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Thread: Evil?

  1. #1

    Evil?

    I have talked to a lot of people and read a lot of stuff saying that there is really no good and evil, because evil depends on your perception of it. Like if Hitler thought that killing all the Jews was a good thing to do and would better the world and Germany, then his act wasn't really evil.

    To me that doesn't really make sense. There are certain standards that the world judges by, and breaking those is evil. Sure, there's some grey area, but I think most things are either good or evil.

    Your thoughts?
    All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, a light from the shadows shall spring; renenwed shall be blade that was broken, the crownless again shall be king.

  2. #2
    Registered User Asa Adams's Avatar
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    utilitarianism

    Utilitarianism holds that the right is fixed by the good. the ends justify the means. meaning that "good" is "hapiness" therefore if one were faced with a decision, he should take the route that brings him the most "hapiness" which could arguably be something horrible to sociatal exceptances. what i mean is that if hitler were to do what made him happy, (eradicating the jews) then this is nolonger a correct or "right" conclusion. Therefore, the Utilitarianism (the ends justify the means) does not apply.

    So one can assume that, good is a perception, as well as evil, therefore one can conclude that this is true.

    very nice, got me thinking there.
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  3. #3
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    People have goals that are intended (extermination of all jews) for them to be happy in the end but even getting what want you want doesn't guarantee happiness. For me though good and evil is more than a percetion. Its part of peoples personalities. No one if pure evil or good but there is a choice.

  4. #4
    The Eternal Fool Union Jack's Avatar
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    I did a longer post on this board about this topic, check the "Why do I have to Die post."

    But I will summarise here...


    There is no ultimate, overriding "good and evil" which governs our existance.

    There is an accepted cultural norm which defines actions as good or evil.

    Good and evil are interpretations of an action, they do not define the action.

    Example, Hitler and the Jews...

    Hitler fully belives that what he is doing is "good" and for the betterment of society and humanity.

    Thus, the act is innocent.

    I look at his act, and based upon my internal value system, come to the conclusion that what he did seems evil to me.

    I THINK his act is evil.

    My thinking so does not define his act as evil, it is merely my impression that it was, this does not make it so.
    "I don't care what you believe in, just believe in it."
    Shepherd Book, Serenity.


    "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts."
    -Bertrand Russell


    "The no-mind not-thinks no-thoughts about no-things"
    -The Buddha

  5. #5
    Registered User jackyyyy's Avatar
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    Evil is a wrong with intent to do a wrong. Falls into lots of categories when I think about it, interesting stuff.
    Art is art.

  6. #6
    I think I agree with jackyyyy. If you commit a wrong with intent to cause harm, or knowing that it will cause harm and doing it anyway, then it is evil. If you do something like eradicating all of the Jews, but you think it will make things better, then you are just insane.
    All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, a light from the shadows shall spring; renenwed shall be blade that was broken, the crownless again shall be king.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by jackyyyy
    Evil is a wrong with intent to do a wrong. Falls into lots of categories when I think about it, interesting stuff.
    The above is quite a Kantian notion of evil. The idea that evil is culturally defined, and thus differs over space and time is, of course, quite Nietzschean - he refered to the '...moiling, toiling sands of morality...'. I could get quite into the this thread, but up to me eyeballs with work at the moment - so will probably just post scraps here and there.

    Colin Turnbull's 'The Mountain People' (about The Ik, a people who have norms and values that Western Contemporary society would consider evil, but - it is argued - are necessary in the harsh environment in which they live) is quite a good case study for the cultural relativist argument.

  8. #8
    learning IrishCanadian's Avatar
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    As dark (literally) is an absence of light (which we can measure, unlike dark), evil is an absence of Good.
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  9. #9
    Registered User jackyyyy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IrishCanadian
    As dark (literally) is an absence of light (which we can measure, unlike dark), evil is an absence of Good.
    How about...

    Evil is an absence of Good
    Good is an absence of Evil.

    or better maybe:

    Evil is an absence of Good and Godliness is an absence of Evil.

    Thanks, IrishCanadian.
    Art is art.

  10. #10
    Registered User jackyyyy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bandini
    The above is quite a Kantian notion of evil. The idea that evil is culturally defined, and thus differs over space and time is, of course, quite Nietzschean - he refered to the '...moiling, toiling sands of morality...'. I could get quite into the this thread, but up to me eyeballs with work at the moment - so will probably just post scraps here and there.

