All entries for Friday 05 August 2005

August 05, 2005

The Book, the Theif and the Philosophy behind it

I stole a book. Now, where is the philosophy behind it? Here's were:
At exactly 15 minutes to half past seven this evening, I stole a book from the library. The book is called Understanding International Relations by Chris Brown. Self-checking it out like a law-obiding graduate, I didn't notice that the computer thought I was someone else and checked the book out under someone else's name. Someone else, who was interested in the Irish drama. So interested that he/she had checked out three books on that topic. The fouth on the list was mine, IR for dummies.

Now, here starts the philosophy. If the unfortunate person was anywhere near me, I would demonstratively check the book back in and demonstratively demonstrate my good qualities as an honest member of a good society. However, there was no one around, which meant even if I do steal the book, no finger is ever going to point at me (apart from this blog post). Now, the only factor that would affect my decision would be the presence or absence of someone who can appreciate my good gesture. And that got me thinking. The New Scientist had an article about altruism being the ultimate feel-good pill, that people use to really feel good about themselves while helping someone else out. If there was no record of the good deeds one has done, one probably wouldn't do it. Whether we help an elderly lady cross the road, or donate money via Internet to people from epicentres of crises, all these deeds have a record, whether in the lady's memory or on your credit card bill. If there was no such, people wouldn't do it.

And since there's no one to appreciate my good gesture of returning the book before 28 September (and before you mention it, I'm consistently agnostic), I am seriously thinking about nicking the book, just to prove how cynical this world is. This precious book is on 3 Day Loan, and being an external borrower, I can only have it for three days, while any valid Warwick student can have it till the beginning of next term. Since the world is so unfair on me, maybe I shuold be a little mean as well?

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