Hare and Mitchell – paranoid lunatic and the stranger parables

Two short summaries: Hare’s Parable of the Paranoid Lunatic and Mitchell’s Parable of the Stranger.

RM Hare – The Parable of the Paranoid Lunatic

A certain lunatic is convinced that all dons want to murder him. His friends introduce him to all the mildest and most respectable dons that they can find, and after          each of them has retired, they say, “You see, he doesn’t really want to murder you; he spoke to you in a most cordial manner; surely you are convinced now?” But the lunatic replies, “Yes, but that was only his diabolical cunning; he’s really plotting against me the whole time, like the rest of them; I know it, I tell you.” However many kindly dons are produced, the reaction is still the same.

Basil Mitchell – Parable of the Stranger

In time of war in an occupied country, a member of the resistance meets one night a Stranger who deeply impresses him … The partisan is utterly convinced at that meeting of the Stranger’s sincerity and constancy and undertakes to trust him. They never meet in conditions of intimacy again. But sometimes the Stranger is seen helping members of the resistance, and the partisan is grateful and says to his friends, “He is on our side.” Sometimes he is seen in the uniform of the police handling over patriots to the occupying power. On these occasions his friends murmur against him: but the partisan still says, “He is on our side.” He still believes that, in spite of appearances, the Stranger did not deceive him … Sometimes his friends, in exasperation, say, “Well, what would he have to do for you to admit that you were wrong and that he is not on our side?” But the partisan refuses to answer.


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