• Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    I definitely agree that there is 'no one answer' to the problem of evil. To 'preserve one's existence' seems to me to be an instinctual aspect of life and in the construction of morality, the idea of what must be preserved is essential. The idea of destruction, especially for human beings is where it gets more complex. It comes down to what is regarded as 'evil'. That is why I think that consideration of evil is important.

    In war, evil is seen as the war against the 'enemy'. We have been through a war against terrorism. Perhaps, this was almost replaced globally as the war against Covid_19. But, the question may be can we really eliminate evil? Of course, I am not saying that we don't need to strive to overcome specific evils, but it is not simple. The war against Covid_19 shows this symbolically, as new mutant strains arise. Evil keeps arising in new guises in all aspects of life, and I think that it is more about holding it back. Christian thinking often pointed to a cosmic battle of good and evil, and this may have lead to an emphasis on fighting evil. But, here we are in 2021, with Covid_19 still in our midst, conflicts between many nations, nuclear threats and climate changes suggesting severe ecological problems.
  • Alkis Piskas
    1.4k


    First of all, thank you for considering my post as something "impressive". For me, what I exposed is like the air we breathe, that essential, for many years now.

    I think that you are really describing a utilitarian approach to ethics, but more from the standpoint of the view that the individual subjects should be thinking of their own lives in terms of the greater good.Jack Cummins
    Right, it can be said that this is an utilitarian view. And it is the only view I can see "good" and "evil" (ethics) from.

    I think that it may be easier to apply to the principle of evil than good in the sense of people wishing to avoid doing evil. I believe that is because most people fear evil to a large extentJack Cummins
    As I have mentioned in parentheses. "evil" may be used also with some other meaning. One of them is e.g. "Evil" as some dark idea --even more than that: an entity-- that most people fear, and which has been manufactured and promoted by various religions, esp. dogmatic ones, who wanted to control people by creating fear in them. Devil, demons, hell and all these crazy and horrible stuff are the products of that and are haunting people since ever! Their purpose was to make people obey some other --also inexistent-- entity (God, angels, paradise), opposite to "Evil" and protecting them from Evil, of which they appear as representatives! No. I have no interest in considering "evil" from that viewpoint. It's a bogeyman for adults! This kind of "evil" and all its paraphernalia can only exist --actually, planted-- in our minds. And they indicate mental illness. (BTW, all kinds of "evils" indicate some kind of mental illness.)

    So, since as can I see my post was not exactly what you expected as a response to your thread, and since you find it interesting, maybe you can keep it for some other thread of yours on "good and evil", utilitarian this time! :)
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    You could start your own thread on utilitarian ethics because there if you simply have your view on this thread or another there is a possibility that people who might be interested in it will not see it. There is a thread on the greater good on the front page which is new, but I am not sure that is exactly what you are looking for. There have been threads contrasting deontological and utilitarianism approaches to ethics, but not recently as far as I am aware.

    My own view is that consequences of behaviour iin the real world are of supreme importance, and I think that is an argument against deontological approaches to good and evil. But, I do believe that there are some problems with utilitarianism. Partly, determining the greatest good is not simple because it involves so many factors. Also, it is not always possible to determine consequences of all actions. Therefore, I think that it is important to think about effects of action, but also to think about the meanings of those actions from specific subjective viewpoints, including competing subjectivities.
  • Philosophim
    1.3k


    I don't think we can ever remove evil entirely, just diminish its degree. If good is "more existence" and evil is "less existence", then good and evil are comparisons. While Covid is terrible, it doesn't approach the millions of deaths from pandemics in the past. Our work into medical science has paid off. While nuclear weapons are excessively destructive, that excessiveness also has diminished the number of wars in the world, and preserved more human life.

    Finally, while the climate is definitely on a course to either hellish heat, or a lethal change in oxygen levels in the air, much of our technology is more energy efficient, and we are focusing on greener alternatives. Fighting with evil is a constant war for the betterment of the world.
  • TheArchitectOfTheGods
    62
    Hi Jack, I think it is very easy to define Evil. Evil is the intentional violation of the Golden Rule Matthew (7:12): β€œIn everything, do to others what you would have them do to you. . . .”
    Ideologies like Nazi Fascism, Islamic State etc. purposefully do to others what they would not have done unto themselves, they are therefore easily identifiable as evil. They invoke a dog eat dog survival of the fittest rationale to apply to human races / religions.
    Thieves, rapists, murderers, do the same, they purposefully break the Golden Rule, and their acts are therefore considered evil.
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    I am not wishing to argue against the importance of the golden rule, but you have to realise that in philosophy it is about competing views. But, of course, you offer a valid viewpoint. I am sure that the world would be a better place if everyone followed the golden rule.

