Will Durant: Political Elements of Civilization: “Law”

Routine“It is routine that keeps men sane; for if there were no grooves along which thought and action might move with unconscious ease, the mind would be perpetually hesitant, and would soon take refuge in lunacy. A law of economy works in instinct and habit, in custom and convention: the most convenient mode of response to repeated stimuli or traditional situations is automatic response. Thought and innovation are disturbances of regularity, and are tolerated only for indispensable readaptations, or promised gold.”

Why Dick Cheney will never do community service while there’s thousands rotting in prison for possession of marijuana: “The penalties assessed in cases of composition might vary with the sex, age and rank of the offender and the injured; among the Fijians, for example, petty theft by a common man was considered a more heinous crime than murder by a chief. Throughout the history of law the magnitude of the crime has been lessened by the magnitude of the criminal.”

The Ordeal: “In many cases [before the existence of law] disputes were settled by a public contest between the parties, varying in bloodiness from a harmless boxing-match . . . to a duel to the death. . . . From such early forms the ordeal passed through the laws of Moses and Hammurabi and down into the Middle Ages; the duel, which is one form of the ordeal, and which historians thought dead, is being revived in our own day. So brief and narrow, in some respects, is the span between primitive and modern man; so short is the history of civilization.”

America Thinks About Its Very Tiny Penis: “Laws carry with them the mark of their ancestry, and reek with the vengeance which they tried to replace. Primitive punishments are cruel, because primitive society feels insecure; as social organization becomes more stable, punishments become less severe.”

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