The paradox of human character!

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by famansour, Jan 1, 2020.

  1. famansour Registered Member

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    By Googling Pessimism vs Optimism, Generosity vs Selfishness or any two other extreme human characters, I found tons of pros and cons on each side.

    As a result, I wonder if human characters are relative and related to situations; therefore, abstractly labeling them as qualities or negative traits is an oversimplification…

    In other words, "Good vs bad" is a very poor model for human character, instead, the relation is much more complex and totally dependent on the situation.
     
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  3. origin In a democracy you deserve the leaders you elect. Valued Senior Member

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    Yep, humans are not just good or bad but shades of gray. However, some evil actions by a person so far out shadow any good actions by that person, that it would be correct to call them bad or evil. For example I don't care if a serial rapist donated some of his time to work in food pantry he is still evil.
     
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  5. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    There is a large literary record, far better than "By Googling Pessimism vs Optimism, Generosity vs Selfishness". Large enough, for instance, that I'm wondering if it was Aquinas, More, or somone else entirely, but the occasion of arguing passionately about the evil of a blind horse ought to make some sort of point, as does the proposition of digging it out from the record. I have a note on it, somewhere.

    Meanwhile, along the way in this extraordinary human adventure in seeking the nature of, "Good vs bad", and other questions of a "model for human character", some other philosophers got around to disputing whether angels moved or not, and somewhere along the line someone asserted they were perfectly happy never moving, because they existed in their own perfection, and there was also a compromise position nobody ever understood, explaining that an angel moves too fast to see.

    There was a Prussian philosopher who once argued that defenders are the ones who start wars because they could avoid war by simply giving over to the invaders; his purpose in doing so was to explain the morality of war to a handful of imperial militarists.

    In truth, "Googling Pessimism vs Optimism, Generosity vs Selfishness or any two other extreme human characters", isn't the best place to begin explorations of human character. You'll find that despite other terms, the basic quantification of "good vs. bad" endures because it is so simply binary. Progressive or regressive, holy or unholy, clean or dirty, social or antisocial, good or evil—there are many such dualisms—come back to an assessment of positive or negative, benefit or harm, that is most basically represented by the dualism of "good vs. bad". Market-driven resources like a Google search result on consumerist dualisms are only reliable unto themselves as a statistic.

    Part of what you're doing is challenging the basic dualism; this is a potentially useful course. To the other, there is an old idea of reinventing the wheel; but I have a memory from youth, that the first time I encountered the word "firelighter", it wasn't an actual firelighter, but a joke in a children's story in which the inventor's wife scolds, no, he just reinvented a matchstick. I was in my twenties before I encountered real firelighters. Furthermore, as an American, a Google search for firelighter does return leading with an entry about firelighters proper, but the commerce offering above that are two butane lighters, a USB-rechargeable "electric fire" device, and no actual firelighters.
     
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  7. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    gee, wow! What an insight!
    Good and bad are never - or only by the most simplistic religious demagogues - applied to human character. Different social organizations evaluate character traits according to different criteria. There is a wide overlap in what characteristics are regarded as virtues - those qualities that benefit the perceived/stated interest of the community at large. There is a narrower but still substantial overlap regarding vices - traits or activities that are considered to harm the community. The spokesman, a philosopher or priest, for each society, culture,historical period, nation, ideological movement or whatever articulates the desired human type to aspire for and vilifies what's described as the opposite, which is to be avoided, prevented or eradicated.
    Problems arise when a society has two or more incompatible ideals.
     
  8. kx000 Valued Senior Member

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    Humans are good or evil, evil lying dormant. But, I do believe our lives are more centered around pleasure and pain.
     
  9. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    Carrot and stick. Sometimes the carrot is more effective, sometimes the stick. Sometimes the perpetrator and the victim don't agree on which would be more effective.
     
  10. kx000 Valued Senior Member

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    I see violence as the paradox, kind of a spy vs spy thing.
     

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