• invicta
    595
    Human beings whilst in one regard are capable of performing completely selfless acts of kindness are equally capable of doing the opposite to such extremes as murder and endless wars.

    Yet these two facets of human beings raise question as to man’s nature are we inherently bad or good ? Or perhaps we are both ?

    Yet to understand why good or bad acts are commited one must also understand the context in which they take place for example in WW2 both sides committed murders but if one’s reasons for doing so were to stop the bad guys committing more than it’s understandable after all the allies were the good guys. In that context it was necessary to protect our freedoms which would otherwise have been eroded by the Nazis.

    But man must eventually learn right from wrong good from evil and hence morality.

    So are human beings good or bad (or evil) or is the leaning to either side just a misunderstanding of human nature or are there genuinely good reasons why evil takes place ?

    Or is evil just a manifestation of a human beings nature and his worst side ?
  • 180 Proof
    14.5k
    ... as to man’s nature are we inherently bad or good ? Or perhaps we are both ?invicta
    Neither. I think as a species we are inherently deluded – an organic alchemy of cognitive biases, maladaptive habits & akrasia – homo insapiens. 'Moral ramifications', I suppose, are a fallout from both our individual and collective struggles with – for and against – our delusions.
  • invicta
    595


    The concept of charity such as feeding the hungry gets neglected by a billionaires escapism for wanting to go to Mars.

    It is true that there is immeasurable suffering in the world that is due to apathy from those that can help but who do not. And there’s a saying that goes something like all it takes for evil to take place is for good man to do nothing.

    We have well documented examples of serial killers too who whatever their psychological motivation may be the acts themselves are nothing but evil.

    As a species we may in fact be deluded or unaware of our actions and their consequences, certainly the ego holds us back there if not completely blinding us and preventing the escape from such collective delusions.

    This delusion can also be called ignorance, lack of self-knowledge and ultimately lack of compassion.
  • Vera Mont
    3.7k
    Yet these two facets of human beings raise question as to man’s nature are we inherently bad or good ? Or perhaps we are both ?invicta

    Since humans invented both concepts, and humans describe and define the world and everything in it as a reflection of themselves, humans must possess the characteristics they designate as good and bad. What's confusing is that they individually disagree at any given time on which is which, and the majority opinion shifts over time.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    12.6k
    Yet these two facets of human beings raise question as to man’s nature are we inherently bad or good ?invicta

    Human nature is neither good nor bad. We can look at the human being as having capacities, which provide for the reality of power. And as Plato explained, one can direct one's own capacities toward good, or towards bad. So the same person who has the power to do great good in the world , also has the power to do great evil in the world.
  • invicta
    595


    Comparing the animal kingdom in terms of human behaviour is to misunderstand the role of man as the apex of creation, knowledge and reason still creating irrational acts because emotion and because we still retain our animalistic side despite being higher on the evolutionary scale.

    It is reason and intellect that accords us the ability to tell right from wrong or good from bad.

    Our intellect and reason separates us from the animal like a dog that would bite your leg for no reason other than it is an animal, or feels threatened or just because that’s the animals nature.

    To rise above the animal nature is to understand that man need not kill man.
  • Vera Mont
    3.7k
    To rise above the animal nature is to understand that man need not kill man.invicta

    Good luck with that one! Men kill a lot more men than zebras kill zebras or tigers kill tigers.
    Rise above animal nature... what vanity!
  • Tom Storm
    8.6k
    So are human beings good or bad (or evil) or is the leaning to either side just a misunderstanding of human nature or are there genuinely good reasons why evil takes place ?invicta

    Neither. I don't really accept the notion of 'evil'. We use this word 'emotionally' to describe detrimental impact, but the person undertaking this 'evil' is likely made this way by situational factors and flawed reasoning.

    I think as a species we are inherently deluded – an organic alchemy of cognitive biases, maladaptive habits & akrasia – homo insapiens. 'Moral ramifications', I suppose, are a fallout from both our individual and collective struggles with – for and against – our delusions.180 Proof

    Strong words but I think correct.

