What is Evil?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by nicholas1M7, Aug 7, 2006.

  1. nicholas1M7 Banned Banned

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    How do you define, quantify, qualify it? Is there an objective definition? Doctors are faced with medical dilemmas and subject to moral evil. Think of goodness, free will and determination, responsibility, and so-called "necessary evil". What about when evil is used to stop evil, does evil triumph, and in such a situation when is it that the resistance against evil augment evil itself, ultimately making evil triumph? Consider that humans are complex creatures and variables have to be considered, like, for example, the degree of free-will versus determination that plays into ones decision. Consider natural disasters and psychology as being beyond choice. But also consider when one has alternatives and knows the difference between necessary and unnecessary actions. Is killing "good" when you do it for your country, but bad when its personal? Does evil to one man grant him the right to evil in return? There can also be a range of evils, some more moral and more natural than others. Moral evil by definition involves the element of free will/choice. Must pain and suffering be weighed to judge the action of a person, or should one consider the progenitor's role and knowledge first? The sciences have indicated that we are all, to some degree, conditioned to every act. Pain and suffering must be addressed before the act and there must be the question of necessary versus unnecessary evil. Maybe evil is just a primal term that says more about our ignorance than anything else and is a surviving concept of a primitive bygone era.
     
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  3. Crunchy Cat F-in' *meow* baby!!! Valued Senior Member

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    Evil is a label assigned to a persons individual tolarance (dislike) to the presence and absence of various forms and degrees of altruism and exploitation. This tolerance changes throughout a person's life and has a starting place heavily influenced in childhood.
     
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  5. The Devil Inside Banned Banned

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    glenn danzig.
     
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  7. Prince_James Plutarch (Mickey's Dog) Registered Senior Member

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    Would it not be more fruitful to discuss what is good, also? For it would seem one cannot speak of evil without good and good without evil.
     
  8. q0101 Registered Senior Member

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    Evil is ignorance. Evil is illogical behavior. Evil is perception. Evil is a specific combination of chemical reactions in your body.

    I remember an interesting quote from a movie that I watched a couple of years ago. I don’t remember the exact words but it was something like this.

    “If someone asked you what is the opposite of good, you would probably say evil, but your answer would be wrong. Good and evil are one in the same. The opposite of good or evil is indifference.”
     
  9. Ogmios Must. learn. to. punctuate! Registered Senior Member

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    I think that the concepts of good and evil has been completely muddled by (monotheistic) religions. Such religions declare that god is perfect and good, and that everything we say is good, and everything opposed to us is evil. Which WORKS, as long as the priests are right about everything. Hence, as people learn new virtues or change their point of view, they basically see "good" in evil; but since they believe their priest (Who are right, of course), they renounce it. Hence good and evil are seen as two opposing forces. And though such religions influence has diluded, the definition still stands.

    But if good is wisdom and free will and the good guys always win, whereas evil is always said to be a "mistake" or "wrong", this definition does not stand. It's not really a choice, if the other one is simply wrong. Hence I define good as wise action, which benefits me and evil as shortsighted and/or stupid thing to do. "evil" person seekes personal gain, but makes too many enemies, makes too many mistakes or fails to bring his own (or others) potential to bear, and is hence weak. "Good" person lets resources flow outside himself, risking his own gain wisely, so that it pays him back. He helps others and others help him, he helps other to learn and improve, and learns from others. Hence they attain power. Evil always plays safe and keeps everything simple, and ultimately lose it all, and the meek shall inherit the earth.

    Of course, viewing things like this means abandoning many traditionally "Good" sides, and accepting also some attributes considered evil. Good, for example, is considered altruistic, with no thought for selfish gain. I say it makes more sense than the "eternal struggle of good and evil". The polarism is mostly a mess of attributing some virtues as good and some as evil, when there is really no way to categoriaze them into two, opposed forces. Out of the two I choose the best of both and wreck the rest.

    Hegel said that first man creates an idea (thesis), and sooner or later invents an idea (antithesis) which seems to oppose the first idea; and man fights, followers of one against the followers of the other. Ultimately no side wins, after the people realize there is virtue in both, and they form a new idea (synthesis), combining both ideas. And then invent another idea to oppose the new idea. And so forth until everything has been invented, all ideas are perfect and heaven on earth.

