Evil in the Eye of the Beholder?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Guyute, Nov 3, 2003.

  1. invert_nexus Ze do caixao Valued Senior Member


    Actually, I'd suggest otherwise. Unless you've read every post in all 12 pages of this thread.
    Have you?
    I doubt it. So how can you be sure that what you are saying hasn't already been said before? What you're doing is sorta like attaching yourself to someone else's star.

    By the way, Guyute bumped the thread. He was the thread starter. Did you even read enough of the thread to realize that?

    His purpose behind the bump seems enigmatic. He certainly didn't bring anything new to the discussion with his bump. What was he trying to say? His post sounded vaguely religious.

    Anyway, it's farily obvious that morals are personal and not universal. Morals exist only as abstract concept and not as some 'truth' handed down from above. Any who argue otherwise are blinded by faith.

    This new debate is funny. Isn't everyone saying the same thing? Where are the dissenters? Can you have a debate when everyone is busily clapping each other on the back and saying the same thing?

    Quite right, good fellow.
    Jolly good show, what?
    Ho ho, chip chip, cheerio.
    Well said. Bravo.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2005
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  3. §outh§tar is feeling caustic Registered Senior Member

    I agree. Very good.

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  5. Jan Ardena Valued Senior Member


    That is a perception of 'evil'. The question is; what is evil?


    So what is 'evil?'

    What type of a person would think his/her act of murder is an act of righteousness? I think only a person who has no objection to the murder of himself or people close to him/her, could seriously harbour that belief. But what would that say about them?

    The act is a part of the whole thing, generally it is the part we can experience.

    Funnily enough to murder or to kill for pleasure or sport as opposed to killing for survival, is what qualifies as evil.

    What do you mean by mental anguish?

    Why would you chop off someones leg?
    Your intention would play a big role.

    Let's say you chopped off the leg because you didn't like the way that person dressed and you thought you'd teach them a lesson, and then answer this question.
    Would you like your leg to be amputated for such a reason?

    Now lets say you chopped a leg off to stop a disease from spreading to the rest of your body and then answer this question.
    Would you like your leg chopped off for such a reason?

    Would that truly satisfy you?

    Do you have any examples of this?

    Evil needn't result in any type of anxiety for the onlooker as they may well be conditioned into thinking that that act is okay, but the fact that this is so does not mean the act was not evil.

    Where's the evil (traditional or otherwise) in that?

    Jan Ardena.
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  7. invert_nexus Ze do caixao Valued Senior Member

    Jan Ardena,

    Uh. You're one of the members of this thread from long ago that was pushing forward the idea that 'evil' is something real and handed down from above, right?

    Your question is ludicrous if you are trying to use it to defend evil as a 'real' entity. I presume that the evil that these relativists are talking about is not the 'true' evil that you're talking about?

    Are you serious? Christians, for one. Or practically anyone else, for another. Humans are funny that way. It's not so much that it is an act of 'righteousness' as right is also in the eye of the beholder, but rather that people tend to see their point of view as righteous and other's points of view as wrong or evil.

    This is just sheer idiocy, I'm afraid.

    The act is nothing. Only the interpretation of the act is seen as evil.
    Example: The aztecs murdered thousands and thousands of people on the altar of sacrifice. Were they evil? I'm sure you'd call them so. But to them they were utterly righteous. This was the way.

    Now. This example can lend itself to your idea that people that view murder as righteous being of the type that wouldn't object to their own murder. Many of these sacrifices went to the altar willingly. However, there are other types of killers who don't want to die. Take a page from the bible, for instance. The hebrews invading the Holy Land were bloodthirsty murderers full of 'righteousness'. And they didn't want to die. And they didn't want their loved ones to die. And yet they gladly killed every last living thing in the land they invaded. Well, all except those they lovingly placed into slavery.

    Says who? You?

    Or suppose your leg was chopped off as a sacrifice to the gods. Unwillingly.
    Or how about if your leg was chopped off to feed a tribe of cannibals.

    Both of these instances are matters of survival. The first only a mythological belief but real enough to those who believe and the second is truly a matter of survival. Food.

    What if you were ignorant of medicine and amputations and you thought that your leg was just chopped off for spite by malignant devils?

