• 180 Proof
    41
    So, in fact, "evil" can reach a point that an oppressive regime cannot be said to be "counterbalanced by good policy elsewhere". Your example of the FDR admininstration is that on-balance the worst one could say about the regime during WW2 is that it was 'very bad but not evil'. Sounds like "evil" is a case-by-case, "in the eye of the beholder," "I know it when I see it" prospect for you, BC, and not an applicable principle with explicit criteria?
  • Saphsin
    5
    FDR supported Mussolini and worked with racist-Southern Democrats to block anti-lynching laws. Can you imagine yourself doing that? I mean if I were to look at myself from another timeline doing such, I would call myself evil.

    It's also true that FDR did a lot of good things. It's a weird reality, but I guess there are human beings that are just like that, they can exhibit cruelty but also show sympathy to suffering in other instances. I don't think that erases the fact that they were cruel. One should exhibit self-doubt of their moral blinders in the face of that fact.

    I guess if I were forced to answer, I would say FDR is less evil than Stalin, but I also don't find it a productive question.
  • BitconnectCarlos
    2
    So, in fact, "evil" can reach a point that an oppressive regime cannot be said to be "counterbalanced by good policy elsewhere".180 Proof


    of course.

    Your example of the FDR admininstration is that on-balance the worst one could say about the regime during WW2 is that it was 'very bad but not evil'.180 Proof

    no, i would never describe the fdr regime during ww2 as "very bad, but not evil" because it's a terrible description. as long as you're not a nazi or pro-axis the fdr regime is a good during WWII. one can say that specific policies implemented by fdr were bad/oppressive, but the bigger picture is clear.

    I guess if I were forced to answer, I would say FDR is less evil than Stalin, but I also don't find it a productive question.Saphsin

    the two aren't remotely in the same ballpark.
  • Saphsin
    5
    the two aren't remotely in the same ballpark.

    It wasn't really my point that they were. I just don't think regimes that do really bad things can be just labeled "good" (FDR goes well beyond the inevitably of doing some bad things as head of state because of lack of political capital)

    Imagine someone who dedicated their life to humanitarian causes and saved people's lives, but he beat up his wife and kids. I wouldn't call him a good person. That's all there is to it. I don't have to weigh him in comparison to a serial killer to make those judgments.

    Now since the bar for my evaluation of U.S. Presidents is pretty low because we had so many terrible Presidents, I would say FDR is one of the best Presidents we had. In a relative sense. It’s the way the state-corporate nexus is structured so that mostly terrible people end up reaching the top.
  • 180 Proof
    41
    So you agree with my interpretation of your subjective assessment, to wit:
    Sounds like "evil" is a case-by-case, "in the eye of the beholder," "I know it when I see it" prospect for you, BC, and not an applicable principle with explicit criteria?180 Proof
  • Corvus
    7
    I still do find that Freud's idea of life and death, as Eros and Thanatos useful in understanding of opposition or inherent conflict.Jack Cummins

    From Life and Death point of view, if Death is viewed as Evil, then it is negativity in extreme. But then one's own death does not exist while living. It is just a concept.
  • 180 Proof
    41
    Yeah, it's 'fear of death' (i.e. self-consciousness), not death itself, that's "evil" because it's unwarranted (gratuitous).
  • Possibility
    14
    Tell me what distinctions you might make, if any , between evil and blame in general.
    I include within the boundaries of blame the following: all feelings and expressions of blame aimed at another (or oneself in self-anger). These include: irritation, annoyance, disapproval, condemnation, feeling insulted, taking umbrage, resentment, exasperation, impatience, hatred, ire, outrage, contempt, righteous indignation, ‘adaptive' anger, perceiving the other as deliberately thoughtless, lazy, culpable, perverse, inconsiderate, disrespectful, disgraceful, greedy, evil, sinful, criminal.
    Joshs

    The way I see it, ‘evil’ is an arbitrarily set limit, at and beyond which any possibility of intentional relation is denied. I hadn’t really considered the term ‘blame’ as the relational quality here - I agree that it describes a moral self-justification to ignore, isolate or exclude relations by attributing unpleasant affect externally as malicious intent.

    My argument is that the concept of evil. particularly in its theological guises, is a more foundationalisr version of blame ,but all of the varieties I mentioned above share central structure features with evil. I’m aware of only one writer who seems to support my view of blame as a failure of understanding. Every other philosophy I know of is essentially a philosophy of blame i. that it relies on a notion of capricious and arbitrariness at the core of human intent. This takes a wide variety of forms, ranging from concepts of social influence on the individual ( Marx, Foucault, etc) to internal sources of bias and influence such as drives and emotions.Joshs

    I have also struggled to find others who see this failure of understanding as a key to human morality. Which writer are you referring to who supports this view?