    So oppose me so I can learn

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  10. nicholas1M7 Banned Banned

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    I wouldn't say evil is simply an antithesis of all we perceive as good. By objective definition I mean that human perception doesn't encompass it. Perception can define "bad", wicked", "rude", "lack of manners", but for some reason we reserve "evil" for otherwise. Why is that? An objective definition, unlike the related labels, isn't polar. What I guess I'm saying is that it ain't personal.
     
  11. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Evil is the capacity to harm without remorse.
     
  12. Novacane Registered Senior Member

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    If you ever run into an ugly pig-faced guy with a slightly burnt face and some small horns protruding from his forehead holding a pitchfork, smiling and standing under an old worn out sign that says 'Ye Who Enter Here, Abandon All Hope' or something like that, then you can probably say that is one evil looking bast.....d. After that, it's all down hill for you. If you ever have that experience, then you will really know what the word 'Evil' means. Take plenty of sunscreen with you just to be safe.

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  13. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    The answer to that question depends on the era. Since the invention of civilization, I believe that the only acts that are truly evil are those that threaten to destroy civilization. As I have posted elsewhere, the killing by one human being of another (with rare and readily agreed exceptions) is arguably the only act that falls into that category.
     
  14. Ogmios Must. learn. to. punctuate! Registered Senior Member

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    The question was how to define it, so I define it thus. Everyone has their own definitions, so I don't think it can be quantified or qualified before agreeing to a definition.

    As you Nicholas1M7 said, good seems to be good for ALL, whereas evil seems harmful to ALL. It just seems to me that by this definition no one is truely, ever evil, as understood as some sinister, wicked, SELFLESS act of harmful behavior. Why would anyone do "evil" without personal gain? And if it is personal gain one seeks, wouldn't other means suffice?
    I fail to see how violent, abusive or manipulative (etc.) could be the best course of action in the long run. So evil seems to me more shortsightedness than anything other.

    I think an antique definition was good (virtue) vs. evil (sin). I read somewhere that the ancient greek word for "sin" meant "to miss the bullseye" , and from this point of view it makes sense to me; good is perfect action, evil is simply a mistake OR an imperfect action. It's not all clear cut.

    But as i said, religions declared themself perfect, and all that it did not incompass was evil. This is another definition. But according to this definition Evil gains characteristics that might be considered good, at least for oneself, or the society. Hence the concept of "necessary" evil is made.

    As for Rocker, if we assume civilization as good, wouldn't my definition stand? It would merely encompasess certain interpersonal issues, as well. And what of actions, which provoke murder/death/kill in the long run, such as taking someones stuff, or manipulating public opinion against people(s)? When someone gains an unfair advantage through behavior, which causes death in the extreme long run, people have a tendency to react through violence.
     
  15. Novacane Registered Senior Member

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    Evil could be as simple as someone purposely leaving an open bottle of Shad's Stink Bait in front a big department store's central air conditioner's duct on a Sunday day clearance special.

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    Last edited: Aug 9, 2006
  16. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

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    Evil has as most other concepts many angles as to how we can perceive it.

    One angle can be that evil is evil for evils sake (someone that does bad because it is bad).

    Also evil can be perceived as being something bad that is done with intent and calculation.

    Evil is often when you regret something afterwards instead of before. It could have been changed in the thought stage.

    Evil can also be perceived as doing something that you don't believe in (like if you follow someone elses bad example knowing it is bad).

    If evil is done to unmake evil then evil is still done, it isn't allright to kill the killer.

    If you have done bad things, don't forget that there is mercy and forgiveness, and don't forget all the good things that are out there too!
     
  17. Prince_James Plutarch (Mickey's Dog) Registered Senior Member

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    Cyperium:

    I would, in the vein of SOcrates/Plato, proclaim that is impossible to seek evil for evil's sake. For even in the case of a masochist, who seeks pain, it is not the pain that is sought, but rather the pleasure which he gains from it. Similarly, no murderer murders for the sake of murder, but rather of the pleasure of the kill (as some serial killers do) or the achievement of some other value that could only be brought about by deadly force.
     
  18. c7ityi_ Registered Senior Member

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    Evil is good in another form. Good is the only reality.

