The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas - Vol. 1

By Edward Westermarck | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXII
BODILY INJURIES

CLOSELY related to the right to life is the right to bodily integrity. Indeed, homicide is, generally speaking, the highest form of bodily injury which can, in the nature of things, be inflicted, although there are some forms of ill-treatment which are more terrible than death itself.1

In the case of bodily injuries the magnitude of the offence is, other things being equal, proportionate to the harm inflicted. At the lower stages of civilisation we meet with the principle of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, or the offender has to pay an adequate compensation for the injury.2 It is said in the Laws of Manu that, if a blow is struck against men in order to give them pain, the judge shall inflict a fine in proportion to the amount of pain caused.3 According to Muhammedan law, retaliation for intentional wounds and mutilations is allowed, but a fine may be accepted instead. The fine for depriving a man of any of his five senses, or dangerously wounding him, or grievously disfiguring him for life, or cutting off a member that is single, as the

____________________
1
Cf. Stephen, History of the Criminal Law of England, iii. 11.
2
Post, Afrikanische Jurisprudenz, ii. 61sqq. Munzinger, Ostafrikanische Studien, pp. 208 (Takue), 502 (Barea and Kunáma). Burton, Two Trips to Gorilla Land, i. 105 (Mpongwe). Maclean, Compendium of Kafir Laws and Customs, p. 61sq. Macpherson, Memorials of Service in India, p. 82 (Kandhs). Earl, Papuans, p. 83 (Papuans of Dory). Kubary, Die socialen Einrichtungen der Pelauer, p. 74 (Pelew Islanders). Petroff, "'Report on Alaska,'" in Tenth Census of the United States, p. 105 (Thlinkets).
3
Laws of Manu, viii. 286.

-511-

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