Vengeance: The Half Hidden Pillager of Our Lives

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Abstract

Vengeance is presented as a destructive, deeply rooted, human tendency to punish without limit those who arouse the sense of injustice. Retribution is distinguished from it principally by being measured out in proportion to the wrong felt, though the two are often fused in individual and corporate life. Vengeance is viewed as rooted in infantile mourning for the felt loss of the mothering figure, but significantly developed through experiences of shame. Retribution, sometimes not distinguished from vengeance, is defended by some sophisticated ethical and legal theorists. Christianity has had a mitigating effect upon vengeance, but further remedies need to be found. Symbolic acts of public reparation at monuments may be one such remedy.

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