• TheMadFool
    2.3k
    Society has rules. Rules are:
    1. Positive: such rules tell us how to think and act. For example, be kind, love each other, help the poor, etc. In short, do good.
    2. Negative: such rules forbid some thoughts and actions. For example, don't kill, don't lie, etc. In short, don't do bad.

    The law, if I'm correct, is mostly about type 2 rules (negative rules). Judicial systems don't impose positive rules of society like they do negative rules.

    Yet, we see so many people engaging in criminal activities and so few involved in practicing the positive rules of society.

    We could say that:
    1. Even in the presence of encouragement to do good and the law not barring such activities we find so few good people.
    2. Even in the presence of laws preventing bad actions and the discouraging of evil we find so many bad people.

    So, doesn't that mean that people are inherently bad?
  • Noble Dust
    3k
    Judicial systems don't impose positive rules of society like they do negative rules.TheMadFool

    Right; religions traditionally did that (impose positive rules).

    Yet, we see so many people engaging in criminal activities and so few involved in practicing the positive rules of society.TheMadFool

    The dichotomy isn't "criminal activity vs. upholding positive values (love each other, etc)." The dichotomy is breaking the law vs. keeping it, on the one hand, and upholding positive values (love one another) vs. not upholding those values. I can hate someone without breaking the law, and I can engage in criminal activity with love in my heart.

    We could say that:
    1. Even in the presence of encouragement to do good and the law not barring such activities we find so few good people.
    2. Even in the presence of laws preventing bad actions and the discouraging of evil we find so many bad people.

    So, doesn't that mean that people are inherently bad?
    TheMadFool

    Doing good is not attractive; it's not flashy and it doesn't grab attention, generally. To truly do good, to truly look out for the well being of those around you, is something that is done without notice, by very nature of the activity. So it's natural that we don't often notice the good that is being done around us.
  • Austin Owens
    5
    So, doesn't that mean that people are inherently bad?TheMadFool

    Yes, man is "bad", and therefore capable of horrific atrocities.
    Conversely, man is "good", and therefore is capable of amazing selfless acts.

    Without acknowledging both sides of the coin you do not have the full truth.
    The law is set up to discourage people from doing harm. (I see your point.. they play on the assumption that man is bad)
    However there are also people who set up non-profit organizations to feed starving people. (these people can't be bad, and can only be seeing the good in humanity)
    These are specific examples that serve as microcosms of the bigger picture. There is good, and bad. Their are people who set out with assumptions about both, but I would argue nobody is inherently bad or good. Rather, I would say each individual is capable of good and evil, and it comes down to individual choice. Could we agree on that?
  • TheMadFool
    2.3k
    The dichotomy isn't "criminal activity vs. upholding positive values (love each other, etc)." The dichotomy is breaking the law vs. keeping it, on the one hand, and upholding positive values (love one another) vs. not upholding those values.Noble Dust

    That's a fine distinction but something tells me it all boils down to good vs evil. You uphold the law because you're good and you break it because you're bad. You do good because you're good and you don't do good because you're bad.

    Doing good is not attractive; it's not flashy and it doesn't grab attention, generally. To truly do good, to truly look out for the well being of those around you, is something that is done without notice, by very nature of the activity. So it's natural that we don't often notice the good that is being done around us.Noble Dust

    That's fantastic. I too think goodness=invisibility.
  • TheMadFool
    2.3k
    There is good, and badAustin Owens

    You seem to be saying there's both good AND bad in the world. I agree but on which side does the scales tip?
  • Noble Dust
    3k
    That's a fine distinction but something tells me it all boils down to good vs evil. You uphold the law because you're good and you break it because you're bad. You do good because you're good and you don't do good because you're bad.TheMadFool

    The problem is that everyone is both; you do good, and you do bad. I do good, and I do bad. It's not a dichotomy of "bad vs. good", of "us vs. them". The only dichotomy is the dichotomy that exists within you, within me. The dichotomy is subjective, in the sense that it's within the subject. Each individual is both "good" and "bad", so if the problem does indeed "boil down to good vs. evil", then the battlefield where this dichotomy is played out is actually the individual person, not society.
  • Noble Dust
    3k


    And so, the assertion that "we are evil" only describes one half of the human dichotomy.
  • Austin Owens
    5


    Ahh very interesting question! Are we talking on a global scale cross-culturally?
  • Bitter Crank
    5.9k
    So, doesn't that mean that people are inherently bad?TheMadFool

    That is the general idea behind Original Sin -- man is prone to sin.

