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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Holocaust And Lunatic Fringe - 951 words
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Behrens and Rosen asked, "What sort of people were responsible for the Holocaust, and for the long list of other atrocities that seem to blight the human record in every generation? Is it a lunatic fringe, a few sick but powerful people who are responsible for atrocities?" and the responded with "If so, then we decent folk needn't ever look inside ourselves to understand evil since ever lurks out there." Behrens and Rosen use this to construe that evil does not lurk only in lunatics but the ordinary person as well. Everyone is capable any act possible, the circumstances and the environment play an important role on what a person is capable of doing. Doris Lessing uses this to state that individuals will conform to the majority because of society's pressures and lose individualism. Lessing uses the fact that because of western societies are well educated in different ways, free to make choices that this makes the individual, but people never think to look at their lives and see that they are no longer and individual because they are conforming to the pressures of society. She uses the fact that people often socialize with "like-minded" people often forces to make decisions that our peers make.
She declares that, "We find our thinking changing because we belong to a group. It is the hardest thing in the world to maintain an individual dissident opinion, as a member of a group." She goes on to review several experiments that involved conforming to groups. Stanley Milgram's experiment shows that people many times conform to do what an authority figure says or orders. Despite moral apprehensions, a person might continue to do what they know is wrong. Milgram used ordinary people of all different types of life in his experiment and showed that many of them will continue until they are told to stop. It is not a "lunatic fringe" that will go against what is morally right, but it is a majority that will
Milgram says that it is easier going against one's own principles then disobeying an authoritative figure. Milgram's results and Behrens and Rosen's argument, as well as Lessings all demonstrate each other. Milgram shows that it easy for people to go with authority, Behrens and Rosen state that it is not a lunatic fringe but instead ordinary people, and Lessing saying that people will conform to groups. Groups are typically an authority figure. People will typically not speak their mind if the other members in a group disagree with one's opinion on a matter.
A group can tell an individual to do something, and the individual will find it more difficult to refuse the group's order. This takes away the distinguishing line between a lunatic and an ordinary person. A person will do an act despite their own wish if they feel that they will be praised by the group. Lessing's argument shows why so much more trouble happens when there is a group of people rather than an individual. The individual will not typically commit acts of vandalism, however many times an individual in a group will.
The individual feels that he will not be held responsible for his own actions because he is part of a group. Milgram's experiment shows how a person will continue on because he or she does not feel that they will not be held responsible for their own actions, once the authoritative figure declares that he will be responsible for the consequences. Lessing also writes that "what is dangerous is not the belonging to a group, or groups, but not understanding the social laws that govern groups and govern us." Milgram states that "Even Eichmann was sickened when he toured the concentration camps, but he had only to sit at a desk and shuffle papers. At the same time the same man in the camp who actually dropped the Cyclon-b into the gas chambers was able to justify his behavior on the grounds that he was only following orders from above." This shows that the individual succumbs to pressures of authority and society easily and loses moral obligations and no longer is an individual. The person no longer makes a decision on what he think what he is doing is right or wrong.
He finds himself more of a tool of another's will. With no feeling of responsibility a person was able to kill thousands. There seems to be a cycle between all three of theories. Lessing says it is the individual that conforms to the group, Behrens and Rosen state that it is not a lunatic fringe that commits acts of atrocities but it could be an ordinary person, and Milgram says that it is an authoritative figure that the person feels that they must obey. It seems that the group creates an authority figure that the ordinary person and not a lunatic must obey. Even the group as a whole might be the authority figure but the individual becomes no longer responsible for their action and no longer is an individual. Lessing uses a hypothetical situation of telling children that the human race has realized that they are conforming to a group rather than being an individual, then goes on to declare, "It is information that will set people free from blind loyalties, obedience to slogans, rhetoric, leaders, group emotions." If people did not feel that the group is always right, then there would be more individualism.
This is why so many people felt obligated to obey the authority figure in Milgram's experiment. The lunatic fringe that Behrens and Rosen argue about does not exist as they, but ordinary people are capable of committing atrocity that the lunatic is capable of doing.
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