Reflection Paper #2 — A Final Look Back

The class is now over, and now we must all give our input with what we have taken away from this class on violence. In my first reflection paper, my musings called to a particular theory that violence is an opposing force of morality;

I believe that violence at its core is an opposing force to morality. Although, how does this relationship work in people with low levels of morality? Perhaps it is like a threshold; once the level of violence reaches a certain point, people will be more inclined to use violence. In people with lower levels of morality this threshold would be much lower, meaning they could commit violent acts without worrying about morals.”

These particular words, taken from said reflection paper, are more true than I would have thought 10 weeks ago. What I found resonated most with what I said was the week 8 lecture on Randall Collins and the myth of violence; that while people believe fighters are brave, competent, and evenly matched, (as seen in popular media such as the news, movies, and sports) they are in reality scared, incompetent, and unevenly matched. Collins proposes a theory called “emotional entrainment” where specific conditions must be met in order for violence to occur, mainly to overcome this emotional expression of “tension/fear” that he describes; and this requires the ability to overcome their emotional barriers in order to engage in acts of violence. This mainly involves, at least to Collins, situational factors; he specifically talks about the transference of emotional energy through crowds.

So has my general view of violence changed? Through all 13 weeks we talked about how violence affects so many people in so many ways, from not being about to find the right size strawberry due to the winter season to not being able to go home because of a war-torn country. There were theories that I disagreed with, such as Consequentialism, while most others made logical sense and jived with my own thoughts, such as the previously stated Entrainment Theory. I do not believe that my viewpoint on violence has over changed a lot since the beginning of the course

On the other hand, I suppose I have gained a new understanding of violence. Being an avid tabletop and video gamer, not to mention the amount of books I have consumed throughout my life, I believed going into the class I had a fairly decent understanding of the subject; “Violence” for me was something that people did to other people to hurt them, and I never gave it a second thought. Now, I understand how the nature of violence is so much more complicated than that.

Anyway, looking back I can see that violence is, complicated, convoluted, and a huge grey area, that is likely not going to change. Even then,this class helped spotlight a lot of problems that arises when you talk about violence, and I think I ultimately walked away with quite a bit of knowledge. I think by arming people with this knowledge, we are able to make them better understand what drives them to violence and perhaps, if not break the cycle of violence, then slow it down at least a little bit. I look forward to exploring this side of philosophy in the future.