It was due to some remark of theirs that the debate took on a less abstract tone, and all the company joined in a discussion of torture, cremation, and punishment -- both capital and corporal. It was Ferdinand Wehsal who introduced the last-named; with obvious relish, Hans Castorp observed. As was to be expected, Herr Settembrini, in high-sounding words, invoked the dignity of the human race against a procedure whose results were as devastating in education as in penology. And equally to be expected, though rendered startling by a certain kind of gloomy ferocity, was Naphta's approval of the bastinado. According to him, it was absurd to prate about human dignity, since true dignity indwelt not in the flesh but in the spirit; thus pain, by rendering bitter to him the things of the senses, was highly efficacious, driving him back to the spirit and giving the latter the mastery over the flesh. It was shallow to contend that the discipline of the whipping-post had anything particularly shameful about it. Saint Elizabeth had been flogged by her confessor, Conrad von Marburg, until the blood came, and by such means her soul was rapt "to the third choir of angels." She herself, moreover, had beaten with rods an old woman who was too sleepy to make her confession. The members of a certain sect, and even other persons of devout and serious character, submitted to flagellation in order that the spiritual impulse might be strengthened. Would anyone seriously contend that such a procedure was barbarous and inhuman? It was true that corporal punishment was on the decline in certain countries which considered themselves in the van of progress; but the belief that such a decline was a sign of enlightenment became only the more comic the longer it persisted.
Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain, Chapter 6, Operationes Spirituales
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