    Why not? And if this is so, then how are you to be sure that your view on evil is the correct one. I am sure that these people who live so differently to you have customs which they would call evil which you perform unflinchingly. Who the hell are you to say your judgement is the crucial one?
    Oh. Yes. A christian. That's right. You win.
  8. Jan Ardena Valued Senior Member

    Jan Ardena,

    I stated that "it is intentionally causing harm to other living beings for the purpose of ones own selfish interest. I believe it is therefore universal."

    There is nothing ludicrous about asking questions in the hope that the answers may give more clarity to a particular point.

    The intention is stated above.

    Well this is why we ask questions.


    Why did you pick out Christians in particular, don't they come under the "anyone else" title?
    If not..why not?

    This has nothing to do with what evil is, only what the perception of evil is. Where did this concept (according to a relative definition) come from?

    What is sheer idiocy?

    Now that's an idiotic point.
    Is it not the act that causes one to interpret it as evil?

    Do you think their actions (if true) were right or righteous?

    If they went of their own free-will then why do you call it murder?
    What do you think would have happened if they chose not to be sacrificed, sacrificial postponment?

    Why not let's take another page from the bible (seeing as you're so obsessed with it) In the begining God created the heavens, the earth and all therein.

    If i'm not mistaken, it was me who said that.

    You didn't answer the question.

    Show me where?

    Why are you so obsessed with religion?

    Jan Ardena.
  9. Chairman_meow Registered Senior Member

    evil is absolutely in the eye of the beholder.

    one mans terrorist is another mans saviour.
  10. geistkiesel Valued Senior Member

    Whaever one's upbringng or state of menatal health anyone instinctively avoiding capture, afer a bank robbery is pretty good evidence that the person who robbed the bank knew it was a bd thikng to do, as carazy or as mentally deficient in the gray cells, challenged for their manifestation of aceptable measure of self-behavior control evidence of flight coincidental tot the deed means suffcieint moral awareness whatever the indices of perceptive potential may be measured, "Being one ham sandwich short of a picnic lunch," does not rise to the level of a moral or a legal, excuse.

    Matthew 5:28 " . . .everyone who keeps on looking at a woman so as to have passion for her ..." has already commited adultry. he operative word ere i"who keeps on looking" so as to have a passion for has already . . .
    It is not the mere fact that "a passion was created when when looking at another " it is the continuation of that looking that is th eoar tha drives the imopulse to excesss. The conscious stimulations of ones self to activity of constituting violations of law that are singled out here as immoral. To keep on looking at ones neughbor, wife, husband etc for the purpose 'so as to have passion for ' ' has been defined though hidden somewhat in a religious tract.of The words ,as to have poassion for them is where th eline haas beens.]
    There is nothing wrong with the 'beholder theory' as long as penal sanctions, punishment, does not follow the mere accusation from one that suffered a wounded eye thatfrom one who keeps on looking or "kept on looking" as this would not be a violation of law per se and hence should not beinserted into legal procedures nor the criminal code.

  11. invert_nexus Ze do caixao Valued Senior Member

    Quite right. I read this thread in it's entirety quite some time ago and I seemed to recall you being one of the bible bangers.
    I've erred.
    However, I just went back through this thread again and realize that I have nothing to add.
    Your whole argument has been utterly and hopeless smashed by the efforts of others in that age long ago when this thread was fresh and shiny.
    I see no reason to dust off old arguments to present once more.
    They didn't phase you then and they certainly won't phase you now.

    I don't doubt that I could add a certain viewpoint or two that wasn't mentioned in here in the past. But, even so I find no reason to do so.

    Thread's dead. (Long dead.) You lose.

    God damnit!
    Ok. Just one.

    No. The act is nothing in itself. Only the interpretation of the act counts.
    Witness. Two people observe the exact same phenomenon. One pronounces it evil. The other pronounces it good. What's the difference between these two people? They possess different interpretive mechanisms.
    They live in different worlds because of this.

    This is the human condition.
  12. banana Registered Member

    Indeed, I have read only 1/13 of this thread, so hopefully I'm not repeating anything.