    One man's good is another man's evil.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2006
  19. Oxygen One Hissy Kitty Registered Senior Member

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    Prince James That corresponds with writing parts for bad guys in books, movies, etc. A good "bad guy" should be written as having a justification for his actions. They don't wake up and think "what evil can I perpetrate today?" The torching of an entire village may be necessary to enforce obedience, and hence peace, among the rebellious subjects. Even Hitler had his reasons. You just have to be careful not to identify too closely with the bad guy. Something about falling into the abyss. (What was that quote?)
     
  20. c7ityi_ Registered Senior Member

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    people are good if they have good reasons to do what they do? and since everyone has good reasons, no one is evil?

    evil is imbalance, separation, consciousness... it exists there...
    no... wrong..
     
  21. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

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    But the pleasure that he gains from such deeds are filled with evil desires!

    It is the motivation that you talk about, sure a man needs motivation for doing evil deeds, a man needs motivations for doing any deeds, the motivation are in some cases self-induced, meaning that the motivation is sought by the person.

    The pleasure of pain, isn't the pleasure of the pain itself, it is the motivation that causes him to seek pain. The motivation he uses could also be calculated so that it masks the true intent, where the method of solving the underlying problem could be something nice, a method is instead used that isn't nice, and it brings pleasure because it is indeed a method of solving a problem and is forcely believed so, so as to mask the intent which indeed could be the same problem that he is trying to "solve".

    If that problem is masked in such a way that it gives rise to said problem with intent, then that could be said to "do evil for evils sake".
     
  22. Prince_James Plutarch (Mickey's Dog) Registered Senior Member

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    Oxygen:

    "Prince James That corresponds with writing parts for bad guys in books, movies, etc. A good "bad guy" should be written as having a justification for his actions. They don't wake up and think "what evil can I perpetrate today?" The torching of an entire village may be necessary to enforce obedience, and hence peace, among the rebellious subjects. Even Hitler had his reasons. You just have to be careful not to identify too closely with the bad guy. Something about falling into the abyss. (What was that quote?) "

    "He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you." - Nietzsche, "Beyond Good and Evil"


    c7ityi_:

    "people are good if they have good reasons to do what they do? and since everyone has good reasons, no one is evil?"

    No, there are evil people. They simply do not seek evil for the sake of evil. This is an impossibility. One cannot seek something for the evil it brings, only for its benefit.

    Cyperium:

    "But the pleasure that he gains from such deeds are filled with evil desires!"

    But benefit is never itself evil. It can be evil in relation to another thing - and thus why it is evil, though not sought for evil - but it is impossible to seek that evil as the good one seeks.

    "It is the motivation that you talk about, sure a man needs motivation for doing evil deeds, a man needs motivations for doing any deeds, the motivation are in some cases self-induced, meaning that the motivation is sought by the person. "

    Motivation surely has its roots in the self's desire, yes.

    "The pleasure of pain, isn't the pleasure of the pain itself, it is the motivation that causes him to seek pain. The motivation he uses could also be calculated so that it masks the true intent, where the method of solving the underlying problem could be something nice, a method is instead used that isn't nice, and it brings pleasure because it is indeed a method of solving a problem and is forcely believed so, so as to mask the intent which indeed could be the same problem that he is trying to "solve".

    If that problem is masked in such a way that it gives rise to said problem with intent, then that could be said to "do evil for evils sake". "

    Yet said evil is not sought even here for it's sake, only so that the benefit that is gained may be achieved. That is to say, the evil is not done so that the evil may be done and nothing may be taken from it, nor might so it might be grieved, so that the value might be always be attained in the act.

    Consider when people are ill. Why is it considered a bad thing? Because it is harmful to the self and frustrates one's aims. People in general thus do not seek illness. People then desire to be well, so they might be freed from such frustrations and pains, and might be happy and relieved, that they might benefit from well-being. Thus we say that wellness is good, whereas sickness is evil (or at the very least, bad).

    It is only ignorance which drives a man to do acts of evil to others, even though he is misunderstands good for himself (at least in a limited sense, as no evil good on the scale of good).
     
  23. nicholas1M7 Banned Banned

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    I'm surprised no one gave an example of something they find to be evil yet. Sure its easy to talk about how evil is merely this and that. But when the day is done you'll still shit your pants if you meet up with real evil. Look at the Moors' couple who brutally murdered some 15 children.

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