• Jack Cummins
    60
    In past eras, people often saw good and evil as metaphysical realities in worldviews, ranging from Christianity to Zoroastrianthism. This was about a conflict between binary realities which impinge on the human condition.

    Freud spoke of a war between Eros and Thanatos, in terms of life and death, but this is related to the underlying binary of good and evil. I am aware that the question of evil, in relation to good, is an aspect of binary divisions of thinking. But, what I am wondering about is how this relates to our own experiences and is there an underlying aspect of evil as a dimension of existence which has a real role in life? Or, is 'evil' a label which we apply to aspects of tlife which are seen as intolerable, as well as to the moral aspects of life. In other words, is evil subjectively constructed, or does it stem from objective aspects of life, beyond our own human thinking and meanings?

    I imagine that this question does involve the question of an objective 'goodness ' too, although I am not wishing to think of it aside from the religious contexts which were often formed thinking about this, and I am wishing to cast it as a philosophical issue. Underlying this, I am asking whether good and evil are metaphysical categories or moral ones, and how these ideas exist and are juxtaposed in our thinking?

  • Jack Cummins
    60

    Okay, I will look at the link which you have provided to a thread previous to my time on the site, and anyone else can throw in any new ideas which they may have.
  • hypericin
    0
    Evil is privileging one's own material/emotional/ideological interests to the point where doing harm to others in order to meet them is a matter of indifference. One is evil to the extent that one behaves in this way, and evil acts are evil to the degree in which they meet this template. It is malignant selfishness.

    Note that sadism is just one variety of evil: the joy the sadist gets from harming is more important to him than the harm he commits. The tempermentally sadistic who refrains from doing harm is not evil.

    This trait certainly exists, but there is no metaphysical dimension of evil which goes beyond it.
  • Shawn
    4
    Evil as much as it can be an expressed sentiment is a disregard for life.
  • Jack Cummins
    60

    I definitely think that aspects of behaviour have a root in the psychology of a person, including sadism. However, I do believe that to think of evil and good simply in this way rules out ideas of the a priori principles of Kant or Plato's ideas of forms. I am not saying that I see it simply as they do, or I would not be writing a thread, but I do think that it is likely that good and evil go beyond our own psychologies.
  • Joshs
    21
    I do think that it is likely that good and evil go beyond our own psychologies.Jack Cummins

    It sounds like you’re pointing to a theological dimension.
  • Jack Cummins
    60

    Interesting, and I am inclined to think that a disregard for life may incorporate the lives of others alongside our own, but I do think that this split is an important one.
  • Jack Cummins
    60

    I think that my problem goes back to theology but I am trying to think outside of that. My own views are related to Jung's psychology of the shadow but also I question in the widest possible way, in relation to the suffering of human beings and other lifeforms.

    However, I am in Wimbledon and my phone battery may run out any moment, so I may not be able to discuss any further until I can charge my battery.
  • Jaymythos
    1
    In order to have a dimension of evil, we first have to create a framework that gives image to it. This framework is a value system. Without reasoning capability (cognition) we have no home for metaphysical concepts like evil. For example, I love A, if A were to be negated by some other, I now consider this other as approaching evil to the degree at which they have negated my value A.
  • Amity
    9
    However, I am in Wimbledon and my phone battery may run out any moment, so I may not be able to discuss any further until I can charge my battery, a relative 'evil' amidst many greater aspects of evil.Jack Cummins

    You keep telling us about mundane stuff like this and why you can't discuss further.
    Nobody needs to know this. Seriously.
    As for using it as an example of a relative 'evil', how f7cking ridiculous, even if it is meant to showcase your sense of humour. So very superficial...
  • hypericin
    0

    Why make room for constructs which don't exist. Evil isn't "just psychology", it is a pattern which pervades the human condition. It is eternal, but only to the extent that humanity is eternal. Outside the human context it is nothing.
  • Amity
    9