    I don't know why you have dug up a much older thread on defining reality and written the same post onto it. Since I started my thread someone else started a thread on what is evil. We now have 3 'evil' threads, warring against each other on the front page, and I am still fighting for mine because I believe that some people have put some really 'good' comments in this particular thread.
  • Outlander
    1.5k
    Anything that disrupts my daily routine and/or intentions or desires for said day.
  • mindgame
    4
    Yo I stumbled on this site and Iike this question a lot. Off bat this would be my view... I think "Evil" is a moral term and meta physical depending on where you look, but at heart its a way to deal with I'll call it "the human sin" problem. You could say "conscious sin" at that. I'm thinking Evil was meant to be matched with justifying a form of violence like revenge or as we call it "justice". That opens a lot of questions but for sake of time I'll keep it on point. So in my head "evil" as moral concept is a psychological strategy to help societal social structure. From childrens books to adult films of any type evil as a concept is there and when its not , suspense greets us as the threat of evil lingers. Many times i think it doesn't live up to it's name for the better.
    There is no way in life to rid evil, even if a government did its best it would fall victim to its own judgement and morality thus becoming the exact thing it is fighting against. Ultimately, if societal structure doesn't teach evil, it must go hand in hand with " free thought" which would lead people to "evil thinking" I would imagine that's the point if no return. Our natural born rights would I guess make evil more relevant but that's it.. We are free (at least here in America) hoorah I'll stay prepared for the worst and hope for the best before losing freedom any day.
    PS': IT IS A LITTLE CRAZY BUT" EVIL" BACKWARDS SPELLS LIVE. FOR WHATEVER IT'S WORTH I JUST MADE THAT DISTINCTION. CHEERS MAN !
  • Corvus
    1k
    I think Evil has the feel of that man made, man based and man created badness.
    Devil more sounds like esoteric, and religious nature in its origin.

    It is negative energy, acts and entity of all sorts, that must be overcome and quelled by any possible means.
  • BitconnectCarlos
    1.5k
    But, the question may be can we really eliminate evil?Jack Cummins

    No because evil is part of the human condition so the only real way to destroy evil would be to destroy humanity. The best we can do is contain and try to tame our demons; a problem arises when people consider themselves to be victims and consider their cause so just and noble that any means used to achieve it are justified via the utopian end. Certain people consider themselves outside the scope of traditional morality because they consider themselves so incredibly noble and intelligent that they can see the "big picture" and correctly do the utilitarian math so those regular, old boring rules don't apply to them.
  • TheArchitectOfTheGods
    62

    Hi Jack
    I posted on the other thread, because it was referenced in the first post of your thread, and also asked outright for a definition of evil, so I thought my observation is also relevant there. I can see however that it is gone from the start page now, so I hope it is fine to continue here.

    The first thing I think I would like to add is that there seems to be a wide consensus that in the animal world, there is no good or evil. They don't exist because there is no standard to measure against. This standard only exists in human societies. Again, Fascism and Racism want to go back to the animal world where no good or evil exist, and only the right of the stronger defines the right to live. So Nietzsche challenged the very standard of the Golden Rule. Here we have a direct connection from Nietzsche to Hitler.

    We are looking for a clean definition of what is Evil.
    In this light, the Golden Rule is very relevant, since it exists in similar form in many if not all worlds cultures. It is furthermore very valid because in order not to have it, you would need to posit that different people have different rights to life and the pursuit of happiness. This runs counter to the base ethical assumptions we make in human societies, namely that all men should enjoy equal rights in this regard. Therefore I believe that purposeful violation of the rule provides the easiest and cleanest definition of evil. We intuitively know what is evil when we encounter it, yet it seems so hard to define.

    Purposeful breakers of the Golden Rule
    Nietzsche, Hitler, Charles Manson, Stalin, ISIS terrorists, anyone who thinks they have justification to deny other humans the same right to life and happiness
  • 180 Proof
    10.2k
    Yeah, like regimes that practice oppression, apartheid and ethnic cleansing as matters of policy. Such regimes qualify as manifestly "evil", you'd agree?
  • BitconnectCarlos
    1.5k


    Every regime practices oppression. Every one of them. Apartheid is evil, but Israel is not apartheid. And if you want to condemn ethnic cleansing we can start with the Assyrians ethnically cleansing the Hebrews in 3000 BCE. The Jews have been the victims of ethnic cleansing countless times over their history, some only a generation back. It's really the Europeans who created this "whose land is whose" with their insistence on firm borders.

