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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  1. Rather than being mean to the world, you would be being mean to a randomly selected student. And also anyone else who wanted that book. Of course you should fucking return it. You want philosophy? Kantian bollocking univeralisability.

    05 Aug 2005, 20:18

  2. The Arabs have a saying "He who lends a book is a fool, he who returns the book is an even bigger fool."

    Just to clarify, that's not an endorsement of thievery, but a demonstration of the value of books and knowledge.

    07 Aug 2005, 09:00

  3. Okay, I'm starting to believe in god. I lost my cash card, library card and external borrower's card. HELP!!!

    07 Aug 2005, 15:38

  4. TMA

    My money's on the Irish drama student having made off with your cards… I'm a firm believer in direct karma

    07 Aug 2005, 17:16

  5. The Irony of It

    Yesterday I asked my friend to return the book and check it out under his name. And the irony is, today when I went to the library to get a new external borrower's card, I had all my lost cards returned to me. Apparently I'd left them in the IT centre on Saturday. That's a definite proof of the existence of God! Or at least of Karma.

    08 Aug 2005, 13:47

  6. penguina

    I think I will go to london next year…

    08 Aug 2005, 14:01

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