    Is that a good or an evil emoticon ?
  • Joshs
    21
    Just you just say that Jack used low battery as a relative
    example of evil?
  • 180 Proof
    41
    I don't know what that one is supposed to mean exactly, and that's why I like it. I only use :smirk: when I agree with a post which says what needs to be said.
  • Amity
    9
    Just you just say that Jack used low battery as a relative
    example of evil?
    Joshs

    What do you think Jack meant by this:

    However, I am in Wimbledon and my phone battery may run out any moment, so I may not be able to discuss any further until I can charge my battery, a relative 'evil' amidst many greater aspects of evil.Jack Cummins

    So, what is 'evil' (even if said in jest) ?
    The fact that batteries run out. Or the consequences of that happening ?
    Not being able to discuss further ? :chin:
    Bad, bad battery :naughty:
    Or from another perspective: Yay, way to go battery ! :halo:
  • Joshs
    21
    My definition of evil won’t be a popular one, but here goes. First of all, even though it may seem that the concept of evil isn’t necessarily associated with any particular affectivity, it is inextricably bound with the emotions of hostility, anger and guilt. We see others as evil when they violate our expectations or standards within the social realm. Feithemore, we believe that the perpetrator is ‘guilty’. That doesn’t mean they feel guilty, it means we believe they should feel guilty. That is, we believe
    the other knew bette than to do what they did to hurt us or other members of society. We believe
    they knew their actions would cause others pain but disregarded this and went ahead callously, thoughtlessly, maliciously , malevolently. Notice that these terms don’t explain anything, they just point to a strange arbitrariness and capriciousness in intent, what is typically referred to as freedom of will. The connection between evil and emotions of guilt, anger and hostility is that they all are based in the same structure of thinking. To put it simply, they are all concepts of blame. When we blame someone or ourselves , we believe there was an arbitrary succumbing to temptation , a being led astray from
    doing the ‘right’ thing.

    Here is where I’m going to be very unpopular. I believe that the thinking of blame and evil always represent our failure to understand the other’s motives
    from thei pint of view, and never represent an accurate depiction of the other’s thinking. Blame and evil aren’t explanations , they are nothing but question marks nWby on earth did the other want to do something so terrible? Why didn’t they feel strong enough guilt at the prospect of performing those actions so as to prevent them from going through with it? I know that I have been tempted by such things but I was able to resist. This question mark of blame flies by many different labels and accusations. For inatancw, when we call the other lazy, inconsiderate , selfish, recalcitrant , immoral, criminal.

    In sum, we blame the other for our failure to understand them. Perhaps this failure on our part is the true basis of ‘evil’ and all of the violence that emanates from it
  • Joshs
    21
    I didnt see that. He edited that last part out .
  • Amity
    9
    I didnt see that. He edited that last part out .Joshs

    Devil that he is :wink:
  • Kenosha Kid
    18
    On the other hand, we're sure grateful you aired your irrelevant feelings. Speaking of irony... How'd you choose your handle?
  • Amity
    9
    On the other hand, we're sure grateful you aired your irrelevant feelings. Speaking of irony... How'd you choose your handle?Kenosha Kid

    Who is this 'we' you talk of ? Are you royalty ?
    Ah, the handle issue again...how tediously predictable.
    Nobody ever asks about my middle and last names... :sad:
  • Joshs
    21
    Nobody ever asks about my middle and last names... :sad:Amity

    Ville Horror?
  • Kenosha Kid
    18
    Dichotomies do this to us. We can imagine a good person, who aims to help the most helpless, aims to never harm another, isn't greedy or selfish, keeps enough to get by but puts back in. Then we can imagine the opposite, someone who takes but never gives, someone who enjoys harming others for the sake of it, greedy, selfish person. A good person and an evil person, pretty uncontroversially I expect. Jose Mujica and Hitler maybe.

