• Ilya B Shambat
    170
    Just about anything that has appeal to people can be used for wrong. This also includes things that have moral appeal.

    Patriotism is a value that can be used for wrong. Through history there have been all sorts of leaders who exploited patriotism for all sorts of wrongdoing. Seeing this, some have decided that the problem is with patriotism and national pride. That is wrong. Patriotism is healthy. It is good for Americans to think that their country is great, and it is good for the French to love their country. The problem is when a positive thing that is patriotism gets used to wage needless wars, hate other countries or portray as cowards or traitors or posers anyone who has value for anything from abroad.

    Altruism is a value that can be used for wrong. Communists appealed to the virtue of altruism to create a brutal totalitarian state. Seeing this, Ayn Rand decided that altruism leads to dictatorship. That is wrong. There is nothing dictatorial or totalitarian about Freemasons or Salvation Army. Stalin's appeal to altruism to do hideous things does not damn altruism; it damns Stalin.

    Family is a value that can be used for wrong. There are all sorts of people who appeal to “family values” in order to justify incest or domestic violence. Seeing this, any number of people decided that something is wrong with family. I used to be one of these people; then I had a family of my own and realized how wrong that stance had been. Family is not the problem; incest and domestic violence are the problem. Family can – and should – be done better.

    Logic is a value that can be used for wrong. People use logic – or appeal to logic – to practice emotional cruelty or materialistic bigotry. Seeing this, any number of people decided that logic is a bad thing. Logic is not a bad thing; emotional cruelty and materialistic bigotry are. Logic as such is a useful method, and one that is responsible for all sorts of valuable things.

    Realism is a value that can be used for wrong. Many people are of the opinion that creative pursuits are unrealistic. They have an inadequate understanding of reality. The reality of human world is something that people shape with their actions; and if more people create a demand for the arts, then more people who are willing to supply the arts will be able to make ends meet. In 1920s especially, reality and creativity worked together. There was a great economic and technological boom; there was also a cultural bloom that included Harlem Renaissance, Picasso, Dali, Modigliani, T.S. Eliot, Dorothy Parker, Scott Fitzgerald and the Modernist and Art Deco styles. The two found ways to work together to create magnificent architecture such as the Chrysler Building and beautiful machinery such as the Packard. Seeing the abuses of the concept of realism, any number of people decide that the problem is with realism or even with reality. The problem is with an inadequate understanding of what reality is.

    Morality is a value that can be used for wrong. Many people appeal to morality to justify brutal, cruel or oppressive behavior as well as abuses against creativity and beauty. Seeing this, some people decided that morality is bad. Morality is not bad; it is necessary. What is not necessary is brutal, cruel, oppressive behavior and abuses against creativity and beauty.

    God is a value that can be used for wrong. People may decide that serving God means burning witches or killing infidel. Seeing this, many people decided that religion is a delusion or a form of control. The problem is not with God. It is with wrong things that people do for God without realizing that an omnipotent being does not need their help to kill anyone.

    Humility is a value that can be used for wrong. Kids go around beating up on students who take school seriously, and others go around abusing beautiful and creative women. The claim in both cases is typically that the person is arrogant and thinks oneself better than everyone else. Of whatever arrogance such a person is guilty, the arrogance of the attackers – in claiming to speak for everyone – is far greater. Both intelligence and beauty create good things, whereas nothing good is owed to this attitude. Seeing that attitude some people – including myself – came at one point to the conclusion that humility is a bad thing to strive for. I found out that it is a good thing; but abuses in its name are not.

    Strength is a value that can be used for wrong. People think that strength is about beating people up, or about being a bully, or about being a despot. Whether as gangsters or as dictators or as cowboys, these people inevitably become jerks and do stupid and destructive things. Seeing this, some people have decided that strength is a bad thing. It is in fact quite a good thing. It has to be wielded rightfully.

    Beauty is a value that can be used for wrong. Bad parents and stupid teenagers attack girls who are not seen as attractive at home, and unscrupulous plastic surgeons exploit women's insecurities to keep them spending huge sums of money on unnecessary treatments. Seeing this, feminists have decided that beauty is the problem. It is in no way the problem. Beauty existed long before these abominations existed; it will continue existing long after they are gone. The problem is not with beauty but with abuses of beauty.

    Politeness is a value that can be used for wrong. People may decide that it is rude or offensive to tell others their real opinions. They may equate this attitude with respect. That is wrong. If you truly respect the next person, you will tell them your honest opinion however offensive it may be. That way they know where you stand rather than being left guessing. What we get with this idea of politeness is not respect but insincerity. Seeing this, some people believe that politeness as such is a bad thing. Politeness is not a bad thing; insincerity is.

    Achievement and success are values that can be used for wrong. People get put into what is known as a “rat race,” and they are prevailed upon to stay in that or else. Seeing this, any number of people have decided that achievement and success are manipulations. In fact there is nothing inherently wrong with such things. The problems happen when these things become compulsory, and people are not allowed to do anything else.

    Money is a value that can be used for wrong. People sell others things that are bad for them or blindly plunder natural treasures that they have not created and cannot recreate. Seeing this, any number of people have decided that money is bad. Money is not bad. Unethical business practices and plunder of nature are.