    But lets not side track.
  • 180 Proof
    10.2k
    Every regime practices oppression.BitconnectCarlos
    Typical whataboutery of "everybody does it". Funny thing too, I said "regimes" in general and not "Israel" in particular. Why so defensive? Their oppressive policies are not "evil", y'know, like "everybody elses", are they? :smirk:

    But lets not side track.
    Right. We're trying to describe "evil" here, not discussing Israel.
  • Alkis Piskas
    1.4k

    Thank you, @Jack Cummins. I will consider your suggestion about starting a new thread on utilitarian etchis (or other subject). For the moment though, I am getting acquainted with "The Philosophy Forum" and its various topics and members. And I am really glad that I met this Forum, because it is "human". One feels welcome and can get immediately involved, meet people, carrying discussions, etc. Three other forums I "tried" this month, were totally unacceptable! They either have a weird/bad administration system, or one feels a stranger if not ignored (unanswered questions and replies!), and so on. It was also a pleasure to meet you and have these exchanges with you!
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    I clearer now in understanding why you brought up a previous thread. In comparing human beings with animals, it is definitely true that the big difference is that we have metaphysical and moral notions about good and evil. They live on the basis of instincts whereas we have language and the use of reason to guide us, so ideas of good and evil arise in that sense.

    In your discussion of the golden rule, you bring in Nietzsche and his ideas are relevant. The reason why I have not discussed these is because there was a thread going on his criticism of moral views on compassion during the last couple of weeks. I think that it has only gone off the front page in the last couple of days, and you may be interested in looking at that thread.

    Thinking about Nietzsche's ideas in the context of this specific thread though, Nietzsche's critique of Christian ideas does address the golden rule directly. In 'Beyond Good and Evil,' he states,
    'the sentiment of surrender, of sacrifice for one's neighbour, and all self-renunciation morality must be called to account and brought to judgement.' He is opposed to asceticism but he is directly against social ethical concerns, favouring the 'will to power'. As far as I understand, he was not in favour of Nazism, but it is possible to see how his ideas could be used to justify such ideologies. I think it is questionable whether human beings can really go 'beyond good and evil' and to ask what that would truly mean? I often read Nietzsche's ideas as poetic truths, and in the context of pointing to some basic problems in culture arising from some aspects of Christianity, but I think how far one interprets Nietzsche is of critical importance. I certainly believe that if stretched too far, or too literally, his ideas could be used to make anything permissible, including oppressive ideologies and actual oppression in the world.
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    I am glad that you are feeling better about this forum than others you have joined. It is my first one but I feel that I have learned a lot since I joined last September. I think that this one is very 'human' in the sense that the various people have unique writing voices. There is a lot of interaction night and day. I enjoy writing threads and I do my best to reply to as many as I possibly can, but I try not to rush them because it can affect the quality of the replies. Besides, it is often best if people within the thread exchange ideas too. Anyway, I wish you the best in your interaction on the forum and in this thread discussion.
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    I tend to think of evil as negative energies, or tendencies destructiveness. Aside from any religious worldviews, I still do find that Freud's idea of life and death, as Eros and Thanatos useful in understanding of opposition or inherent conflict. Of course, Freud was probably drawing upon the binary logic of traditional or religious worldviews. But, whether we think from within Christianity, Taoism or other perspectives, I am not sure that we can get away from the extremes, especially the reality of evil as an aspect of existence, as suffering, and in connections with the actions of people who created. As far as I can see, evil is an extreme aspect of real life which is evident, so cannot be ignored.
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    Welcome to the thread. I don't live in America, but in England. I do believe that it is often a case of being prepared for the worst in many aspects of life. I often think about what is the worst thing that can happen? But, life is unpredictable. A couple of years ago I am sure no one expected a global pandemic and all the upheavals. Also, climate change seems to be escalating at a much faster rate than expected. But, I do believe that there are many aspects of life for many of us to appreciate, but we have to be alert to all potential evils. Of course, evil cannot be eliminated, but we probably have to find the best possible solutions to avert suffering, and this may mean facing up to the underlying sources, and examining them in a reasoned way.
  • Unknownparadox
    1
    I tend to think of evil as negative energies, or tendencies destructiveness.Jack Cummins

