Regarding the Pain of Others - Study Guide Chapter 9 Summary & Analysis

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Sontag concedes that merely displaying images of suffering does little, in and of itself, to mediate that suffering. She insists, however, that it is beneficial to increase the public's awareness as to the extent of man's ability to cause suffering. Such awareness, she argues, is necessary to achieve moral and psychological maturity. There can therefore be no societal benefit to avoiding such truths.

Sontag admits that images of suffering are tokens, a mere representation of the crimes they record. Nevertheless, she asserts that such tokens are necessary to remind viewers as to the character of mankind; a character which can willingly, even enthusiastically, bring suffering upon its fellow man. This, she contends, is different from remembering a single transgression. Rather, it involves remembering mankind's propensity for transgression.

Sontag argues that too much emphasis is placed on memory, not enough on thinking. She sympathizes with the...

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