On Fear Of Punishment


“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.”

– Albert Einstein

18 thoughts on “On Fear Of Punishment

  1. In my opinion his comment is valid except that fear leads to wisdom, and wisdom is what makes us good according to the philosophy of King Solomon’s proverb.

    Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

    Regards and good will blogging.

  2. “A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.”
    — Albert Einstein —

    “If you ask anyone, what is morality based on? These are the two factors that always come out: One is reciprocity, … a sense of fairness, and the other one is empathy and compassion.”
    — Frans de Waal —

  3. Hmm, there’s a flip side to that, however. There is a spirit that says, bring it on. Teach me, lead me, show me. I think of children being raised in loving homes, they don’t necessarily fear punishment, they actually embrace it. If there is kindness and empathy in there, they will actually grow to appreciate having boundaries, limitations. Rather then punishment being arbitrary and pointless, it can actually be motivated by love.

  4. Only a masochist, whose self-esteem is shattered beyond repair, actually embraces punishment.

  5. I could muster no respect for any Lord whose goal was the instillation of fear in others.

  6. Fear leads to wisdom, what is the basis for this claim?

    What is this obsession the religious have with fear, and why is it revered so? Is it because religion does not operate without fear? Fear is necessary to keep the people scared, ignorant and obediently seated while they hand over their cash, spare time, and moral compass?

    “I want to live my life taking the risk all the time that I don’t know anything like enough yet. That I haven’t understood enough. That I can’t know enough. That I’m always hungrily operating on the margins of a potentially great harvest of future knowledge and wisdom. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    And I urge you to look at people who tell you at your age that you’re dead till you believe as they do. What a terrible thing to be telling to children. That you can only live by accepting an absolute authority. Don’t think of that as a gift. Think of is as a poisoned chalice. Push it aside, however tempting it is. Take the risk of thinking for yourself. Much more happiness, truth, beauty and wisdom will come to you that way.”

    — Christopher Hitchens (Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, TX, Nov 18 2010)

  7. Phrases like embracing punishment tend to lean towards the incredibly immoral. What possible basis could one have for such a line of argument?

    Is this part of some uninformed conservative mantra like “children should not only be beaten,” (psychologically and morally indefensible as that is) “but they tend to like it as well” – it’s a rhetorical question. Have a deep think first.

  8. Children Learn What They Live
    By Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.

    If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
    If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
    If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
    If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
    If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
    If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
    If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
    If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
    If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
    If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
    If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
    If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
    If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
    If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
    If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
    If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
    If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
    If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
    If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

  9. On Children
    ~ Kahlil Gibran ~

    Your children are not your children.
    They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
    They come through you but not from you,
    And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

    You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
    For they have their own thoughts.
    You may house their bodies but not their souls,
    For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
    which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
    You may strive to be like them,
    but seek not to make them like you.
    For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

    You are the bows from which your children
    as living arrows are sent forth.
    The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
    and He bends you with His might
    that His arrows may go swift and far.
    Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
    For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
    so He loves also the bow that is stable.

  10. Fear can be an awesome thing, the power to move mountains. Fear of getting sick sometimes motivates us to wash our hands. Whenever I am in danger, I prefer to be surrounded by scary ones.

    What is it that leads non religious people to be so fearful of fear?

  11. Those who train for marathons embrace “punishment.” Far from being masochists, most are motivated by self love.

    In fact, one who cannot embrace punishment will have a very external kind of self esteem, one based only on the opinions of others.

  12. What a bizarre assumption! I am a non-religious person, and I am not at all “fearful of fear” – I find fear to be an unpleasant experience, to be avoided, much like one prefers to avoid experiencing pain, but to say I was fearful of either would not be accurate.

  13. Dinsdale: “I shall campaign actively for the reintroduction of the death penalty.”

    All: “Bravo.”

    Jack: “You mean there’s no death penalty in England’s green and pleasant? […] The hangman holds our society together. He is the symbol of the great chastiser. He built this world on punishment and fear. Snuff out fear and see what follows. Sons strike their doddering dads. Young girls show their ankles and bosoms and say rude things about the queen. Anything goes, and they do it openly in the street and frighten the horses! […] Bring back fear!”

    All: “Hear, hear.”

    Jack: “In the old days, the executioner kept the common herd in order. When he stood on his gallows, you knew God was in His heaven, all right with the world.”

    – The Ruling Class (1972)

    Surely this is not the kind of madness humanity should embrace?

  14. I would certainly hope not – frankly, I find the sight of an exposed feminine ankle from time to time, positively inspiring!

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