A Dream of Reason V- Part 2 On Violence as a Species of Unreasonable Objectivity

On Violence as a Species of Unreasonable Objectivity (1985)


Reason and objectivity are commonly interpreted as necessarily interdependent.

We follow a line of traditional usage that identifies objectivity with the capacity to impose on all sane sapient consciousness. Sapient consciousness is inherently “cultural.” Thus to impose on all sapient consciousness is to impose on all cultural constellations (i.e., to transcend cultural differences).


Violence can impose itself on all sapient consciousness sane or insane. Violence occurs within -yet cuts below – the interplay of subjects.

Torture is grounded in (actual or threatened) physical violence. It typically operates through the body on states of mind. The fist is recognized cross culturally. The pain is recognized. The fist as it approaches to bring pain is recognized.

Not all violence is directly physical…. When life unfolds within the recognition of one’s helplessness and the other’s power (that the other can do anything s/he wishes and one can do nothing to prevent it) any sudden gesture, verbal or physical, can be felt as violence and can torture.

Violence is most effective as a means of conversion when – as in The Inquisition – it occurs within a long enduring structure of domination.

Conquest often forces “re-definitions” on the vanquished…. The grandchildren of those converted “at sword’s point” may defend their conquerors’ religion to the death. (For example, the destruction of Inca and Aztec orders of life was a self-betrayal of Christianity. Yet because the destruction was brutal and complete, because the cup of their life was broken, most Peruvians and Mexicans are now Catholic.)


There is unreasonable objectivity. Does reason depend on the compulsion of objectivity?

The prevalence of (verbal) struggle in The Socratic Dialogues may be misleading. The better argument does not compel as torture compels. One can refuse to enter “the dialogical circle.” One can walk away. One can kill the questioner. (One is not tied down.)

To be persuaded by the arguments of others is only apparently to be defeated. It is only possible if one is committed (beyond one’s particular opinions) to reason.

Reason (as love) neither requires nor permits compulsion.

Exert from A Dream of Reason by Avron Soyer, Continue Reading –A Dream of Reason V: A Visit to Shadowland 


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

16 − 7 =

Writings and Interviews by Avron Soyer

Reflections on life, paintings, theory, conversation.

Follow and share Avron’s posts

Subscribe to Avron’s blog