1

[25% down the page] In any case, is vengeance necessarily a bad thing?

The Victorian legal philosopher James Fitzjames Stephens [in Liberty, Equality, Fraternity] thought vengeance was an acceptable justification for punishment. Punishment, he thought, should be inflicted:

1. for the sake of ratifying the feeling of hatred − call it revenge, resentment, or what you will − which the contemplation of such [offensive] conduct excites[,] in healthily constituted minds.

Would someone please explain which? What's this phenomenon called?

How does the above differ from the only way in which I could interpret this quote, by removing which:

2. for the sake of ratifying the feeling of hatred − call it revenge, resentment, or what you will. The contemplation of such [offensive] conduct excites in healthily constituted minds.

But 2 sounds wrong, because excite is a transitive verb (so 'excite in' is unreasoning)?

Update: I inserted a comma after 'excite', if this shos that 'which ... excites' is the relative clause?

  • I would disagree that vengeance per se is the rationale for punishment. It is a meta-rationale: the desire to ratify the feeling that people get when they behold someone doing wrong to others. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 5 '14 at 16:26
4

for the sake of ratifying the feeling of hatred − call it revenge, resentment, or what you will − which the contemplation of such [offensive] conduct excites in healthily constituted minds.

To make the sentence more understandable, I'd rather remove the parenthetic construction between the dashes:

for the sake of ratifying the feeling of hatred which the contemplation of such [offensive] conduct excites in healthily constituted minds.

Hence

The contemplation of such conduct excites the feeling of hatred in healthy minds. So, for the sake of ratifying this feeling, let us bestow punishment upon convicts.

  • +1. Thank you effusively. Is there a name for this issue? I want to practice reading more of such sentences. – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Oct 29 '14 at 9:50
  • Thanks for the thanks! I don't know if there's a name for such constructions. – CowperKettle Oct 29 '14 at 11:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.