    I agree. However, might it be possible that ultimately there is only one 'correct' interpretive mechanism, thus making evil an absolute? This interpretive mechanism would belong to a perfectly rational being who is able to take into account the interests of every living thing on the entire world, and understands what is best for them. Such a being would be able to predict infinitely far into the future because its knowledge is immaculate, and discern evil immediately as being something that would be detrimental to the world as a whole or the societies therein. Of course, atheists believe that such a being does not exist, but I think the concept is not unreasonable nor inconceivable. Whether or not the being exists is beside the point; if a standard of judgement is possible, then people who do not achieve this standard must possess a degenerate interpretive mechanism and therefore cannot incontrovertibly assert something as evil. In other words, only the belief that something is evil is in the eye of the beholder.
  13. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

    "I agree. However, might it be possible that ultimately there is only one 'correct' interpretive mechanism, thus making evil an absolute?"

    How though, can a human identify this correctness other than self-righteousness?
  14. Jan Ardena Valued Senior Member


    One of the bible bangers heh?
    I wasn't aware of any bible bangers on this thread.

    Because there is nothing to add as you already have a conclusion, ‘God does not exist;, based on ‘God can not exist’.
    To entertain the idea of evil as real, is to admit that humans are special creatures which gives a strong argument for creation, which means their must be a creator.

    There has been no argument apart from ‘evil is relative’ which is not an argument, IMO, but a cop-out.

    What arguments?
    The so-called argument is based on dogma the foundation of which is 'God can not exist' and anything which leads the mind to such conclusions must be destroyed at all cost, even logic and reason.

    So far there is nothing to be phased by.

    Give it your best shot.

  15. beyondtimeandspace Everlasting Student Registered Senior Member

    I would like to point something out. Maybe it's already been pointed out here, I don't know, but I'm not going to read all 13 pages of this thread to find out. It is true that people view different things, or actions as good or evil. That is indisputable. As Chairman_Meow so poignantly stated, one man's terrorist is another man's savior. YES, this is a fact of reality THAT, different people hold different views.

    There you have it, different people hold different views. This however has absolutely no bearing on the question of whether or not evil is relative or absolute. I would have thought that centuries ago people had learned that individual opinion is not the determinant of external truth. What seems to be happening here is that people are starting with the conclusion: Evil and Good are relative terms. It seems that when beginning the argument this is already believed. All that they do afterwards is proceed to provide superficial evidence to then, once again, conclude the conclusion that they already believed. Hence, "What one person sees as good, another person sees as evil." Therefore these terms are relative ones.

    This doesn't answer the question though. JUST BECAUSE one person sees something as good while the other person sees it as evil doesn't by necessity mean that they are relative terms. That is like saying, the blue chair is seen as blue by a person who's eyes are functioning normally and black by someone who is colorblind, HENCE, colors are relative. BUT WE KNOW that this isn't the case. We know that the reason that an item seems one color rather than another is because it really is that color, and when the light rays hit that object, it absords all the other colors except that which it already contains, which it then reflects, and is then absorbed into our eyes, and we see the color that that object is. The chair really is blue, just that the colorblind person doesn't see it due to a defect. Likewise, just because two people see good and evil in different ways doesn't necessarily mean that they are relative terms. It may in fact be the case that they are relative terms, but using the argument thus: "one man's terrorist is another man's savior" is not a valid argument to use to prove such a conclusion. It may in fact be the case that there is an absolute moral rule, but that due to the defect of ignorance, or improperly formed consciences, whatever, one person is unable to see that a given action is good or evil.

    You cannot use the argument of different interpretive mechanisms, or different points of view, or the like to prove that moral law is relative. It is an invalid argument as it does not prove the conclusion that you seek. You must use a different argument. If you're looking for a good place to start, you should start by first defining that which is good and evil. I think Medicine Woman did good to start this process, it would be wise to go back and read what she has to say.
  16. invert_nexus Ze do caixao Valued Senior Member

    'Live' spelled backwards.

    Evil is nothing but a word.
  17. kriminal99 Registered Senior Member

    People do not invent ideas, the world inspires them to have ideas. It's not someone else's star. Obviously if everyone always read everything ever written by anyone on a subject they were considering then they would have absolutely no free time, especially since most people can't communicate ideas well and even ones that can communicate well usually are still far from perfect...

