Classics 2905 - Chapter 1

6 Pages
Unlock Document

Western University
Classical Studies
Classical Studies 2301A/B
Randall Pogorzelski

Classics 5 Chapter One - Legal approach to criminology defines crime as law breaking behavior. This is a necessary approach because the law is a necessary concept in criminology, but it is not all there is. - Laws vary form place to place and over time so the legal approach to criminology is very culturally and historically specific. - Moral approach to criminology defines crime as what is morally wrong and that may or may not be against specific laws. (Ex. Crossing the street when the red hand is on, this is law-breaking behavior but we do not think of it as immoral or as criminal. Also is some acts they we think of as criminal, can be legally innocent) We think of criminals as immoral people. - The social approach to criminology is much like moral but emphasizes the socially specific nature of the category of crime. In ancient Greek, the word for law is nomos, which also means custom, and this means that linguistically the ancient Greeks didn’t make that much of a distinction between criminal behavior as law breaking or simply violating social norms. Both kinds of acts went against nomos, expecially in early Greek law judges made decisions based on custom and what they thought was just and right instead of referring to a specific body of laws. This is a social approach to crime, defining crime as behavior that violates social norms whether or not it actually breaks the law. - The humanistic approach is closely related to the moral approach. This idea is that there are certain basic human rights that transcend the specifics of culture and that violations of human rights are criminal whether or not they violate specific laws or social customs One of the advantages of the humanistic approach to crime is that it is universal. It defines the criminal in the same way for all of humanity, and it is easy to see why this is limiting but it also presents very interesting questions. (Ex. The ancient Athenians kept slaves, which violated the human rights for a large number of people. Was this criminal behavior? It wasn’t against the law, so not in a legal sense nor did it violate social customs, but it may have been morally wrong and may have violated the human rights of the slaves. If there were ancient Athenians living somewhere today, we might say they were international war criminals for enslaving their prisoners of war) - The last approach is closely related to the social approach and is the Social Constructionist approach to crime. The moral and humanistic approaches suggest that there is a natural, universal or essential aspect to crime that doesn’t change culturally or historically. The social and social constructionist approaches argue that there is nothing natural, universal or essential about the idea of crime, and it is apart of the social fabric of communities. (Ex. The idea of homosexuality. It was not about the gender of who you wanted to sleep with but rather the specific sexual acts you wanted to preform. Those who enjoy being penetrated belong in one category and those who enjoy penetrating belong in another. If an ancient Athenian enjoyed penetrating, it mattered some but not much rather he preferred women or men. What we think of as gay, are only then men who enjoyed being penetrated. In a way, homosexuality didn’t exist in classical Athens, they thought of it as different categories then today. This shows that even the fundamental categories that we think of as natural and unchangeable can change over time. Identity is a powerful thing and to identify today as gay or straight is a big deal. If makes us who we are, but in ancient Greece what we think of as gay and straight didn’t really exist. For us, this is important because crime might be the same way. Foucault, one of the first perponents of the idea that the concept of homosexuality as a recent invention makes precisely this kind of social construction as an argument about crime and punishment. - One way Foucault argues is in the concept of punishment. We have correctional facilities, and we treat criminals as people who can be corrected or fixed. Foucault argues that this is a modern idea and that the spectacle of punishment in the pre modern world is about fixing a problem with a community by getting rid of criminal rather than about fixing a problem with the individual criminal. Just like sexuality, criminality is a part of identity. We think of peole as criminals, and ourselves as not criminal. Crime is not just about a criminal act, but also about a criminal person. (Ex. People who say, I’m not a racist but, and then say something racist. Nobody wants to identify as a racist, they don’t want that to be part of their identity. The same thing happens with criminals. They see themselves as good people who made a mistake but others see them as bad people. - One of the key figures in the development of modern criminology for both Walklate and Foucault is the 19 century Italian prison psychiatrist, Cesare Lombroso. Lombroso was a biological positivist, meaning he wanted to study crime scientifically and he believed criminals were biologically different from other people. He measured things like the distance between eyes, to try and collect data on the physical characteristics of criminals. It may seem crazy now but both Foucasult and Walklate argue that some remains of Lombroso’s ideas are still working behind the scenes in criminology. We still associate certain characteristics with criminality and as much as we don’t like to admit it, there is a lot of racism in popular depictions of crime. - Even when we don’t work with physical characteristics, social positivism still takes a scientific approach, and refocuses it on the social characteristics of criminals. One of the key ideas in early sociological positivist criminology that developed in the Chicago school in the early 20th century, was the idea of the zone of transition, which we might call The Inner City, and how different is the association of crime with Inner city youth from defining physical characteristics of criminals. Itdoesnt seem nearly as absurd to us now as measuring the distance between peoples eyes or feeling the bumps on their heads. - Another way in which the legacy of Lombroso survives is in psychological positivism. This is a scientific approach to crime that says that it is not the physical but rather the psychological characteristics of a person that make that person criminal or not. Again, it is not about an act of crime but rather the character of a person. This still takes a scientific approach, and like Lombroso it suggests that it is primarily internal factors rather than external factors that determine crime. In other words, the focus is on the criminal rather than the crime. Certain people are criminal people for one reason or another and they will commit crimes, they have criminal minds. But if modern criminology is shaped by positivist approaches developed within the last few centuries, like Lombroso’s biological positivism, and more modern approaches like sociological and psychological, then modern criminology still bears the legacy of such men as Lombroso, and how much is our thinking unconsciously shaped by specifically modern categories that don’t apply in ancient Greeks and Rome. - The best way to answer such a question is to look at specific crimes of Ancient Greek  On example to compare modern criminology with ancient ideas is from the Iliad. It is not a story of a crime that was actually committed, but rather a crime that was prevented. There is a scene in the Iliad where Aeschylus and Agamemnon are having an argument in front of the council over the distribution of war captives, and Aeschylus is about to draw his sword but Athena appears behind him and urges him to stop and use his words rather than violence. Nobody can see Athena but Aeschylus does what she wants and doesn’t take violent action. Because nobody can see her and she only ha influence on Aeschylus in this scene, we might not view her as an external source but as an aspect of Aeschylus psychology. Athena is the goddess of practical wisdom and she manifests in the Iliad as an external representation of Aeschylus practical wisdom, preventing him from killing Agamemnon. In this way we get an insight into the psychology of Aeschylus, here who is a potential rather than actual violent criminal. Like modern criminology and psychological positivism, the Iliad looks for causes and ways to prevent violence in the psychology of people.  We have also some of this kind of psychology in Greek tragedy. In the Oresteia, we saw the furies pursuing Orestes and they were an external representation of Orestes’ feelings of guilt. We could at various points see characters being torn about what was right and what was wrong in the Oresteia and sometimes the chorus commented on the process of determining right and wrong. As we continue to look at criminology, we can argue that the Oresteia is a kind of ancient criminology, looking at causes and solutions for crime and the representation of psychological forces in the furies like the representation of Aeschyles psychology in Athena, it suggests that the Greeks also so the psychology of the criminal as a contributing factor to crime.  Modern psychology is far more specific and direct than the explorations of criminal psychology in the Iliad and Oresteia. It is also a lot more extensive which makes criminology as a discipline an in pa
More Less

Related notes for Classical Studies 2301A/B

Log In


Don't have an account?

Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.