Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Psychopaths and Philosophy (otherwise known as House M.D.)

I’m a big fan of House, and although its “case of the week” format can be repetitive at times, I like the way the writers use the cases to talk more concretely about philosophical issues. This week we were introduced to a psychopath who apparently had a copper deficiency (to which I say, can we cure all psychopaths with copper? For real?). At one point, House is talking to said psychopath and in the middle of typical House/patient banter, the psychopath says something to the effect of “a conscience is just an instinct.”

Now, if the following ranting doesn't prove my brain works way too much on pop culture, I don't know what will, but my brain has been stuck on this random line of dialogue for two days. Because, if a conscience is an instinct, why does it seem like I’m often surrounded by people who don’t have one? Is it some weird genetic deficiency (that can be cured with copper!)? And if it is an instinct, that doesn’t mean I have to act on it, which means I could act against it. But when challenged, we revert to instincts, so wouldn’t everyone naturally act with a conscience if that was that case?

I guess I’m having trouble getting my head around this because I had a conversation with someone recently that went, “yeah, I made this choice because and in the end it was the wrong choice and hurt a lot of people but I don’t feel bad about it.” And I just don’t get that. I feel bad about choices even when I make the right choices, let alone the wrong ones. So either I have some weird biological makeup that makes me interpret the world this way, or it’s the Catholic guilt thing socially constructed over time. Or I could be an alien. It’s possible.

Sorry this is SO not like my usually insightful and directed posts. It’s Wednesday, and my brain hurts. If you can help me clarify any or all of the above randomness, please comment.


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  2. From lauraariel (reposted without identifying markers...)

    I LOVED this post. The mid-week chaos was successfully conveyed to the reader, especially people who are probably experiencing the same thing. Also, I very much agree with you about the whole conscience as instinct thing. I couldn't disagree more with that statement. More people need to have a conscience when dealing with day to day events! least a half-ass one. I thought that the House episode was very interesting, but I was having trouble buying the whole concept of the patient's psychopathic disorder being a curable symptom of some other disease (a copper deficiency, for that matter). It was just another fairy tale TV ending, of course. But I just wanted to let you know that this post brightened up an otherwise crappy-ish night, so thank you.

    p.s. I love Gregory House

  3. i love the way you write this blog. Like you i am a huge fan of this show and love to watch House MD. Story line and performances of actors are just brilliant in it.