I’ve wondered for a while now what kind of a thing called honor could possibly be restored by killing someone. Honor is an abstract concept, so we can only really understand it by viewing its effects, and this particular abstract has had me perplexed for decades.
The existence of duels taught me that honor isn’t something integral to a person. I know that it’s supposed to be. All the stories tell me so. They tell me that so-and-so is a man or woman of honor, that this protagonist or that historical figure behaved with honor.
However, when honor can be taken away by a word and only returned on the point of a sword or the ball of a pistol, it can’t be internal. You can behave bravely and altruistically, and your honor can still be lost–to a lie, no less! Then it can only be returned by public contest. So honor, as it turns out, is really just petty reputation.
Then there is honor killing, or should we call it “reputation killing.” [Read more…]