction. This is the most common use of the term. The way it works is that whenever any agent starts a chain of phenomena, all other agents get a token named for the block index where the chain started. Then as the unidirectional flow of time as a proxy for entropy as a proxy for blockchain height progresses, the effects of the agent's activity on all other agents is calculated by some sort of utility function, creating the simultaneous obligation on the part of the agent to compensate the others for lost value, and on the part of the others to give the agent their gained value, as per a mute doctrine of "absolute agency", wherein the agent is assigned all the effects of his activity irrespective upon whom they may fall.

This is nonsense of the first degree, because the agent (being an agent, rather than a puppet of the entire system's designer) will only play when there's a benefit to be had. Take the case dearest to the heart of the puritan, the repenting sinner. So, at point A the sinner not yet repentant, went and I dunno, fornicated. For which he had some trouble, taking him to point B, where he honestly no longer wishes to fornicate. At this point he wants to offer in token his present nature - the him no longer inclined to fornicate - as an exchange for something else : the fornication of him so inclined. Well what sort of a bullshit deal is this, you trade something you no longer want for something you wanted ?! Fuck you, how about that! The guy that steals a hundred for you, bets it at the track and wins through this process ten grand doesn't owe you a hundred and interest. He'd have owed you a hundred and interest had he lost, but since he won he owes you ten grand. And interest.xii

That much for the exchange initiated by the guilty : no sale. As far as the exchange initiated from outside, it could either be initiated by another agent directly interested (sometimes called "the victim"), in which case forgiveness as a transaction becomes punishment and we're playing with words again, or else by a third party interested in some third goal (such as preserving "the decorum"), in which case we're simply seeing a further act initiating further guilt, for which the third party will sooner or later hang, either at the hands of the original guilty agent, or of his victim, or them both, or if not a further third party, interested in preserving a different definition of decorum.xiii

The only possible resolution to the problem of guilt has absolutely nothing to do with an imaginary "forgiveness". The only possible resolution of the problem of guilt is merging agency, which is fundamentally why marriagexiv is the proposed solution to rape in more philosophically advanced if technologically backward societies, whereas murder of the victim is the practiced solution to rape in more legally advanced if politically backward societies. Just as long as the difference of agency is extinguished somehow, the problem is resolved.

In conclusion : only sin against your food, you'll be fine. Which, if you're paying attention, is exactly what animals have been doing, since forever.

———
  1. in Eu nu, which works like a joint "I've never" and "I wouldn't" and so forth. []
  2. Arta Pedepsirii, The Art Of Punishment. The date is only relevant to anchor political discussions in the text. []
  3. Complementary reading for this principle : Georg Ritter von Flondor, and what his unhappy life can teach us and remember : you are more than free to treat your life as if it were a joke. If you do, it probably will end up being a joke. I promise I'll laugh at the end. []
  4. For a good example, if only theoretical, of this concept, review Un prophete. Some kid gets six years for brawling, serves four and comes out of prison a criminal king pin. Herp. []
  5. As the text was originally in Romanian, the Gypsy gets to be the universal spook. You probably wish to replace with whatever group is identified as the official scapegoat in your own community - in the end it makes little difference. []
  6. The original reference is an article discussing that famous case of home invasion in the UK back in 2011 when some woman working for their immigration office came home from vacationing to find a family had taken over her house. No arrests were made. The pics are pretty lol. []
  7. Not that the alternative necessarily can. To put this in perspective, a car trying to burn incombustible liquids can't possibly ever work. This doesn't mean every fuel bomb is actually a car. []
  8. Jaful si Economia was linked for details []
  9. Not because of anything to do with them, either in the case of guilt or punishment, but strictly because of all the gunk you've collected on your brain listening to various people parroting various other people's agendas, and by people I mostly mean old women in this context. Odds are by the time you're capable to read you've had so many layers of shit on your eyes, drying and caking and being replenished out of crinkly old assholes doing doodoo all over your face it's not even funny. []
  10. Kelvin's idea of the thermic death of the universe neatly fits with the only viable representation of universal peace and happiness, an observation closely mirroring Poincarre's point that "the best, most direct way to prevent human suffering is to just kill everyone". Various religious representation of the same thing fail to differ significantly, even if they employ masses of words for that uninspiring effect. []
  11. One sees so much of this in the various Bitcoin experts out there it's almost an in joke by now. []
  12. Unless he can satisfactory prove you'd never have bet it yourself had he not stolen it from you, in which case, he gets agency rate, 15%. []
  13. Which brings us straight back to the Georg Flondor discussion, doesn't it. []
  14. Understood, of course, as female slavery. []
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10 Responses

  1. Marriage as a solution to rape is irrational. In this you punish both the victim and the prepatrator. As a predictable consequence for the prepatator it likely serves as even less deterence than telling the gypsy to move along.
    (She won't marry you? Easy to fix, rape her.)
    Of course I guess it still beats 'punish the victim' mentality prevalent in many places.

