From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
- "One ought to learn anew about cruelty," said Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil, 229), "and open one's eyes. Almost everything that we call 'higher culture' is based upon the spiritualizing and intensifying of cruelty...."
Cruel ways of inflicting suffering may involve violence, but violence is not necessary for an act to be cruel. For example, if another person is drowning and begging for help, and another person is able to help, but merely watches with disinterested amusement or pleasure, that person is being cruel — not violent.
Cruelty usually carries connotations of supremacy over a submissive or weaker force.
The term cruelty is often used with regard to the treatment of animals, children and prisoners. See: punishment, draconian, and cruel and unusual punishment. When cruelty to animals is discussed, it often refers to unnecessary suffering.
Usage in law
The term cruelty is often used in law and criminology with regard to the treatment of animals, children, spouses, and prisoners. When cruelty to animals is discussed, it often refers to unnecessary suffering. In criminal law, it refers to punishment, torture, victimization, draconian measures, and cruel and unusual punishment. In divorce cases, many jurisdictions permit a cause of action for cruel and inhumane treatment.
- Cruelty to animals
- Theatre of Cruelty
- Theatre of Cruelty, an essay by Artaud
- Masochism: Coldness and Cruelty, a book by Gilles Deleuze