    Comparing the animal kingdom in terms of human behaviour is to misunderstand the role of man as the apex of creation, knowledge and reasoninvicta

    I think humans are clever animals who use language to manage their environment. I see no reason to theologize humans or utilize categories like 'apex of creation...'
  • Vera Mont
    3.7k
    the role of man as the apex of creation,invicta

    That is a serious problem. Creation? Apex? The role of man?
    The Biblical delusion?
    We should have been able to come with something more plausible by now!
  • BC
    13.3k
    we still retain our animalistic side despite being higher on the evolutionary scale.invicta

    We don't have an "animalistic side" -- we are all animal--animals descended from animals.

    True enough, "we have reason and intellect that accords us the ability to tell right from wrong or good from bad". But we also have reason and intellect assisting us in sometimes achieving our least attractive desires. We might possibly, perhaps, know right from wrong and good from bad, but these arms are at least somewhat flexible.

    Our best selves may have flourished when we were wandering hunter-gatherers. Being civilized for several thousand years doesn't seem to have civilized us all that much.
  • BC
    13.3k
    the role of man as the apex of creation, knowledge and reasoninvicta

    Sort of Shakespearean.

    What a piece of work is a man, How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty, In form and moving how express and admirable, In action how like an Angel, In apprehension how like a god, The beauty of the world, The paragon of animals. — William Shakespeare - Hamlet
  • 180 Proof
    14.5k
    ... the role of man as the apex of creation ...invicta
    'Man as apex-predator', yeah okay. No amount of "creationist" dogma, however, changes the fact that the human genome is more than 96% identical with the chimpanzee genome. We're just bald, locquacious (i.e. proselytizing, sermonizing, bloviating) primates in the animal kingdom. Oh yeah, our uniquely distinguishing superpower is that we're a knowledge-creating species; however, it's the knowledge, not us human primates, which is "separate and above" the animal kingdom. Human history "red in tooth and claw" provides the most graphic and repetitious testimony that humans are beasts not angels, inseparable from the animal kingdom, not "above" it. Also, Plato's Euthyphro is instructive as a cautionary tale about unsound reasoning from supernatural premises about "good and bad". :monkey:

    I think humans are clever animals who use language to manage their environment. I see no reason to theologize humans or utilize categories like 'apex of creation...'Tom Storm
    :up: :up:

    :halo:

    We don't have an "animalistic side" -- we are all animal--animals descended from animals.

    Our best selves may have flourished when we were wandering hunter-gatherers. Being civilized for several thousand years doesn't seem to have civilized us all that much.
    BC
    :fire:

    :up:
  • Vera Mont
    3.7k
    There is a lot of that - an assumption of superiority, even supremacy - in all human cultures. It's an almost inescapable tenet of our self-regard as a species. (We must be the best, or we couldn't have killed off most of them, right?) Until we examine it with some degree of objectivity.

    But when you start thinking about where our idea of right and wrong, good and bad came from in the first place, it gets really muddy. Guppies have no sense of right and wrong, good and bad - they just swim around looking for food and depositing eggs on plastic foliage.
    Chimps, OTOH do some really bad behaving. Do they know the difference between good and bad? Do they have a concept of evil?
    All social animals have rules of conduct and means of communicating the rules; of warning a youngster: "You're pushing the limits of tolerance. Back off or get punished."
    But I think only humans have come up with so many creative ways to justify and codify antisocial behaviour.
  • schopenhauer1
    10.3k

    The argument answers itself. There would be no humans if people were following what is good, as to burden the next generation with life, is itself not good. Rather, principles like not causing unnecessary harm and autonomy of those being so imposed upon, would take precedent.

    It is also questionable whither it is good to give burdens to people to overcome, like the enthalpy needed to survive in the first place. This can all be prevented unto another. But the very reflex to say, "But they would learn through their experiences", means that the deontological principles are not common or easily digested by many people.
  • BC
    13.3k
    Chimps, OTOH do some really bad behaving. Do they know the difference between good and bad? Do they have a concept of evil?Vera Mont

    Seems like chimps would have to know what good and bad are before they can be accused of "really bad behaving". IF they don't have the concept of good and bad, then they are merely behaving. A cat doesn't catch mice because it is good (or bad), but because it's in their nature to catch mice.