    I think evil is the unpleasant side of the cycle of life or evolution. Everything that I know of follows two rules. Survive and reproduce, provided the creature being produced isn't defective. Life or evolution does does not care how you survive and reproduce. So long as you do, or at least try to. Theft, poison, deception, murder you name it. Nothing is out of bounds in nature. While humans have labeled that kind of behavior evil, and seem capable of controlling it. It's just part of the cycle of life. What I have come to believe is. All humans are potentially evil, or we are quite capable of following our original set of rules. The question is, are you willing and able to control your evil.
  • mindgame
    4
    That's a great perspective man. Your right about life being unpredictable, that's ultimately why I always use "extremes" to try and find where they or if they meet. Often times I find a interesting connection that leads me to believe opposites attract. I think everything in life must be beautiful if we have gotten this far and witness it? The good the bad and ugly are still a part of our collective conscious I assume in the name of working toward harmony vs hate. Our ancestors did their part, but history seems to be a wakening call for morality toward the voiceless. Maybe good and evil symbolize eternal life and eternal death ? My mind wanders in search for understanding , but I feel As long as my message makes it to my great grandchildren we have done well. So I guess as long as harmony prevails I need you as much as you need me to keep this boat afloat !
  • mindgame
    4

    That's a great perspective man. Your right about life being unpredictable, that's ultimately why I always use "extremes" to try and find where they or if they meet. Often times I find a interesting connection that leads me to believe opposites attract. I think everything in life must be beautiful if we have gotten this far and witness it? The good the bad and ugly are still a part of our collective conscious I assume in the name of working toward harmony vs hate. Our ancestors did their part, but history seems to be a wakening call for morality toward the voiceless. Maybe good and evil symbolize eternal life and eternal death ? My mind wanders in search for understanding , but I feel As long as my message makes it to my great grandchildren we have done well. So I guess as long as harmony prevails I need you as much as you need me to keep this boat afloat !
  • Apollodorus
    3.4k
    I tend to think of evil as negative energies, or tendencies destructiveness. Aside from any religious worldviews,Jack Cummins

    I quite agree with that. I think destructiveness is the key to understanding evil.

    The world we live in seems to be characterized by a certain order. When we act in ways that interfere with and disturb that order, for example, by causing injury, taking someone's life for no good reason, committing mass murder, destroying the environment, or spreading ideologies that promote evil, then this is destructive behavior that amounts to evil.

    One needs not hold any religious views in order to regard something as evil, i.e. harmful and reprehensible.
  • Outlander
    1.5k
    anyone who thinks they have justification to deny other humans the same right to life and happinessTheArchitectOfTheGods

    Oh please. We just had other people do it for us so now we don't have to. You, we all, exist on that foundation. Now sure, there's no extenuating purpose to do so at present, so we often don't, smile, and call ourselves good people. But is it right?
  • BitconnectCarlos
    1.5k
    Typical whataboutery of "everybody does it". Funny thing too, I said "regimes" in general and not "Israel" in particular. Why so defensive? Their oppressive policies are not "evil", y'know, like "everybody elses", are they?180 Proof

    If we're talking about oppression in the broad sense then every regime oppresses - it's just a matter of nature and extent. Even if we remove regimes from the picture humans oppress; it's what we do - we accept some things and not others. I support others call out genuine injustice where it exists, but I will police tone and phrasing.
  • 180 Proof
    10.2k
    So you agree 'by-policy-oppressive regimes' (in general, of course) are manifestly "evil"?
  • BitconnectCarlos
    1.5k


    No, I don't believe that because oppressive policies in one area can be counterbalanced by good policy elsewhere. We also need to be on watch that the definition of evil isn't constantly being cheapened as this removes our ability to combat real evil.
  • 180 Proof
    10.2k
    So the "evil" of the Stalin's regime (e.g. gulags, show trials, purges, collectivisations, 1939 non-aggression pact with Hitler, etc) was "counterbalanced" by the Soviet Red Army fighting for five years until the Nazi regime was defeated?
  • BitconnectCarlos
    1.5k


    Stalin did so much evil that he's completely unredeemable. Stalin's hand was forced once the Germans attacked in '41 so it's not even like he made a heroic decision to fight at that point - he had to.

    I was thinking more along the lines of FDR's decision to place Japanese-Americans into internment camps. That was clearly a bad decision and oppressive, but it would be unfair to stop historical analysis there and label the FDR administration as evil.
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