    Colin Turnbull's 'The Mountain People' (about The Ik, a people who have norms and values that Western Contemporary society would consider evil, but - it is argued - are necessary in the harsh environment in which they live) is quite a good case study for the cultural relativist argument.
    I looked the word up, and of course the Devil did get his mention. I don't think I'd think someone evil for knowingly parked their car in the wrong place, but hey.
    Art is art.

  11. #11
    Arbiter of Elegance Arethusa's Avatar
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    I looked the word up, and of course the Devil did get his mention. I don't think I'd think someone evil for knowingly parked their car in the wrong place, but hey.
    That's quantifying evil. What if he parked his car in the wrong place and because of that, the building he parked in front of burned to the ground and many people were killed and/or injured in the fire because the 'wrong place' happened to be in front of the only fire hydrant?

    Now say that the man who parked there, did so because it was the only place to park near a hospital emergency room and he did so without thinking because his child was bleeding to death and every second counted.

    Then let's say, the reason that the child was bleeding to death was because the man was drunk and accidently caused the child's injury.

    No situation defining good or evil is black and white. Millions of extenuating circumstances affect the outcome of every good and bad action. Do we judge this man evil based on the first paragraph or do we take into account his extenuating circumstance? If so, how far back do we go? What if he was drunk for a reason one would consider valid, (there may be many valid reasons, depending on your own perception)? What does that make him? Good or evil?

    There is no absolute good or evil, imho. With the exception, and only for some people, of God and Satan.
    "Extremem hun, Arethusa, mihi concede laborem"

    I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman where the Self Help section was, she said if she told me it would defeat the purpose.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Arethusa
    That's quantifying evil. What if he parked his car in the wrong place and because of that, the building he parked in front of burned to the ground and many people were killed and/or injured in the fire because the 'wrong place' happened to be in front of the only fire hydrant?

    Now say that the man who parked there, did so because it was the only place to park near a hospital emergency room and he did so without thinking because his child was bleeding to death and every second counted.

    Then let's say, the reason that the child was bleeding to death was because the man was drunk and accidently caused the child's injury.

    No situation defining good or evil is black and white. Millions of extenuating circumstances affect the outcome of every good and bad action. Do we judge this man evil based on the first paragraph or do we take into account his extenuating circumstance? If so, how far back do we go? What if he was drunk for a reason one would consider valid, (there may be many valid reasons, depending on your own perception)? What does that make him? Good or evil?

    There is no absolute good or evil, imho. With the exception, and only for some people, of God and Satan.

    He's a prat - but not evil. I don't agree with Kant wholeheartedly, but there has to be some degree of volition involved with evil, I reckon.

  13. #13
    Arbiter of Elegance Arethusa's Avatar
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    So...being a prat is not evil? Not even just a tiny leetle beet?

    What if you are without evil intent but so self absorbed that you cause injury to others, perhaps even on a regular basis? Do you have to be consciously evil to be evil? Do I have enough question marks in this post?
    "Extremem hun, Arethusa, mihi concede laborem"

    I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman where the Self Help section was, she said if she told me it would defeat the purpose.

  14. #14
    Registered User jackyyyy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arethusa
    That's quantifying evil. What if he parked his car in the wrong place and because of that, the building he parked in front of burned to the ground and many people were killed and/or injured in the fire because the 'wrong place' happened to be in front of the only fire hydrant?

    Now say that the man who parked there, did so because it was the only place to park near a hospital emergency room and he did so without thinking because his child was bleeding to death and every second counted.

    Then let's say, the reason that the child was bleeding to death was because the man was drunk and accidently caused the child's injury.

    No situation defining good or evil is black and white. Millions of extenuating circumstances affect the outcome of every good and bad action. Do we judge this man evil based on the first paragraph or do we take into account his extenuating circumstance? If so, how far back do we go? What if he was drunk for a reason one would consider valid, (there may be many valid reasons, depending on your own perception)? What does that make him? Good or evil?

    There is no absolute good or evil, imho. With the exception, and only for some people, of God and Satan.
    If he parked in the wrong place to get the sick child to a doctor and the child was not saved, a huge pile up occured, the building collapsed and 1000s were killed. The intent is not there, its not evil. Interestingly, 'manslaughter' is classed as voluntary or involuntary, negligence being an example. I can see differences between 'with intent' and 'without intent' and quantifying it is precarious. But, who and what would the exceptions be?
    Art is art.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Arethusa
    So...being a prat is not evil? Not even just a tiny leetle beet?

    What if you are without evil intent but so self absorbed that you cause injury to others, perhaps even on a regular basis? Do you have to be consciously evil to be evil? Do I have enough question marks in this post?
    I think it does have to be conscious to be evil - you can still be a proper wanker who should take himself right out of the gene pool; but not evil.

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