Obedience to Authority by Stanley Milgram
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"February 11, 2019 – Finished Reading
January 26, 2019 – page 102
January 16, 2019 – page 98
January 12, 2019 – page 87
January 11, 2019 – page 60
January 7, 2019 – page 45
17.58% "Just showing how far a weak mind goes..."
January 6, 2019 – page 30
August 26, 2018 – page 27
June 1, 2018 – page 24
9.38% "And people belief in what it's said to them... people so easy can get manipulated...
We just needs few
January 5, 2018 – page 17
January 5, 2018 – page 10
3.91% "Obedience and Authority are going to pull a human beyond from it's own human limits."
January 5, 2018 – page 10
3.91% "This book is going to clean up all shit written by human being."
January 5, 2018 – Shelved
January 5, 2018 – Started Reading"
"At least one essential feature of the situation in Germany was not studied here-namely, the intense devaluation of the victim prior to action against him. For a decade and more, vehement anti-Jewish propaganda systematically prepared the German population to accept the destruction of the Jews. Step by step the Jews were excluded from the category of citizen and national, and finally were denied the status of human beings."
"This laboratory situation gives us a framework in which to study the subject’s reactions to the principal conflict of the experiment. Again, this conflict is between the experimenter’s demands that he continue to administer the electric shock and the learner’s demands, which become increasingly insistent, that the experiment be stopped."
"Too often, the value of a work in social science is played down by asserting the self-evident character of the findings."
"“I think he’s trying to communicate, he’s knocking.... Well it’s not fair to shock the guy these areterrific volts. I don’t think this is very humane. Oh, I can’t go on with this; no, this isn’t right. It’s a hell of an experiment. The guy is suffering in there. No, I don’t want to go on. This is crazy.” (Subject refuses to administer more shocks."
"Obedience is the behavioral aspect of the state. A person may be in an agentic state-that is, in a state of openness to regulation from an authority-without ever being given a command and thus never having to obey."
"Thus, the subject’s predicament is reduced to a problem of rational decision making. This analysis ignores a crucial aspect of behavior illuminated by the experiments. Though many subjects make the intellectual decision that they should not give any more shocks to the learner, they are frequently unable to trans- form this conviction into action. Viewing these subjects in the laboratory, one can sense their intense inner struggle to extricate themselves from the authority, while ill-defined but powerful bonds hold them at the shock generator. One subject tells the experimenter: “He can’t stand it. I’m not going to kill that man in there. You hear him hollering in there. He’s hollering. He can’t stand it.” Although at the verbal level the subject has resolved not to go on, he continues to act in accord with the experimenter’s commands."
"the end. For if he breaks off, he must say to himself: “Everything I have done to this point is bad, and I now acknowledge it by breaking off.” But, if he goes on, he is reassured about his past performance. Earlier actions give rise to discomforts, which are neutralized by later ones."
"Although to the outsider the act of refusing to shock stems from moral considerations, the action is experienced by the subject as renouncing an obligation to the experimenter, and such repudiation is not undertaken lightly. There is another side to this matter. Goffman (1959) points out that every social situation is built upon a working consensus among the participants. One of its chief premises is that once a definition of the situation has been projected and agreed upon by participants, there shall be no challenge to it. Indeed, disruption of the accepted definition by one participant has the character of moral transgression. Under no circumstance is open conflict about the definition of the situation compatible with polite social exchange.More specifically, according to Goffman’s analysis, “society is organized on the principle that any individual who possesses certain social characteristics has a moral right to expect that others will value and treat him in a correspondingly appropriate way. When an individual projects a definition of the situation and then makes an implicit or explicit claim to be a person of a particular kind, he automatically exerts a moral demand upon the others, obliging them to value and treat him in the manner that persons of his kind have a right to expect” (page 185). Since to refuse to obey the experimenter is to reject his claim to competence and authority in this situation, a severe social impropriety is necessarily involved."
"Thus, the subject fears that if he breaks off, he will appear arrogant, untoward, and rude. Such emotions, although they appear small in scope alongside the violence being done to the learner, nonetheless help bind the subject into obedience. They suffuse the mind and feelings of the subject, who is miserable at the prospect of having to repudiate the authority to his face. The entire prospect of turning against the experimental authority, with its attendant disruption of a well-defined social situation, is an embarrassment that many people are unable to face up to. In an effort to avoid this awkward event, many subjects find obedience a less painful alternative."
"Only obedience can preserve the experimenter’s status and dignity. It is a curious thing that a measure of compassion on the part of the subject, an unwillingness to “hurt” the experimenter’s feelings, are part of those binding forces inhibiting disobedience. The withdrawal of such deference may be as painful to the subject.
"...as to the authority he defies. Readers who feel this to be a trivial consideration ought to carry out the following experiment. It will help them feel the force of inhibition that operates on the subject What is the source of this anxiety? It stems from the individual’s long history of socialization. He has, in the course of moving from a biological creature to a civilized person, internalized the basic rules of social life. And the most basic of these is respect for authority. The rules are internally enforced by linking their possible breach to a flow of disruptive, ego-threatening affect. The emotional signs observed in the laboratory-trembling, anxious laughter, acute embarrassment-are evidence of an assault on these rules. As the subject contemplates this break, anxiety is generated, signaling him to step back from the forbidden action and thereby creating an emotional barrier through which he must pass in order to defy authority.The remarkable thing is, once the “ice is broken” through disobedience, virtually all the tension, anxiety, and fear evaporate."