    My initial thought is that it’s a focus on individualism and/or essentialism that seems to support these philosophies of blame. The ambiguity in language regarding the identity of a disembodied perspective (‘view from nowhere’) conceals a highly variable, qualitative aspect of ‘self/not-self’ which seems to effortlessly shift perspective between interacting systems at the level of intentionality. Does that make any sense?
  • Corvus
    7
    Yeah, it's 'fear of death' (i.e. self-consciousness), not death itself, that's "evil" because it's unwarranted (gratuitous).180 Proof

    :fire: :up:
  • Alkis Piskas
    1

    You find me in total agreement with what you say @Jack Cummins. (This is something very rare for me to say to someone in these remote exchanges!)

    I interact very often and have quite valuable exchanges with very interesting people in Quora, which I joined about 3 years ago. It is also a "human" place. Of course, it's an "all-subject" forum and cannot compare at all to this forum quality-wise, but still philosophy has a big share among all the various subjects.

    Like you, I also enjoy a lot writing! In fact, exteriorizing my thoughts by writing them down and esp. sharing them with others and interacting with others on them, has expanded my awareness and strengthened my reality and my reasoning ability (critical thinking) to a very marked degree!

    Thank you for your wishes! I have already started to like this place and feel quite positive about it for the future! :)
  • Joshs
    21
    My initial thought is that it’s a focus on individualism and/or essentialism that seems to support these philosophies of blame. The ambiguity in language regarding the identity of a disembodied perspective (‘view from nowhere’) conceals a highly variable, qualitative aspect of ‘self/not-self’ which seems to effortlessly shift perspective between interacting systems at the level of intentionality. Does that make any sense?
    11h
    Possibility

    For me the key to the concept of blame is a belief in the
    arbitrariness , capriciousness and fickleness of the qualitative variations in shifts of perspective.

    The one writer I’ve found who seems to share my view of blame is George Kelly.

    Here’s my summary of Kelly’s position on blame:

    https://philpapers.org/rec/MRGKO
  • Possibility
    14
    The one writer I’ve found who seems to share my view of blame is George Kelly.

    Here’s my summary of Kelly’s position on blame:
    Joshs

    Thanks for the link! Kelly’s personal construct theory aligns well with my current philosophy, and your article on hostility is really interesting - particularly with respect to understanding (and ‘preventing’) domestic abuse.

    For me the key to the concept of blame is a belief in the
    arbitrariness , capriciousness and fickleness of the qualitative variations in shifts of perspective.
    Joshs

    This makes sense to me from a psychology perspective. It seems to me there’s an expectation of suffering - momentary experiences of humility, pain and lack or loss from prediction error - that goes with this awareness of indeterminacy. It can be disorienting in a broader sense, though - a kind of existential free-fall, especially in relation to the qualitative variability of quantum physics. As a philosopher (and this may be off-topic, sorry) I’m curious as to the influence this arbitrariness may have on how you would frame reality in any ‘objective’ sense.
  • Jack Cummins
    60

    I have just read your article which you linked in, and thanks for sharing this. It is very useful in thinking about blame. In addition, Kelly's ideas of personal constructs is an interesting perspective of the psychology of how we think about good and evil in general.
  • BitconnectCarlos
    2
    I just don't think regimes that do really bad things can be just labeled "good" (FDR goes well beyond the inevitably of doing some bad things as head of state because of lack of political capital)Saphsin

    I understand, and my intention going to this topic was never to specifically advocate for FDR or to defend him against all criticism. In any case, I don't disagree with anything you've said here philosophically but maybe our discussion could go in a more historical direction going back to an earlier claim:

    FDR supported Mussolini and worked with racist-Southern Democrats to block anti-lynching laws.Saphsin

    FDR admired Italy's social programs and he may have admired Mussolini personally (any material you bring in here is welcome, I'm unsure as to FDR's exact attitude towards Mussolini), but this was between '33-'36 at which point Italy invaded Abyssinia and relations soured. I don't see anything wrong with FDR engaging with Italy in this period, and had FDR somehow been successful in swaying Italy over the Allies that would have saved us a lot of trouble.

    On the anti-lynching bill, FDR personally regarded lynching as murder but according to his own words he needed the political support of southern democrats and pushing through the anti-lynching bill would have sabotaged his political capital with that group. If FDR is accurately representing the scenario that I can envision scenarios where he decision here is justified.



    Sounds like "evil" is a case-by-case, "in the eye of the beholder," "I know it when I see it" prospect for you, BC, and not an applicable principle with explicit criteria?180 Proof

    I'll engage with what you said earlier:

    • 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.
    180 Proof

    I mostly agree with your religious definition. We could dive a little further into different types of evil and it's nature but by and large what you're saying here is reasonable.

    In a non-religious context we should probably just stop using the word "evil" since it's a confusing, religiously-grounded word and instead use descriptors like "bad" or "very bad." Regardless, I don't see any reason to prefer your definition over any number of other definitions assuming both are coherent.
  • 180 Proof
    41
    Okay. I prefer the precision of it.
  • Jack Cummins
    60

    I see your point about giving up using the word 'evil', but if anything I think that it is a word we should use with caution. From this thread discussion, it has become clear to me that evil is hard to define because it is abstract, nevertheless it does appear that there are extreme aspects of existence and moral behaviour which point to the end aspects of the spectrum in between the polar opposition between good and evil.
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