    Homo sapiens also exhibit a variety of behaviors which are our nature, not because they are good or bad. Having said that, setting up moral and ethical schemes seems to be one of our features, which we exhibit not because we are so very very good, but because it's in our nature (language, etc.) And we can also argue that we did NOT violate this or that moral code because X, Y, and/or Z. Dogs can't; we can.
  • invicta
    595
    @Vera Mont @180 Proof

    The apex of creation was followed by “evolutionary scale” if you two bothered to read that paragraph properly. No theological assumptions granted there.

    Now, although, all species being derived from evolutionary process since inception have adapted to their environment, man as the crowning achievement of such process sits right at the top by fact of us being able to subdue beast and to some extent nature itself that gave rise to us.

    @BC indeed a brilliant summery by Shakespeare there, and despite the religious objections above, places human beings in their own special category compared to a lion or a chimp, with lions too being apex in their own environmental food chain, they got nothing on man which is why we enjoy a safari in their own turf. How’s that for messing with their pride?

    Having made the distinction a bit clearer between man and beast above the question still remains somewhat unanswered. The reason for this is because the difference between a good or a bad action are not always clear cut, nor are their motivations.

    Now, sure, human history is indeed a bloody one, but you also get good deeds there too. It’s pretty much like the news these days, they always focus on the negative occurrences in society, whilst the real world I’d say consists of good behaviour as well, perhaps not as common as bad but still there.

    Man a creature of rational intent whereby better socialisation can turn that intent to good side rather than bad, wants to inherently do good I believe but gets corrupted, turns to hate somewhere along the line and does bad stupid shit, hating his fellow man in the process to the extremes of wanting to kill him, because of petty differences or simply because he slept with his wife.

    Whatever the many reasons for man wanting to kill another man may be, we do know that moral frameworks, makes this a punishable offence and a crime. Thus man rises above his animal nature and instinct there by fact of making laws, that guide if not deter such actions.

    Human history may be littered with bloody war and murder but it’s a macrocosm of such reasons as outlined above, although forgetting to add power struggles too.

    And yet good chivalrous acts are easily forgotten when humanity does get its act together for a greater good.
  • Tzeentch
    3.5k
    My view is that man's nature is inherently good, and evil behavior is the result of unmet needs coupled with ignorance of the self.
  • 180 Proof
    14.5k
    The apex of creation was followed by “evolutionary scale” if you two bothered to read that paragraph properly. No theological assumptions granted there.invicta
    :ok: Riiiiight, the whole thread failed "to read that paragraph properly". The phrase "evolutionary scale" doesn't have anything to do with natural selection since there is no telos at work in nature. Anyway, invicta, I take your lack of response to my post as your concession to the points made by me and the others cited there. :smirk:
  • Tom Storm
    8.6k
    evil behavior is the result of unmet needs coupled with ignorance of the self.Tzeentch

    Can you expand on this, especially ignorance of self?
  • invicta
    595
    Is that response denying the fact that humans are peak of nature/evolution? @180 Proof As I stated in my last post, we’re capable of transcending our base animality at times but cannot help give in to it.

    Although it must be also observed that animals too are capable of good acts, I saw a video of a monkey rescuing a kitten who was stuck in a well.

    Your point is that humans are inseparable of the animal kingdom, in a sense we are in as far as our biology is concerned but it’s reason truly sets us apart.

    Whether we’re truly good or bad inherently is briefly addressed in my last post, and a few before.

    My position is that we’re inherently good, but it’s jealousy, hate and thirst for power that leads us astray as well as the desire to subjugate or subdue our fellow man.
  • invicta
    595
    :ok: Riiiiight, the whole thread failed "to read that paragraphy properly". The phrase "evolutionary scale" doesn't have anything to do with natural selection since there is no telos at work in nature. Anyway, invicta, I take your lack of response to my post as your concession to the points made by me and the others cited there. :smirk:180 Proof

    Also not interested in the mechanics of evolution for the sake of the question posed , though my responses might have used such terms evolution/creation as literary licence. This is not the thread for it.
  • Tom Storm
    8.6k
    My position is that we’re inherently good, but it’s jealousy, hate and thirst for power that leads us astray as well as the desire to subjugate or subdue our fellow man.invicta

    I think love and generosity and nurturing also frequently lead us astray. Hence the archaic expression that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    man as the crowning achievement of such process sits right at the top by fact of us being able to subdue beast and to some extent nature itself that gave rise to us.invicta