"Men can function on their own or, through the assumption of roles, merge into larger systems. But the very fact of dual capacities requires a design compromise. We are not perfectly tailored for complete autonomy, nor for total submission.Of course, any sophisticated entity designed to function both autonomously and within hierarchical systems will have mechanisms for the resolution of strain, for unless such resolving mechanisms exist the system is bound to break down posthaste."
"The experience of tension in our subjects shows not the power of authority but its weakness, revealing further an extremely important aspect of the experiment: transformation to the agentic state is, for some subjects, only partial.If the individual’s submergence in the authority system were total, he would feel no tension as he followed commands, no matter how harsh, for the actions required would be seen only through the meanings imposed by authority, and would thus be fully acceptable to the subject. Every sign of tension, therefore, is evidence of the failure of authority to transform the person to an unalloyed state of agency."
"Residues of selfhood, remaining in varying degrees outside the experimenter’s authority, keep personal values alive in the subject and lead to strain which, if sufficiently powerful, can result in disobedience. In this sense, the agentic state created in the laboratory is vulnerable to disturbance, just as a person asleep may be disturbed by the impingement of a suffciently loud noise. (During sleep, a person’s capacity for hearing and sight are sharply diminished, though sufficiently strong stimuli may rouse him from that state. Similarly, in the agentic state, a person’s moral judgments are largely suspended, but a sufficiently strong shock may strain the viability of the state.)"
"Disobedience is the ultimate means whereby strain is brought to an end. It is not an act that comes easily.It implies not merely the refusal to carry out a particular command of the experimenter but a reformulation of the relation- ship between subject and authority."
"I have explained the behavior observed in the laboratory in the way that seemed to me to make the most sense. An alternative view is that what we have observed in the laboratory is aggression, the flow of destructive tendencies, released because the occasion permitted its expression. This view seems to me erroneous, and I will indicate why. But first let me state the “aggression” argument :By aggression we mean an impulse or action to harm another organism. In the Freudian view, destructive forces are present in all individuals, but they do not always find ready release, for their expression is inhibited by superego, or conscience."
"The aim of these investigators was to study aggression per se. In typical experimental manipulations, they frustrated the subject to see whether he would administer higher shocks when angry. But the effect of these manipulations was minuscule compared with the levels obtained under obedience. That is to say, no matter what these experimenters did to anger, irritate, or frustrate the subject, he would at most move up one or two shock levels, say from shock level 4 to level 6. This represents a genuine increment in aggression."
"In the preceding chapters, I have tried to explain why the behavior observed in the laboratory comes about: how the individual makes an initial set of commitments to the authority, how the meaning of the action is transformed by the context in which it occurs, and how binding factors prevent the person from disobeying."
"Other differences should at least be mentioned briefly: to resist Nazism was itself an act of heroism, not an inconsequential decision, and death was a possible penalty. Penalties and threats were forever around the corner, and the victims themselves had been thoroughly vilified and portrayed as being unworthy of life or human kindness. Finally, our subjects were told by authority that what they were doing to their victim might be temporarily painful but would cause no permanent damage, while those Germans directly involved in the annihilations knew that they were not only inflicting pain but were destroying human life. So, in the final analysis, what happened in Germany from 1933 to 1965 can only be fully understood as the expression of a unique historical development that will never again be precisely replicated."
"To focus only on the Nazis, however despicable their deeds, and to view only highly publicized atrocities as being relevant to these studies is to miss the point entirely. For the studies are principally concerned with the ordinary and routine destruction carried out by everyday people following orders."
"I faced young men who were aghast at the behavior of experimental subjects and proclaimed they would never behave in such a way, but who, in a matter of months, were brought into the military and performed without compunction actions that made shocking the victim seem pallid. In this respect, they are no better and no worse than human beings of any other era who lend themselves to the purposes of authority and become instruments in its destructive processes."
"The catalogue of inhumane actions performed by ordinary Americans in the Vietnamese conflict is too long; to document here in detail. The reader is referred to several treatises on this subject (Taylor, 1970; Classer, 1971; Halberstam, 1965). We may recount merely that our soldiers routinely burned villages, engaged in a “free-fire zone” policy, employed napalm extensively, utilized the most advanced technology against primitive armies, defoliated vast areas of the land, forced the evacuation of the sick and aged for purposes of military expediency, and massacred outright hundreds of unarmed civilians."
"Typically, we do not find a heroic figure struggling with conscience, nor a pathologically aggressive man ruthlessly exploiting a position of power, but a functionary who hasbeen given a job to do and who strives to create an impression of competence in his work.Now let us return to the experiments and try to underscore their meaning. The behavior revealed in the experiments reported here is normal human behavior but revealed under conditions that show with particular clarity the danger to human survival inherent in our make-up."
"In an article entitled “The Dangers of Obedience,” Harold J. Laski wrote:.....civilization means, above all, an unwillingness to inflict unnecessary pain. Within the ambit of that definition, those of us who heedlessly accept the commands of authority cannot yet claim to be civilized men.Our business, if we desire to live a life not utterly devoid of meaning and significance, is to accept nothing which contradicts our basic experience merely because it comes to us from tradition or conventionor authority. It may well be that we shall be wrong; but our self-expression is thwarted at the root unless the certainties we are asked to accept coincide with the certainties we experience. That is why the condition of freedom in any state is always a widespread and consistent skepticism of the canons upon which power insists."
P.S.: If there is a need to say something... (It was a long ride)
Good Humans Can Do Evil
"Say No Evil
Do No Evil"
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