    Most (all) of us lie in between. We might occasionally pat ourselves on the back for a crappy 3 mile charity run or dumping coins in a beggar's cup, but might also lash out in pain, verbally or physically. We probably hoard more than we need but don't mind being taxed in general because roads are good. We're MMM: mostly morally meh.

    So short answer: evil is an extreme that isn't particularly useful until someone special approaches it.

    Ah that makes sense.
  • Enrique
    1


    The root of evil is fundamentally a forced reaction to something repugnant like mutilation or debauchery. Evil makes us conflicted as we must choose between sustaining or relinquishing our humaneness or the humaneness of those around us. An experience veers into the territory of evil when it requires us to be callous in order to cope.

    It is interesting how evil differs by context, especially when depicted artistically vs. being involved or a direct witness vs. the evil moment being absolutely unavoidable as in war. War almost seems like an authoritarian pretext for getting people to accept evil, arising from ulterior, perhaps manipulative motives.
  • 180 Proof
    41
    Metaphysical?

    Psychological?

    Moral?

    'Evil' is clearly real as a limit-condition, like war as Levinas says, that reduces persons to unthinking (banal) automatons / beasts ... and the definitions, however they're considered, never seem adequate to me.

    • In a religious context, of discourse, evil denotes disobeying (i.e. to willfully sin – rebel – against) "god".

    • In a nonreligious / secular context, or discourse, evil amounts to ... indifference to, or inflicting, gratuitous harm that culminates in destroying moral agency.

    The second definition, I think, covers both 'divine retribution via damnation' (eternal punishment for temporal transgressions) and 'divine indifference' (theodicy) from the first definition as well as, alluding to the second, 'scapegoating & sadistic usage' of mortals (any animals) by mortals (human animals). As a nonbeliever, I only relate to the second definition; the first, however, is a Lovecraftian nightmare which I've never understood how believers can accept, or submit themselves to, such a metaphysically horrible prospect – the Gnostics were/are cogent in this regard.
  • Jaymythos
    1
    In a nonreligious / secular context, or discourse, evil amounts to ... indifference to, or infliction of, gratuitous harm that culminates in destroying moral agency.180 Proof

    Is it necessary for this harm to be done in a gratuitous fashion? One could also consider the relativity of a value system to another. That is to say, that this act of harm could be done with good reason relative to the perpetrator's value system.
  • 180 Proof
    41
    By gratuitous I mean 'easily preventable harm, yet allowed to happen to the victim due to callous disregard or enjoyment'. "Relative to the perpetrator's value system"? You mean like "just following orders"? Think. Doing evil – producing corpses or dehumanized automatons / beasts – is not all that subjective; the more unthinking, the easier it is to excuse and to do it.
  • Manuel
    7


    I think it makes more sense to think about evil acts or evil actions more than it is to think of as a person as being evil. Not that we cannot think of obvious examples of people who can be considered evil.

    But I think that thinking in this manner may help free us somewhat of the "metaphysical" dimension of good and evil, once we recognize that all of us have the capacity to do anything.

    Acts can often be grey, in that there may some evil intent, but that may not be the main motivating factor for saying or doing such a thing. One example that comes to mind is humor, such as making fun of a person who did something stupid or whom we dislike. If we make fun of them, there may be a tinge of malice in our statements, but it's not at all the main component of our act.

    And so with evil, the same with good. And in this manner, both exist and are human constructions, which takes nothing away from reality.
  • Amity
    9
    Ah that makes sense.Kenosha Kid



    Quite so.
    A mix of sweet'n'sour. Sometimes, being an :halo: can be so damned :yawn:
    Anyway, what did I say that was so very :naughty:

    We might occasionally pat ourselves on the back for a crappy 3 mile charity run or dumping coins in a beggar's cup, but might also lash out in pain, verbally or physically.Kenosha Kid

    So, it all depends on context, circumstance, perspective...
    It's all too human. I don't think of 'evil' as an entity, only as a behaviour.
    I know that others see it in absolutes.
    So be it.
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