    Doing good is not attractive; it's not flashy and it doesn't grab attention, generally.Noble Dust

    Borne out in the biography and letters of Dorothy Day. Helping homeless and destitute people, especially through close enough contact to effectively affirm their human value, is very low profile work. People don't like looking at the really poor. We look away.
  • Noble Dust
    3k


    *Thumbs up*

    And on top of that, helping mentally homeless and emotionally destitute people, spiritually poor people, is even more difficult, and even less glamorous. The results of helping the physically needy are physical and easy to measure; the results of helping the mentally/emotionally/spiritually needy are way less easy to measure.
  • TheMadFool
    2.3k
    And so, the assertion that "we are evil" only describes one half of the human dichotomy.Noble Dust

    The bigger half?

    Ahh very interesting question! Are we talking on a global scale cross-culturally?Austin Owens

    Global phenomenon.
  • TheMadFool
    2.3k
    That is the general idea behind Original Sin -- man is prone to sin.Bitter Crank

    So, you agree.
  • Bitter Crank
    5.9k
    So, you agree.TheMadFool

    No. I just cited the doctrine of original sin. Our alleged affliction with original sin removes the element of choice, which is convenient. All the bad things that people do is explainable under that doctrine.

    We could assert that man is good, doesn't have the cancer of evil, and everything is for the best. That's way too saccharine.

    What I like better is to say that we are a conflicted animal. We have both selfish and altruistic urges, both of which we encourage in ourselves and each other: different urges at different times, depending... Which is ascendent?

    We could say that:
    1. Even in the presence of encouragement to do good and the law not barring such activities we find so few good people.
    2. Even in the presence of laws preventing bad actions and the discouraging of evil we find so many bad people.
    TheMadFool

    We could say that, or not. Which of these we would say depends on preference, not evidence, because the evidence will always be overwhelmingly mixed, and one can pick out the pattern that one likes.

    But we still haven't gotten to rock bottom yet: What determines our preference for thinking that people are either evil, good, or merely severely conflicted? Probably genes. NO, there isn't an "original sin" gene, a "basically good" gene, or a "severely conflicted animal" gene. What there is are genes that orient us towards a more or less sanguine view of life, and then there is personal experience (which includes education, reading, sermons, human interactions, and so on).

    There isn't anything "wrong" with the three preferences, but they do produce different "affect" in people. People inclined towards a more pessimistic view will frequently align themselves with the original sin view. Those who have a more optimistic view will head for the basically good camp. Chronic fence sitters like myself will head for the conflicted animal corral. And these preferences aren't unchanging or unchangeable.

    No matter what one thinks about human behavior, we throw up conflicting evidence. We continually do good, bad, and indifferent acts.
  • T Clark
    3k
    Yet, we see so many people engaging in criminal activities and so few involved in practicing the positive rules of society.TheMadFool

    I think you've made this whole thing unnecessarily complicated by putting in all this talk about positive and negative rules. What it comes down to is not quite what you wrote in the line I quoted above, it's this - We see so many people doing bad things and so few doing good things that people must be bad.

    And....it's not true. I have no real trouble with Bitter Crank's formulation

    We could say that, or not. Which of these we would say depends on preference, not evidence, because the evidence will always be overwhelmingly mixed, and one can pick out the pattern that one likes.

    But we still haven't gotten to rock bottom yet: What determines our preference for thinking that people are either evil, good, or merely severely conflicted? Probably genes.
    Bitter Crank

    But just keep in mind, as I've said several times before and will say again, BC is bitter and he's a crank. People are, if not good, social. It's part of our human, animal nature. We want to be around each other. We like each other. Our deepest root values are to get along with each other. In other words, to be good. That doesn't mean that we don't do bad things. Social life involves dominance, aggression, and power along with the nice stuff. Civilization and technology have given us the ability to amplify our negative actions well beyond the effort it takes to make them. It's easier to be really bad than it used to be.