    Responsibility is a value that can be used for wrong. People may decide that responsibility means driving Hummers or having huge houses. They may decide to act in a vicious and cruel manner, making people choose between having medicine and having dinner or between taking care of the grandfather or sending the son to college. They may think that it is irresponsible to be in a pursuit that does not make much money for you but has vast benefit for many other people. Seeing this, some people have decided that responsibility is a wrong thing. It is not a wrong thing. Wrong ideas of what responsibility means are.

    Freedom is a value that can be used for wrong. People decide that freedom means denying people Medicare, or people decide that freedom means smoking crack. Seeing this, some people decided that freedom is the problem. Freedom is not the problem. Abuses of the concept are.

    Justice and fairness are values that can be used for wrong. People decide that justice means slaughtering the propertied class or relentlessly persecuting people they do not know. Seeing this and more, some people have decided that justice is really about vengeance and that vengeance is something that weak people want. In fact, as Plato said, fairness is necessary for harmonious perpetuation of life; and civilizations need to have one or another workable concept of justice and fairness to keep people from revolting or spending their lives in misery.

    Peace is a value that can be used for wrong. People may decide that peace means keeping everybody oppressed, or people may decide that peace means branding with untreatable disorders the people who may not be happy with any given arrangement and claiming that these people are evil and can only be evil whatever they do. Seeing this, there are any number of people who have chosen trouble or violence. Peace however is a beautiful thing. The problem is when its enforcers do things that are wrong. And this is what we see both with the Soviet Communists who claimed that anyone who disagreed with Communism suffered from “sluggish schizophrenia” and with the folks in the West who want “sociopaths” and “narcissist” behind bars.

    Love is a value that can be used for wrong. There are all sorts of seducers and players, and there are many situations in which loving relationships turn bad. Seeing this, any number of feminists have decided that love is a patriarchial racket. Love is not a racket; playing is. As for situations in which actual love turns bad, it is not the fault of love but can be a result of all sorts of things, some of which may be the fault of one or both partners and others may be the fault of third parties.

    All of the above, and more, continue daily. The abuse of concepts in such a manner discredits the concepts themselves. Some people will be confused and mistakenly equate the value with its abuses, and others will exploit confusion to tell people all sorts of lies for their own gain. In either case it is necessary to clear up the distinction between the value and the abuses of the value. That way the value survives and imparts of its virtues, and those who turn good things into bad things have less power to do wrong.
  • Merkwurdichliebe
    1.3k
    Nice. Very comprehensive.

    If I may ask, why did you use the term money instead of wealth? I just ask since it is a broader category which allows for greater generalization.
  • Bitter Crank
    7.8k
    All this is true: there is nothing good that can not be perverted into an evil. Patriotism, altruism, family, love, peace, justice, freedom, responsibility, achievement, beauty, politeness, strength -- all these things -- remain good, however. We don't need to qualify our teaching that the good attributes of life are good, and that the bad attributes of life are bad.

    What we must do is always remember what is good and what is bad. If freedom of speech is a good thing, then don't complain when somebody says something you don't like. Freedom means that other people are likely to behave in ways you disapprove of. Freedom means that some people will vote for Hillary and some people will vote for Donald. You may not like it, but that's what freedom means. If you really can't tolerate people behaving in ways you disapprove of, then you need to find yourself a country run by a rigid theocracy where people are SEVERELY PUNISHED for deviating from the straight and narrow path.

    Not only will other people behave in quite disreputable ways, they will also inform you that your behavior is impossibly tasteless. But that's what you get with freedom.

    So, we need to learn what we ought not to do, as well as what we should do. We should not be hard hearted. We should not betray the people of our country. We should not lie, cheat, steal, and murder, and so on.

    I think that properly raised people tend to understand well enough what is good and what is forbidden.
  • Frank Apisa
    896
    Aside from the fact that your thesis makes an assumption (of sorts) that we all agree on what "wrong" is...

    ...the thought that hit me instantly after reading it was the question...

    ..."So what?"

    Your observations and insights are credible...

    ...but to what avail?

    Can you flesh that part out a bit?
  • I like sushi
    1.1k
    Morality is a value that can be used for wrong. Many people appeal to morality to justify brutal, cruel or oppressive behavior as well as abuses against creativity and beauty. Seeing this, some people decided that morality is bad. Morality is not bad; it is necessary. What is not necessary is brutal, cruel, oppressive behavior and abuses against creativity and beauty. — Shambat

    I don’t quite see how this makes sense. How can someone suggest “morality is bad”? Surely that’s an oxymoron.
  • Ilya B Shambat
    170
    I am not suggesting that morality is bad, I am suggesting that it can be used for wrong.
  • praxis
    1.3k
    I am not suggesting that morality is bad, I am suggesting that it can be used for wrong.Ilya B Shambat

    some people decided that morality is bad — Shambat

    It seems you're suggesting that some people are oxymorons.
  • Ilya B Shambat
    170
    "It seems you're suggesting that some people are oxymorons"

    Funny Praxis, I said that some people decided that morality was a bad thing because it, like everything else, can be used for wrong.
  • Shamshir
    425
    morality was a bad thing because it, like everything else, can be used for wrong.Ilya B Shambat
    How so?
    Morality by itself adheres to right-being; so without the addition of naivete it fails to harm.

    To elaborate, how is right used for wrong without being wrong?
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