  2. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    2
    Mircea Popescu 
    Thursday, 18 September 2014

    For one thing it's not that easy a fix. In those cultures the woman doesn't go about on her own, you'd have to get past the males in her family. If you manage that as far as the internal logic goes, rape is a godsend, gets her out of derpfamily.

    There's no such thing as "rational" unless one proceeds on sound basis. There is never going to be such basis in the softies (which includes politics, sociology, psychology and law) for which reason social sciences aren't sciences and the conceit of rationality in human affairs a conceit.

  3. Lets punish the trees for blowing in the wind, how dare they!

  4. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    4
    Mircea Popescu 
    Thursday, 18 September 2014

    Seems that way. http://www.boston.com/yourtown/news/arlington/2012/07/arlington_crews_cleaning_up_in.html

  5. Specifically, what's the difference between this sort of forgiveness and a doublespend oracle (ie, some authority that arbitrarily decides which doublespent transaction to confirm) ? If you understand why Bitcoin couldn't work with a doublespend oracle present, you also understand why reality can't work with a forgiving god present.

    Doesn't it? Until one of the transactions is included in a valid block, any miner can include any one of them he feels like, for any arbitrary reason. And to answer your question, the difference is that God is God, and bitcoin is His creation. Nothing is impossible with God; (Luke 1:36-37) not even the forgiveness of a sin that He caused someone to commit in the first place.

    Oh, so you sit down and think really hard not about how what happened didn't actually happen, but about how you don't care that it did happen ?

    Forgiveness is more akin to not thinking about it, and not because you don't care (or wish you didn't for that matter), but because you cannot be forgiven (by God and accepted into His kingdom) if you do not also forgive. (Mark 11:25-26)

    Oh, you're a special divine agent and as such you get to arbitrarily pick and choose your way out of logical impossibility ? Good for you and welcome to moral hazard, if you simply pick and choose what to forgive rather than applying some sort of rule you're Billy.

    What moral hazard? God sets the rules. He says what is moral. Not only did He create the man who would question this, but He put the question in the man's mouth. (Romans 9:19-20)

    At this point he wants to offer in token his present nature - the him no longer inclined to fornicate - as an exchange for something else : the fornication of him so inclined. Well what sort of a bullshit deal is this, you trade something you no longer want for something you wanted ?!

    Is that not all trade? Why should anyone trade something they want for something that they do not want? It's just that God's forgiveness is the kind of something that the alert reader should gladly trade "all that he has" in order to acquire. (Matthew 13:45-46)

  6. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    6
    Mircea Popescu 
    Monday, 24 August 2015

    > Until one of the transactions is included in a valid block

    But for reality that's a very low bar. Yes, an "action" that has no sort of reprecussions whatsoever could be "forgiven" as it was included in no block. Nevertheless, even leaving aside that this is specifically not what action means (this is how you distinguish the category of action from the category of thought), it is pointedly not what forgiven means. You can only forgive someone for something that to some degree and in some manner affects something, if not you directly nevertheless something.

    > Nothing is impossible with God

    What is possible or impossible in that context is not a proper subject of concern for anyone but the god in question. I have enough problems as is, without importing problems of trasncendental scope.

    > because you cannot be

    I have no teleological interest whatsoever. My actions stem from causes strictly, and show no interest in purposes. Whether anyone can or can not "forgive" them is entirely their problem, and wholly an uninteresting consideration to me. Let them figure it out on their own and wash their head with it.

    > God sets the rules. He says what is moral.

    No body of rules may be interpreted to mean something self-contradictory. If no interpretation that's not self contradictory can be had, then no interpretation will be had at all.

    > Is that not all trade?

    If the trade proceeds between two individual, distinct agents, then yes, and it's fine. If the trade happens all in one's own head, then no.

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