    Taking another tack, your view that people's actions are more often bad than good is influenced by the way things are presented. I always laugh at my wife when she's watching local news on TV. The first ten minutes are taken up with bad behavior that they just happen to have video of. That includes events taking place thousands of miles away. What I see on a daily basis is people getting along with each other more or less well. Most human behavior is not good or bad, it's just behavior. Even so, there's lots of good stuff going on. People being polite. Helping each other. Looking out for each other. Strangers as much as friends.

    So, I'll admit to some conflict in my views and I like to think I'm realistic and not one of BC's saccharine optimists. At the same time, I like it here. I like just about everyone I've met. I dislike very few people and most of those are related to my wife.
  • Bacchus
    11
    @TheMadFool

    Your proposition that "we are evil" seems to rest on the idea that the aforementioned rules are some sort of definitive example of good, and that violating those rules, means violating goodness, and being evil.


    I see no indication that that there is such thing as definitive, objective or real good, or evil, nothing is good or evil, right or wrong, just we there is no such thing as objectively fragrant or pungent smells, or definitively delicious and disgusting food. It's a matter of taste, essentially, nothing is good or evil in the same way water is H2O, what is good is whatever you or I feel is good, and what is evil is whatever you or I feel is evil, and if you think something that I think is good is evil or vice versa, we're both right for us and wrong for one another.


    Even if there was some sort of objective good and evil, what makes you so sure that what constitutes "real good" aligns perfectly with the values of the contemporary post-Christian West? Isn't that bit convenient? Don't you think it a bit presumptuous to say that your culture's constructs of good and evil are not just what's right for your culturally, but universally right? What makes your cultural standards of good and evil more true than the idea of good and evil in Pashtun culture, or that of 17th century France, or pre-Christian Rus, or Aztec?
  • TheMadFool
    2.3k
    What I like better is to say that we are a conflicted animal.Bitter Crank

    That's true. Which side is winning? To me it seems society, everywhere, is rigged to explode. All we need is a tiny spark to set it off. What I mean is we have to keep in check bad people more than facilitate the good folks.

    No matter what one thinks about human behavior, we throw up conflicting evidence. We continually do good, bad, and indifferent acts.Bitter Crank

    The conflict you mention isn't equally matched. Our evil side is stronger than our good side. Hence I mentioned the greater importance of keeping the former in check.

    I dislike very few people and most of those are related to my wife.T Clark

    :D LOL.

    I agree that we're, as BitterCrank said, conflicted. Society, as I see it, is highly flammable kept below ignition point by the rule of law. The same can't be said of our good side. There's nothing that puts a cap on goodness and yet we don't see it effervescing to the surface. Rather what we see are instances where the law breaks down and the inevitable mayhem that follows.

    It's a matter of tasteBacchus

    Find me a culture where killing defenseless people is considered good or one where love is bad.

    Objective or not we can't deny that our moral compasses align sufficiently well to find a common ground for my point.
  • mcdoodle
    985
    So, doesn't that mean that people are inherently bad?TheMadFool

    I hope this doesn't sound complacent but, you know, I've lived 68 years and it's mostly been peaceful, modestly prosperous and amicable. I've become a small-town fellow in my old age and the town is a poor, post-industrial, arty-farty place with adverts that say KINDNESS by the supermarket. We're so affable, at least one fellow-poster has considered moving here. I don't feel inherent evil breeding in what some think is a rough town; nor, frankly, inherent good; but at least, a desire to get along, and even if we don't have much, in the words of the old campaigning song, to enjoy roses as well as bread.

    Or, to put it more analytically: 'evil' is a hangover from monotheistic times, let's not be glib in claiming its prevalence.
  • TheMadFool
    2.3k
    Or, to put it more analytically: 'evil' is a hangover from monotheistic times, let's not be glib in claiming its prevalence.mcdoodle

    I couldn't find a better word than ''evil''. As you say, it could be like an old coat that no longer fits and is best discarded. But how would we categorize pedophilia, rape, genocide, slavery, mass-shootings? Do you have a better word that describes the theme among such acts? Shit by any other name would smell as bad.
  • charleton
    1.2k
    So, doesn't that mean that people are inherently bad?TheMadFool

    No it means that what humans do, YOU think is bad.
    Good and Evil are just value judgements.
  • TheMadFool
    2.3k
    Good and Evil are just value judgementscharleton

    And what else could it be?
  • charleton
    1.2k
    NOT "inherently" bad - obviously !!
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