    I'm not convinced that this 'crowning achievement' is a useful frame as I said earlier. Humans are often very cocky and smug about our technology and our metacognition, but it's a form of question begging. How can a human perspective be used to justify the 'greatness' of the human perspective? While I am as speciesist as the next person and would save my daughter over my cat (if I had to), what I would be doing here is responding to biological programming and shared cultural values and preferences that are likely hard wired into most of us by socialisation.
  • universeness
    6.3k
    Are we an evolutionary apex? Can we exemplify enough of what we might claim are improvements throughout our history on this planet, that shows it is good, that we still survive and grow as a species.
    Would it be 'bad' if we go extinct?
    I don't really care about good and bad, as notions, in the face of evolutionary fact or in the face of any new technical ability our species might invent and activate, other than the fact that we must deal with such subjective judgements, personally and as a local, national, international and global group.
    You either believe we can continue to 'improve,' or we are truly f*****.
    We are the best creators that actually exist, no other existent, that we currently know of, can create an aeroplane, an atom bomb, a fantasy story or a space shuttle.
    We are the only existent that we know of, capable of perceiving an asymptotic goal, of reaching a so called 'apex of creation.' That's why we invented silly but understandable (due to primal fear) ideal's such as deities.
  • invicta
    595


    It’s not necessarily a supposition that we’re better than animals, although we are in most aspects, a fish just can’t build a rocket and go to the moon. A fish of course is incapable of having such a discourse as we’re having but if they could speak they’d immediately acknowledge our superiority to them in almost every aspect apart from being able to breathe under water. So it’s undeniable that we’re a far more progressed species than fish in terms of evolution, hence my use of the term evolutionary scale.


    The below picture is photoshopped, there are no documented fish astronauts.

    vqword7xmmdtsool.png
  • Tom Storm
    8.6k
    I get what you are saying. But I sometimes look at fish and wish more people were just like them. The no talking, swimming away bit is especially attractive.

    It may be a question of preferences here. I am not really fond of terms like superior or apex or crowing achievement. I don't see a hierarchy of evolution but I know humans like to put themselves at the top of every list. I acknowledge that some innate capacities (in humans or animals) are better for a certain purpose, but I don't overplay this card. But there's no reason to explore this further, it's a side issue.
  • invicta
    595


    There are of course many examples of pure evil in history Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Charles Manson, and a few serial killers that I can’t remember the name of. Could such behaviour have been prevented with the right nurture or educational socialisation do you think ? Nurture can shape nature, at least that’s one of my current beliefs.
  • Tom Storm
    8.6k
    Could such behaviour have been prevented with the right nurture or educational socialisation do you think ?invicta

    I have worked with many prisoners over the years. People who have done unspeakable things - murder, child abuse, kidnapping, maiming, arson, pyromania, violent assault, abuse of women, you name it. I have never met anyone who wasn't made that way or distorted by upbringing or by abuse, trauma, neglect, mental disfunction. And almost all have been male.

    I understand that Pol Pot is called pure evil but to me this doesn't help us to make sense of the behaviour. Pol Pot may well have thought he was acting towards the common good, trying to improve the world according to a plan, even if that plan involved an awful but necessary price to pay. Žižek talks about this in relation to Stalinism and other totalitarian expressions. The people who burned witches likely thought they were doing the right thing too. I think pure evil is the term we use when we can't make sense of behaviour. But I understand the attraction to such terms.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    12.6k
    There is a lot of that - an assumption of superiority, even supremacy - in all human cultures. It's an almost inescapable tenet of our self-regard as a species. (We must be the best, or we couldn't have killed off most of them, right?) Until we examine it with some degree of objectivity.Vera Mont

    We must assume superiority in order to give ourselves the right to do what we do to the other living beings. And we must give ourselves this right in order to protect and feed ourselves. In other words, the assumption of supremacy is necessary in order for us to actually have supremacy, as ideology precedes actuality.

    Man a creature of rational intent whereby better socialisation can turn that intent to good side rather than bad, wants to inherently do good I believe but gets corrupted, turns to hate somewhere along the line and does bad stupid shit, hating his fellow man in the process to the extremes of wanting to kill him, because of petty differences or simply because he slept with his wife.invicta

    Whether or not human beings inherently want to "do good" depends on how we would define "good". Such a statement would require that all of our instinctual actions are directed towards goods. But this is really not consistent with the common definition of "good", as many such actions are designated as directed by bad intentions.

