Experimenter (2015) Poster

(2015)

Peter Sarsgaard: Stanley Milgram

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Quotes 

  • Stanley Milgram : I believe we are puppets with perception, with awareness. Sometimes we can see the strings. And perhaps our awareness is the first step in our liberation.

  • Stanley Milgram : Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.

  • Stanley Milgram : Human nature can be studied but not escaped, especially your own.

  • Stanley Milgram : We are double in ourselves. What we believe we disbelieve, and we can not rid ourselves of what we condemn.

  • Stanley Milgram : There was a time, I suspect, when men and women could give a fully human response to any situation, when we could be fully absorbed, in the world, as human beings, but more often now people don't get to see the whole situation but only some small part of it. There's a division of labour and people carry out small, narrow, specialised jobs and we can't act without some sort of direction from on high. I call this the agentic state. The individual yields to authority and in doing so becomes alienated from his own actions. The agentic state is 'store policy', it's 'I'm just doing my job', or 'that's not my job', or 'I don't make the rules', 'we don't do that here'. 'just following orders', 'it's the law'. In the agentic state the individual defines himself as an instrument carrying out the wishes of others - a soldier, a nurse, an administrator, an actor, a corporate employee, or even, yes, academics and artists.

  • Stanley Milgram : The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities.

  • Stanley Milgram : There was a time, I suspect, when men and women could give a fully human response to any situation. When we could be fully absorbed in the world as human beings. But more often, now, people don't get to see the whole situation but only some small part of it. There's a division of labor, and people carry out small, narrow, specialized jobs, and we can't act without some kind of direction from on high. I call this "the agentic state". The individual yields to authority, and in doing so becomes alienated from his own actions.

  • Stanley Milgram : I hit this line about child development. It's the specific point when the growing child is able to recognize a gap between what exists and what might exist. And it occurred to me, we choose our reality when we choose another person.

    Alexandra 'Sasha' Milgram : What does that mean? Marriage is not a fantasy.

    Stanley Milgram : No, no, no, right. Right. But it is a choice. You have to know that I choose you. Every day I choose you.

  • Curtis : You forced people to torture other people.

    Stanley Milgram : No.

    Curtis : To see if they...

    Stanley Milgram : No, no, no. That is alien to my view. No one was forced. The experimenter told the subject to perform an action. What happened between the command and the outcome is the individual, with conscience and a will, who can ether obey or disobey.

  • Stanley Milgram : Do you ever feel invincible in one moment and then worthless the next?

  • Stanley Milgram : The experiment taught me something about the plasticity of human nature. Not the evil, not the aggressiveness but a certain kind of malleability.

  • Stanley Milgram : There are times when your life resembles a bad movie, but nothing prepares you if your life actually becomes a bad movie.

  • Stanley Milgram : Less than six degrees of separation exist between you and several million strangers who you may or may not encounter in your lifetime. When we understand the structure of this communication net, we stand to grasp a good deal more about the fabric of society. Maybe it's not necessarily justified, this common human complaint. The feeling that we're all cut off, alienated, and alone. I don't need to go into detail do I?

  • [last lines] 

    Stanley Milgram : Alexandra Milgram, Sasha, continues to live in the apartment we shared in Riverdale. Our children live with their children near Boston and Toronto. Sasha never remarried.

    Stanley Milgram : The obedience experiments are cited and discussed in nearly every introductory psychology textbook worldwide. My obedience film is screened for every incoming class at West Point. And my methods and results continue to be challenged, scorned, debunked, yet every time a new outrage is unleashed into the world, sanctioned and systematic acts of violence, the obedience experiments re-enter the conversation, re-framing unanswerable questions.

    Stanley Milgram : You could say we're puppets. But I believe that we are puppets with perception - with awareness. Sometimes we can see the strings and, perhaps, our awareness is the first step in our liberation.

  • Stanley Milgram : Did you just give that guy there your phone number?

    Alexandra 'Sasha' Milgram : [looks back to where she was a minute ago] 

    Stanley Milgram : So if I wanted your number, I can get it from him?

  • Stanley Milgram : How do civilized human beings participate in destructive, inhumane acts? How was genocide implemented so systematically, so efficiently? And how did the perpetrators of these murders live with themselves?

  • Donna Abbott : How do you justify the deception?

    Stanley Milgram : I like to think of it as illusion, not deception. Semantics, you may say, but illusion, you know, has a revelatory function, as in a play. Illusion can set the stage for revelation, to reveal certain difficult-to-get-at truths.

    Donna Abbott : But still, when you go to see a play, you pay for a ticket. You know you're seeing a play. These people didn't know it wasn't real. You tricked them.

    Stanley Milgram : "Hello, today we'll be doing an experiment about blind obedience to malevolent authority. I'd like for you to pretend that this machine is delivering painful shocks to a person in the other room." How truthful do you think that would be?

    Donna Abbott : But if you think of it, really, *you* were delivering shocks to your subjects. Psychological shocks.

  • Stanley Milgram : I don't get along with all my students. The "flash in the pan?" How many people can manage even that flash? I've done some psych experiments, but in my mind I'm still about to write my great Broadway musical.

  • Stanley Milgram : Stanley Milgram: The kind of character produced in American society can't be counted on to insulate its citizens from brutality and inhumane treatment in response to a malevolent authority.

  • Stanley Milgram : [just before taking his picture]  Do you ever feel invincible one moment and then worthless the next?

See also

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