    What is evil? Im saying it started out as probably just a word you label someone when they are angry at you and acting spitefully. Then from there it gets related to certain acts like murder. Then people might relate it to any act that benefits themselves at the expense of others. But in the end none of these things makes any sense. Words do not have some meaning beyond what we give them. The idea of Evil is a human construction, and a bad one at that. Its definition is probably related to the emotion of anger at someone.
  18. duendy Registered Senior Member

    i'm suggesting the idea of an evil in conflict with a good begins with Zoroastrianism.......influencing Judiac-Christianity, where the latter comes up ith its indoctrination of 'absolute dualism--the idea being that good will eventually CONQUEr 'evil'.......what all this devisive indoctrination dos is split the individual in two. which givs the belief that the mind must be at war with the body, which of course includes Nature. and that anyone or anything that contradicts this ignore-ant belief must be.......guessed it?....yip, 'EVIL'...

    so is evil in the eye of the beholder. well obviously for the above people who will see evil lurking everywhere....in Christianty's past they have virtually demonized nearly EVERY thing. including, Standing Stones, cats, musical chords (that are too 'sensuous'), dancing, visions not sancitified by the Church, people's NDEs, you name it!....
    but what about..is thee an evil we can all agree with when we look at it. Are any of you familiar with the Moors Murderers, Myra Hindley and Ian Brady. For 'fun' they kidnapped young children and sexually tortured them to death. now surely you will agree that they are evil.....?
  19. VossistArts 3MTA3 Registered Senior Member


    I still think highly misguided, certainly criminal, works ok.
  20. Jan Ardena Valued Senior Member

    It goes without saying that they are criminals, but so is someone who breaks into toy 'r' us to get her kiddie a toy for christmas.
    Are you joking?
    Would you agree that if the word evil means to cause harm to other living beings in such a way, then these people are evil, regardless of whether you believe evil exists or not?

    Jan Ardena.
  21. VossistArts 3MTA3 Registered Senior Member

    Yeah Im not big on joking like that. Sure Id agree if I were to accept your definition rather than the common one which says evil is inherently wrong and destructive by nature, devoid of ignorance or pathology. I have not been made aware of an instance where a person who has done such apparently unfathomable harm who has escaped being either very ignorant or definable by some tangible pathology or mental illness. That isnt to say it hasnt happened, its just to say that Im not aware of such a case. I strictly avoid applying the concept of evil to things because I so disagree with the intention and probably cause of its creation. In my opinion the word seeks to banish the thing its applied to out of fear and revulsion in place of understanding or intelligence. Its reactionary. That sort of method, or approach, again partly only my opinion, goes further to perpetuate what wed like to call evil than eradicate it. You cant really hope to make progress with curing the greatest ills that we might experience by banishing or killing them before attempting to understand them.

    Also Im not trying to suggest you feel about the word the way I do in case youre not sure. Of course feel free to use the language however you like it best

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  22. banana Registered Member

    In my mind I don't see any reason why there is a problem with the word 'evil.' I believe that everything in the world can be divided into good and evil, the former being that which improves the livelihood of all living things in general and the latter being the opposite. There is really no middle ground because the whole universe is interconnected, and a disturbance, however minute, can have a significant effect that can be classified as either good or evil. This is basically chaos theory, as I understand it. Of course on this basis there is no practical way to identify an action at a particular moment as either good or evil; only time can tell, and even then one cannot know for sure. So perhaps, as VossistArts said, we should avoid labelling something as evil because we have limited knowledge and understanding. The most obvious example is the situation in Iraq, which at the moment appears to be an auspicious beginning for democracy. Not too long ago there were many who denounced George Bush's actions and even compared it to the Vietnam war. As for more extreme instances such as murder, though often the motive is undeniably evil, it is not difficult to imagine that some good can result. I realize that I have just used the 'evil' label, but there is an important distinction between motives and actions. The ideological world of motives is, unlike reality, absolute and in itself complete (since when we carry out a certain course of action, we have an idea of the end result). This means that the above principle can be definitively applied and be used to judge whether or not a motive is evil. Considering Jan's example of a person breaking into a toy store to obtain a present for her child, I think that if she is truly ignorant of the consequences of her actions for the store then her motive must be good. Nevertheless it is fairly evident that her actions would be injurious to the store owner, and therefore are most likely evil. I don't think we can simply say that this person is good or evil because of the dichotomy between actions and motives.

    p.s. I apologize for being a bit verbose and circuitous - this is mostly train-of-thought stuff and I don't feel like re-writing it. =P
  23. Jolly Rodger Banned Banned

    your evil

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