    There has been an attempt in Christian theology to define "good" in the way that you propose. This is based in the idea that the end which the will is directed toward, in the case of an intentional act, is called "the good". That is how Aristotle described the intentional act. From this definition, any intentional act is necessarily directed toward a good, and we can say as you do, "our instinctual actions are directed towards good", because our natural inclination is to act according to our intentions.

    However, this way of defining "good" produces a duality in types of good outlined by Aristotle. We say that the act is directed toward a good, because it is directed intentionally, and that's the way "good" is defined, as what intention is directed toward, but we still want to be able to judge some intentionally directed acts as wrongful. So Aristotle outlined a distinction between an apparent good, and the real good, to allow for this difference. This principle was adopted into Christian theology. The goal of moral training therefore is to produce consistency between the apparent good and the real good. Then we can say that human beings inherently want to do good, but this turns out to only be the "apparent good". Then we're still faced with the problem of how to determine the real good.
  • Tzeentch
    3.5k
    Can you expand on this, especially ignorance of self?Tom Storm

    When one's needs aren't met, it creates suffering and pain.

    A failure to acknowledge this will inevitably cause the pain to be suppressed, so as to avoid the pain of having to process these emotions. It ends up in what Jung called the shadow.

    From there, the pain will find an outlet in other forms. Anxiety, depression, and of course resentment. anger, projection, etc.

    Because the person is psychologically wounded, the well-being of other persons becomes less important to them.

    The person ends up in a spiral of desperately attempting to have their needs met, while not truly understanding what their needs are and where their suffering stems from (because this issue was put in the freezer a long time ago). Failed attempts cause further suffering and compound the problem, ending up in a vicious cycle.

    The tragedy is that people who undergo this aren't aware of it at all until they find help at a later stage, if they find help at all. They might think, at least on the conscious level, their actions are perfectly normal, and that isn't strange considering how prone we humans are to confirmation bias and wishful thinking. (Though, because subconsciously one might be aware, these abnormal behaviors tend to make the condition worse.)

    Their ignorance ensures their fate is sealed, unless they receive help or come to realize their predicament through some form of crisis.

    If neither happens, the shadow grows until eventually it starts lashing out in behavior which we might term "evil".
  • Vera Mont
    3.7k
    The apex of creation was followed by “evolutionary scale” if you two bothered to read that paragraph properly. No theological assumptions granted there.invicta
    If you want this proposition to be taken seriously, you might look to the language you employ.
    Also a few of the assumptions you seem to have considered superficially, if at all.

    Now, sure, human history is indeed a bloody one, but you also get good deeds there too.invicta
    Whatever the many reasons for man wanting to kill another man may be, we do know that moral frameworks, makes this a punishable offence and a crime. Thus man rises above his animal nature and instinct there by fact of making laws, that guide if not deter such actions.invicta
    Sure there's wars, genocides, crusades and jihads, killing of our own species on a massive scale, but we're so superior to other animals that we also kill one another for killing one another.
    And for every thousand people we blow up, we also help one; for every thousand children we let starve to death or sell into slavery, we feed one and rescue another from abusive parents; for every million chickens we slaughter in factories, we save an orphaned fawn.
    Sure we're destroying our own habitat along with that of all other species, but we're so much better than other animals that we do so by legal means.
    Sure, vast numbers of us follow and obey evil leaders, torture and pillage in their name, but we're so much better than other animals that we recognize them as evil after they're dead and the damage has been done.

    Man a creature of rational intent whereby better socialisation can turn that intent to good side rather than bad, wants to inherently do good I believe but gets corrupted, turns to hate somewhere along the line and does bad stupid shit, hating his fellow man in the process to the extremes of wanting to kill him, because of petty differences or simply because he slept with his wife.invicta
    "gets corrupted somewhere along the line" .... By what means, whose agency?
    If the good is inherent and the evil is not, why hasn't the good triumphed yet, in the apical top peak of evolutionary progress?
  • 180 Proof
    14.5k
    Sound reasoning spits into the dogmatic ocean, but still ... :clap: :fire:
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