What is your definition of evil?

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by akoreamerican, Aug 26, 2018.

  1. akoreamerican Registered Senior Member

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    I believe it's evil if some act was done with an intent to cause pain to another, whether it is physical or emotional it does not matter.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2018
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  3. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

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    Would that then, by definition, make this world evil, since it's the nature of one living entity to subsist on another (which inevitably causes pain)?

    As such, if the world is inescapably evil (in as much as it is impossible to avoid causing pain to others), who owns the evil?
    The perpetrator?
    Or "the world"?
    Or something else?
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2018
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  5. akoreamerican Registered Senior Member

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    I'm not saying that causing pain is inherently evil. Someone may have accidently stepped on your foot. That would cause pain and yes it's wrong, but was it evil?
     
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  7. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    Okay, but then you need a scale of evil, commensurate with the amount of pain caused and modified by the agent's motivation.

    I completely, agree, by the way that intention is key. The hurts caused by circumstance, accident, necessity or mental illness are a comment on the nature of the world - yes, if it were intelligently designed, the world would be inherently evil - not on the individual agent. He's only responsible to the extent that he's capable of choice.
     
  8. river

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    Psychopaths , sociopath .

    Neither have any form of empathy
     
  9. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    I think "evil" is a religious concept. It's just semantics however as you can come up with a situation that some may call "evil" and other would call "bad", "depraved", etc.
     
  10. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

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    The closest i can come to what evel is... is a creator who had the free will not to do so… but chose to create life as we know it.!!!
     
  11. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    That is not equivalent to the OP's claim.
    The key difference being in the word "intent".
     
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  12. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    I once watched a video where a gazelle was being eaten alive by lions, which makes me wondered about the nature of things. Your equation of Evil involves both intent and pain, which is the worse aspect of "Evil," the intent or the pain?
     
  13. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

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    To subsist, we must eat. To eat, we must cause suffering and pain to another living entity. Something may be "necessary" or "unavoidable" but that doesn't make it any less "intentional". Even the "lesser of all evils" is still evil, hence the query about the inherent nature of this world, the inhabitants, and the actions they partake of.
     
  14. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    There are no comparable aspects. Evil is the whole package: conception, volition, act, event and consequences.
    The evil that men do not only lives after them, it also lives in them, affecting their every contact with the world.
    The evil that is done to men also lives on in them and affects their every subsequent contact with the world.

    As for "Nature, red in tooth and claw", it is the source of consciousness as well as suffering.
    Nature itself is unconscious, (except to those who subscribe to and intelligent designer, who is then the original and ultimate evil)
    but intelligence is capable of understanding the proximate causes of pain, and thus, not only avoid inflicting it, but also devise methods of alleviating it. Those who take more pain out of the world than they put into it are considered "good".
     
  15. akoreamerican Registered Senior Member

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    When we kill an animal and eat it, is our motive to cause pain? No, our motive is to gain sustenance to live.
     
  16. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    ... and to metabolize, we must poop. Which means we all intend to poop.
    ... and to poop, we must pollute. Which means we all intend to choke our planet to death.
    ... and to kill our planet ...
    It's a dumb reducto ad absurdum. One cannot be evil for doing the things one needs to do to survive. It is every thing's imperative to try to live.


    BTW, your statement is also not true. The majority of species on the planet (the large base of the food chain) don't eat things that feel pain.

    Animals do not intend to cause their prey pain. And that is the statement in the OP.

    Evil is a human invention. Animals are neither good nor evil.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2018
  17. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

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    That necessity brings an equation that involves giving pain. The whole world maintains itself on the principle of violence (down to the level of plants). Of course, as far as human civilization goes, one can talk about minimizing that (actually in the modern age, all you can do is talk about it ... pretty hard to write off arriving at the cusp of the anthropocene age whilst simultaneously glorifing the collective benevolence of human society), but even the "lesser of evils" is still evil.
    IOW if causing pain to others is evil, and if such things are unavoidable details within the contract of our existence in this world, to whom does the evil belong to?
     
  18. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

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    So what are your thoughts on the notion of "necessary evils" or the "lesser of evils"?
    (As for poop, it sustains one sort of life while inhibiting another ... so its yet another case of this ethical double bind ingrained into the existence of this world)

    In a certain light, you can even relegate pain to a mere stimulli response, so one can dissolve the whole problem within a cloud of semantics. At the very least, ideas on "what experiences pain" has enjoyed quite a few fluid definitions over the past two centuries.

    Hence we don't ascribe to them evil behaviour, or employ systems of justice to bring them to a higher standard to understand what they should try to avoid.

    Then that leaves one to ponder whether or not humans, and their notions of evil, exist as anomolies within the world.
     
  19. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    We have a concept of Evil. Who's to say it isn't part of the universal process/harmony? I'm not drawing a distinction between right and wrong, only making an observation that "Evil" has always been with us. People have been trying to get an upper hand over it for thousands of years.
     
  20. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    By 'we' I presume you mean humans. Other animals have concepts of right and wrong, desirable and to be avoided, but not of moral good and bad.
    We are to say what it is and isn't. It's our idea, after all. We get to define it, judge it and decide what to do about it.
    To use the word 'evil' with any understanding at all, you must have already drawn a very clear distinction between right and wrong. Otherwise, the word has no meaning.
    It's only been with us since we invented/identified/articulated it. That's probably around the same time we invented a language of standardized words.
    I wonder what "upper hand" means. In this context, I suppose, very many things to different people. If we all had the same understanding and the same motivation, we would have vanquished evil a long time ago.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2018
  21. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    I thought the summation of right and wrong is morality. Animals can be trained.

    But we don't always agree. Wars between nations have been fought on the premise of right and wrong, at the cost of thousands of lives, I might add.

    As you said above, it's an idea, a concept. A guy in town was clubbed over the head for holding an American flag. Clearly a clash between two concepts of right and wrong.

    It would seem to have many definitions.

    Thank you, Sir.

    And perhaps we will all be Christians some day, or Muslims, or whatever

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  22. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

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    You will never be able to impress that on someone who has a core conviction/belief that the universe has no teleological function.
     
  23. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    My guess is that you also tend to regard many things done with indifference to the pain of others as evil deeds.
    Also: things done from cowardice or greed despite awareness of the pain they cause - some of these would be evil as well, no?
    That would include all those who know what the words "universe" and "teleology" mean.
     

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