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IlHAM DiLMAN SOCRATES AND DOSTOYEVSKY ON PUNISHMENT In the Gorgias Socrates and Polus discuss the question: Is to do wrong and get away scot free worse than to do wrong and to be punished? Socrates holds that it is, and Polus disagrees. Furthermore, Polus believes that punishment is a misfortune, whereas Socrates believes punishment is a blessing. Both, however, agree that punishment can be painful and Socrates, in fact, wishes to argue that unless it is painful, it would not be punishment. In what follows, I want to discuss Socrates' view of punishment and then to show how it is exemplified in Dostoyevsky 's Crime and Punishment. First of all, not every pain is, of course, punishment. If I cross a powerful man and he hits me, this is not punishment, nor need it be meant to be. If, however, this man thinks that his power entitles him to respect from others, that any one who does not recognize this right is at fault and is a miserable wretch who deserves to be put in his place, if, furthermore, he thinks that such a man should be made an example of, then he certainly thinks he has punished me. He sees his treatment of me under the aspect of punishment and as justified by my behavior. The law may give him no such right, in which case legally he cannot be said to have punished me. ] Of course, I may not accept any of these terms of reference and so not think I was being punished. I may be careful not to cross him again, I may fear him and even do what he says from then on. But this does not mean that I see his treatment of me as punishment. In other words, the fact that it is painful is not enough to make it punishment. It is not even enough that the person administering it should think of it as punishment. This is so, because it may not be generally recognized as such, whether by law or custom. And even where it is, I, the receiver, may not so recognize it; I may reject the particular moral terms of reference. Thus the pain of punishment must be seen in a complex moral framework—either as "I am being flogged because I have done some66 Ìlham Dìlman67 thing bad," or as "I am being flogged because I have done something for which people in this country are generally flogged." In the second thought the relation between the flogging I receive and what I have done is external: This is what generally happens to one who does what I have done. In the former thought this is otherwise. In thinking of what I have done as bad, I think of it as deservingsome painful treatment. The painful treatment is not just what happens to follow the kind of action I have done; the people who administer it have a right to flog me for what I have done. Their treatment of me is justified; it is not arbitrary. Even if they do not flog me, anything that they do to me, provided I think of it as punishment, will be painful. For instance, suppose that the punishment consists in my wearing a conspicuous yellow badge. This will then be a way of conveying how what I have done is regarded in the community. It will be a way of saying: He has done something bad, something of which he ought to be ashamed. Even if I do not think of what I have done as shameful and bad, and therefore do not feel penitent, I may not find it easy to keep my head up when I have to wear this yellow badge. So whether I feel penitent or not, I shall be punished and may well suffer pain. The pain here is bound up with other people's knowing what I have done and thinking of it as bad; that is, with my being in disgrace among the people whose opinion matters to me. A distinction needs to be made here. There are two ways in which I may regard what I have done as deserving the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 66-78
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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