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Post By
Blue Beetle

In Reply To
The Black Guardian

Subj: Re: POLL: What's your take on the psychology of super-heroes?
Posted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 at 07:32:21 pm EDT
Reply Subj: Re: POLL: What's your take on the psychology of super-heroes?
Posted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 at 06:34:09 pm EDT

Previous Post

> > You said above that you probably should have used "heroic" instead.
> > I can accept that, although I wouldn't link morality and heroism.
> > The sort of things I consider moral are often either irrelevant to
> > or diametrically opposed to what I consider heroic. Of course I
> > want my heroes to be more heroic than I am. I imagine that if
> > they're like me or the people I know, then stories will be quite
> > boring.
>
> Yes, I was equating morality and heroism in my original post, because
> to me they're the same thing; I.e., as morality increases, heroism is
> approached and finally reached, because heroism is the ultimate
> fulfillment of morality. To put it in Freudian terms: my Superego
> tells me to be heroic. The super-hero is my Ego Ideal. (But that only
> works for me if the super-hero is consistently heroic.)

I can see how that could be true for some, perhaps even most. For me, part of a hero's self-sacrifice can be a moral, ethical, or psychological sacrifice as well as a physical one. For instance, the priest in The Exorcist taking the demon into himself to spare the child and subsequently killing himself. Or to be more mundane, I don't consider killing to be moral, regardless of circumstance, but it can be heroic if done to protect yourself or others; also stealing, is never moral imo, but it can be heroic in the case of characters/people like Robin Hood.
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The Legend of LIONMAN and the Seven Kurodos
Experience The Bijou


> I can see how that could be true for some, perhaps even most. For me, part of a hero's self-sacrifice can be a moral, ethical, or psychological sacrifice as well as a physical one. For instance, the priest in The Exorcist taking the demon into himself to spare the child and subsequently killing himself. Or to be more mundane, I don't consider killing to be moral, regardless of circumstance, but it can be heroic if done to protect yourself or others; also stealing, is never moral imo, but it can be heroic in the case of characters/people like Robin Hood.


What interests me here is how two questions that are really the same question rearranged can each hit me very differently. Here's what I mean:

"Can an immoral act be heroic?" - It's easy for me to answer yes to that. The affirmative response just rolls off my tongue, as I start making my list: lying can be heroic, stealing can be heroic, killing can be heroic... but gradually it starts to dawn on me that I don't really mean what I'm saying, and then I pose the rearranged question:

"Can a heroic act be immoral?" - My answer is immediate and visceral: "Heck No!"

I just can't bring myself to identify the same act as simultaneously heroic and immoral. Once the act is identified as heroic, it automatically becomes moral, noble, pure, perfect, virtuous, saintly. Lying becomes saintly, stealing becomes saintly, killing becomes saintly, because heroism makes it so. I would be sure in my heart that as I lied, stole, killed, in the context of heroism, the reaction in all the hallowed halls in every heaven would be universal approval. Christ and Krishna, Buddha and Horus, Tyr and Mohammed and Moses, they would all be applauding. I just don't see how it can be otherwise. Heroism is either the right thing to do or it isn't. If it's the right thing to do, then it's moral, because that's what morality is: the right thing to do.

But your concept of moral sacrifice is intriguing. There's something in it that calls to me.

Consider adultery. If I were married and somehow adultery were required in order for me to save lives, I would commit adultery and consider it moral. I would tremble at the thought of informing my wife, but I wouldn't for a moment think her outrage was correct. Even as I tried to sympathize, I would be assuring myself that if placed in the same situation again, I would make the same choice, and I would defend it at whatever Tribunal judged my immortal soul.

Yet my wife would be outraged. Somewhere in there is a secret, perhaps a lesson.



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