New Criticals

[The criminal] retorts by putting the blame on bad early surroundings, the temptations of others, lack of opportunities, and the persecution of officers of the law. Both are right, except in the wholesale character of their recitation. But the effect of both sides is to throw the whole matter back into antecedent causation, a method which refuses to bring the matter to truly moral judgment. For morals has to do with acts still within our control, acts still to be performed. No amount of guilt on the part of the evil-doer absolves us from the responsibility for the consequences upon him and others of our way treating him, or form our continuing responsibility for the conditions under which person develop perverse habits.

The dichotomy between individual and society is false. The truth of the "I" is not a disjunct, but a conjunct: we are both individual and social. Our individuality is not wholly free to form in a vacuum, nor is it something wholly determined by social and historical forces. Likewise, our "free will" does not emerge from dust like Adam being molded out of clay, nor is it completely overdetermined by our environment and our past. In understanding the ontology of the criminal we understand the ontology of the "individual" as such. The "I" is both individual and social, subject and object, independent and dependent, past, present and future at once. We are not integrated and simple individuals, but fractured and complicated dividuals, all of these things at every moment—no gem is pure, no crystal is single-sided.