Schindler's List Term Paper

  • Length: 7 pages
  • Subject: Black Studies - Philosophy
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #73137482

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Schindler's List

Today, all the numerous discussions and discourses on the issue of human rights no longer refers to the traditional belief in an 'ordained chain' of being, wherein the idea of there being a 'natural hierarchy' was widely accepted everywhere in the world. This was probably the main reason why there were some people considered 'inferior' to others, on the hierarchical scale. These inferior people would more often than not be accorded inhumane treatment, and this would be accepted as being the right way, by everyone concerned. However, today, it is no longer the same. Today, as a matter of fact, people are in the process of attempting to learn from their society's past mistakes, by identifying them and then educating others about their society's past immoralities and mistakes. The medium that is frequently used for the purpose is either literature, or in the form of movies, and one such movie is the 'Schindler's List'. (Human Rights Discourse, the moral lessons of Braveheart, Amistad and Schindler's List)

The movie attempts to teach a moral lesson, and provides a framework with which the lesson can be taught with ease and with simplicity. After viewing the movie, one would be forced to question one's own morality and moral values till date, and then re evaluate them. The context of the movie Schindler's List is set against a hierarchical framework, and is set against the backdrop of the Second World War, when the Aryan Nazi party attempted a sort of 'ethnic cleansing' of all 'inferior' races such as Jews, homosexuals, Africans, Afro-Europeans, Gypsies, and even handicapped, who were all taken and placed in concentration camps and in ghettoes so that the 'superior' German races could proliferate throughout the entire world. Oskar Schindler is seen as one of the individuals who do not care anything for these poor unfortunate people who were beings persecuted on account of their so called inferiority.

Oskar Schindler is a man who does not spare a thought for the plight of other human beings, and he takes advantage of the situation in his country during the Second World War in order to acquire riches for himself. He is completely concerned with acquiring cheap labor for himself, and does not stop to think about the senseless killing of human beings based on their respective religions. In fact, it is his self-interest and selfishness that had been preventing him from seeing this and it is when he is forced to single out Itzhak Stern, a Jewish accountant that he realizes that what he had been doing up until then was in fact wrong. He starts to question his values and morals, and it is then that he sees that the Nazis had been depriving human beings of their basic human rights. (Human Rights Discourse, the moral lessons of Braveheart, Amistad and Schindler's List)

It must be stated that a properly understood film is very much like a sort of a 'visual book', with a good beginning, middle and a conclusion. Some films like the Schinlder's List are made with the intention of exposing human beings to certain situations in the world, and make the audience reflect on the film and question their own beliefs and moral values until then. The film is often referred to as an excellent example of man's ability to express himself and all his various hopes and fears through the medium. (Probe Ministries, Film and the Christian)

When Kant's Theory of Judgment is taken into consideration, it must be noted that his theory differs from others in three distinct ways. One is that Kant takes the capacity for judgment to be the 'central cognitive faculty of the human mind', and secondly, Kant insists on a semantic and a logical 'priority of the propositional content of a judgment', and he also states that an individual must systematically embed his judgment within the metaphysics of transcendental idealism as such. Therefore, according to Kant, the very nature of judgment may be a completely complex and a cognitive recognition of any given thing. (Kant Theory of Judgment)

However, when viewing a film like Schindler's List, one is forced to use one's own imagination when viewing it, and this is perhaps because the film present fiction while at the same time claming to present true and real life incidents, and this would mean that one's imagination does come into play when watching the movie and this would cause one to make judgments based on the imagination as well as one the truth being presented. (Philosophical Directions, the effort of understanding) On the other hand, David Hume and his Theory based on moral philosophy are known for its originality and for its long lasting influence on the theories which were developed in later years. It was in fact Hume who was responsible for the introduction of the word 'utility' into the vocabulary, and his theory came just before that of the classic utilitarian theories of Bentham and Mill. (David Hume, 1711 to 1776, and Moral Theory)

Hume stated that one cannot derive 'ought' from 'is', and that statements of moral judgments and values cannot be deduced from statements of fact. In other words, Hume purported that it is moral judgments that would generally be able to better express all our feelings, and that the key moral values of a human being are all matters of social convention, more than anything else. Hume's Moral Theories appear in two of his more important works, 'The Treatise of Human Nature', written in the year 1740, and the 'An Enquiry concerning the principles of Morals, in 1751. In both these works, Hume worked out a theory wherein a chain of events would be revealed, beginning with the agent's actions, which would have an impact on the receiver, and which would be very well observed by the spectator. It must be noted that, according to Hume, all the various actions of a moral agent are in general motivated by his numerous character traits, wherein he may be either a virtuous, or a vicious person.

Therefore, if he is a virtuous person, he would donate money to a charity for example, while if he was a vicious person, he would not. This means that the character trait governs his action. Some virtuous character traits are natural and instinctive, like for example, the trait of benevolence, while some others may be acquired, like for example, justice. When an individual acts as agent, and donates money to a receiver, who may be a starving person, for example, in need of food, then the receiver would feel a warm and agreeable feeling form the act of the agent. If a spectator were to observe these feelings in the receiver, then he would probably experience the same sort of sympathetic feelings that the receiver has just experienced, and these feelings would constitute his moral approval of the act of charity that the agent has just performed. Suppose, on the other hand, the agent was to steal an individual's car, then the spectator would most probably experience feelings of sympathy with the receiver and also feel his substantial pain. He would then qualify the agent's actions as being vicious, as opposed to virtuous. (David Hume, 1711 to 1776, and Moral Theory)

Peter Kreeft is of the opinion that there are some individuals in the world who believe that it is a debatable point whether or not 'personhood' begins at conception, and that he himself, for example, would state that it is indeed true that personhood begins at conception, and of anyone tries to justify that it does not, then it means that he is in fact justifying the issue of 'abortion'. Peter Kreeft goes on to state that he feels that abortion is an evil act, and that any individual who believes that 'peace on earth and goodwill towards men' must be extended towards women and towards children would see this fact clearly, especially if they were to belong to the Christian faith, which believes in the reinforcement of their natural reason and their conscience, and that every single individual on this earth is precious, because of the fact that everyone has been made in the very image of God. (Human Personhood begins at Conception)

Therefore, when it is an issue of whether or not the fetus has a personhood, then certain important points must be considered at the very outset. One is that of whether the fetus is a person, even while it is as yet unborn. If it is not yet a person, then abortion cannot be said to be the direct killing of an innocent person. Secondly, it must be noted that the issue of abortion and personhood is closely related to that of medical ethics, because of the fact that the right to life is seen as a basic and a fundamental right of every human being. This would also mean that a corpse would have no rights. If an individual is not living, then he can have absolutely…

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