THE PARADOX OF CRUELTY by Philip P. Hallie

THE PARADOX OF CRUELTY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

With a concentration on the efficacy of appropriate antidote rather than an investigation of the original impetus that produces human cruelty, this is a relevant study of both single and institutionalized oppression. Early on Mr. Hallie confronts the popular dictionary pegging of ""cruelty"" as encompassing a single motivation to inflict pain. Cruelty, insists Hallie, ""is the infliction of ruin, whatever the motive."" Using a series of ""images""--Hogarth, de Sade, Gothic horror tales--the author proceeds from the specific act, the variations of motivation and the degree of the victim's ""power"" to a discussion of institutionalized cruelty and the paradox in which suffering of the victims is a byproduct of a socially recognized good. Hallie gives much attention to the treatment of Negroes in white America from slave days to the present. Institutionalized cruelty here as in other instances can ""hide our precious disgust"" ...seeks efficiency, not self indulgence."" Only when the victim refuses the passive role, when the victimizer replaces the ""I-it"" relationship with the more intimate and threatening ""I-you"" is the right balance struck to ""beat the Devil."" Thorny going but a sermon of some power.

Pub Date: Aug. 28th, 1969
Publisher: Wesleyan Univ. Press