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Defining Cruelty in the 21st Century - Case Study Example

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This paper "Defining Cruelty in the 21st Century" discusses the issue of Rights that has assumed renewed significance, the idea of cruelty merits revisiting. Just as ensuring political correctness and guaranteeing certain fundamental freedoms across borders are important…
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Defining Cruelty in the 21st Century
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Download file to see previous pages Here too, we find that cruelty is defined as the opposite of ‘care and beneficence’. The absence of a caring and beneficent order of life is what paves the way for engendering cruelty. Therefore, from the etymological origins, which signify solely the spilling of blood or physical violence, we have today moved on to thinking of cruelty as an act of causing pain to others and traveled even as far as to accept the absence of caring as being ‘cruel.’

The 17th-century philosopher Spinoza, in his treatise Ethics, defines cruelty as the following: ‘Cruelty or savageness is the desire whereby anyone is incited to work evil to one whom we love or whom we pity (Bunnin & Yu 155).’ Does this definition hold true four hundred years later? Spinoza appears to be looking at cruelty from a personal and psychological point of view. The idea of cruelty as wanting to hurt the ones we love: an idea that is present in the popular imagination even today. However, while today's love’ may be generally accepted to carry within it an inherent sense of loss or pain, ‘cruelty’ is not confined to being such a personal issue.

The idea of cruelty, even within domestic walls, has wider socio-political significance. Domestic violence is an issue that many countries across the world are still grappling with. In a recent progressive pronouncement by the Supreme Court of India, in the case of Samar Ghosh vs. Jaya Ghosh, 2007, the idea of ‘mental cruelty’ was judicially evolved. Although the court declared that it was not possible to objectively define ‘mental cruelty’, the term could include instances of cruel behavior like undergoing sterilization without the prior consent of one’s spouse or taking a unilateral decision on whether or not to have any more children. In fact, even ‘feeling of deep anguish, disappointment, frustration in a spouse caused by the conduct of the other’, if found occurring over a sustained period of time, may amount to ‘mental cruelty’ (Shukla). Interestingly enough, in this case, it was not the wife but the husband who sought relief for the mental torture he was undergoing as a result of his marriage. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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