Of Course Spanking Works

The problem with this study making the rounds is that it assumes that spanking is supposed to generate obedience. Who wants to raise children who are obedient? What we want to raise is children who are self-sufficient and who don't cause us problems. They are children who learn to deal with power structures and pursue their own interests accordingly.

Which is exactly what the study says spanked children are like. They are capable of wielding deception, they are capable of wielding violence in their own interests, and they are capable of pretending to go-along-and-get-along when they aren't in positions of power.

They're Odysseus, in other words.

This is the matter of Plato's Hippias Minor, which treats the question of whether Odysseus or Achilles was the greater hero. The usual position of historians and philosophers is that this is a very unimportant dialogue, with a silly argument, that we might even doubt was Platonic except that Aristotle confirms that Plato wrote it.

That's not right at all. The point is that Plato was teaching the Athens that killed him that Socrates was a kind of Odysseus. Aristotle takes the 'simple' reductio argument of this dialogue seriously enough that he responds to it in the Nicomachean Ethics. This is very serious stuff.

What kind of a child are you trying to raise? An obedient one? Or Odysseus?


Anonymous said...

Isn't t funny that shrinks keep telling parents to talk to their children instead of disciplining them, and survey after survey shows that parents disagree, even after years of propaganda?

This paper is anecdotal evidence shaped by the authors' prejudices.


douglas said...

The report headlines and is lead with 'spanking doesn't work', but ends with 'the report ultimately says it depends on the child'. Contradiction in a matter of a few sentences, but they have to push the ideologically consistent meme, never mind the truth.

So the study says spanked children are capable of deception, and wielding violence in their interests? What, children who aren't spanked aren't capable of these things? These aren't merely part of human nature? News to me.

Odysseus, we need more like him. We've got plenty of children obedient to the authority of popular culture already.