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Related: gratuitous - sadism - aggression
Masochism : Coldness and Cruelty (1967) - Gilles Deleuze
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Cruelty, very far from being a vice, is the first sentiment Nature injects in us all. The infant breaks his toy, bites his nurse's breast, strangles his canary long before he is able to reason; cruelty is stamped in animals, in whom, as I think I have said, Nature's laws are more emphatically to be read than in ourselves; cruelty exists amongst savages, so much nearer to Nature than civilized men are. --Sade, Philosophy in the Bedroom
"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.... Then, to be sure, we must put aside teaching the blundering psychology of former times, which could only teach with regard to cruelty that it originated at the sight of the suffering of others; there is an abundant, superabundant enjoyment even in one's own suffering, in causing one's own suffering."
DefinitionCruelty is indifference to suffering and even positive pleasure in inflicting it. Cruel ways of inflicting suffering may involve violence, but violence is not necessary for an act to be cruel. For example, not helping the one who drowns and begs for a helping hand, and watching it with disinterested amusement or pleasure instead is not an act of violence, but is an instance of cruelty.
Cruelty is inherited in human nature, and some apes are capable of cruelty too. No other animal is known that feels pleasure in seing other suffer. According to Nietzsche, almost all higher culture comes from spiritualization of cruelty. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cruelty 
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