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Author Topic: exploration of what good and evil is  (Read 3010 times)

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Offline KateTopic starter

exploration of what good and evil is
« on: January 02, 2011, 07:35:40 PM »
exploration of what good and evil is ...


Offline KateTopic starter

Re: exploration of what good and evil is
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2011, 08:29:03 PM »
Firstly this discussion focuses on Western issues concerning this topic  (as i personally know very little about eastern views however im sure considerable overlap exists)

I would love those who read this be gracious (and tolerant) on others views of good and evil, for the following reasons.

What is good to some is not necessary good to others. For example: People should be polite to each other and such politeness entails x y and z. and x y and z are good.  But if x y and z are adopted, it may remove the possibility of a b c being done in their place, things someone else thinks is better, so a conflict of good becomes logistic (not just academic - as if you do good 1 you cant also do good 2).

Usually when I watch the news most politicians debate how a "better" good is being jeopardized by a "short sighted" good or "misguided good" the opposition party is trumpeting.

This i think is the cause of a lot of frustration in our society, for the scope of releavence of different "types" of good vary from person to person, intention to intention, belief landscape to belief landscape

for example : Free speech / expression => Good

vs

prevention of slander or unproven accusations

(eg your a witch ! Your sick pervert ! A dingo didn't kill your baby - you did You sick bitch ! murderer !).

 Straight away their is a conflict of good (assuming all have typical values and actually want to express themselves freely and in the same breath dont want the world believing you killed your own baby and ostracizing you )  A lot of what I think is the source of this dilemma comes from the English language itself and not necessary people

Ownership and identity are very key concepts in western culture, when mixed its a receipy for disagreements quickly

This person is "IS a witch" => identity being assigned to a person who is not the speaker (ie English allows others to attribute identity to others, not just oneself).

Ownership also => "You are a jerk" or "you are sick" or "you are a liar". The speaker is assuming a position of assumed awareness (objectivity), and authority assigning these traits to another generically.

Removing implied identity ownership makes it become more workable, gives it more options for the other to have a sensible conversation with

"To me your a jerk" "To me your sick"

watering scope down makes it even more palatable => "To me your a jerk when it comes to how you behave when we play sport"

watering the trait down can result in the following - an expression of what they felt

"To me I felt you were a jerk when it comes to how you behave when we play sport"

Inspecting feelings usually results in a value landscape appearing

"To me I felt you were a jerk (to what I value) when it comes to how you behave when we play sport"

Values usually are a sense of a persons private sense of good

"To me I felt you were a frustration to my sense of good when it comes to how you behave when we play sport"

(Ie i wanna play too and your so good at the game I never get time to have the ball you always have it, and I can't get better without practice of the ball being in my possession, all the while your just getting better having more practice and you give me crap about how useless I am, its not fun .. its just empowering your ego trip and well your a jerk about it .. my sense of good I visualized for this time is ruined - due to your behavior and experiencing it is not a fun feeling I feel disemboweled)

Assuming others share the same landscape of good is something many run with, and can lead to very ugly scenarios. Countries thinking "good is when I own this land" and another country thinking "our good is you don't".. being the most obvious.

English did this almost by indirect design. English primarily is a sublime trading language, its highly useful for drafting conditions of transactions and more importantly (to the crown) WHO is authoritarian. Who is the one that chooses if something is true or not. Attributing ownership and responsibility, accountability etc is what English does best. If your a colonial power wanting to exploit spices etc from a dozen islands and have it regularly shipped back to the mother land - forcing all to know English and getting job descriptions / rules / laws contracts etc drafted in them gives an enormous amount of power and flexibility to whoever "owns" (the right to assume a mantle of authority).

This is not something core to humanity however in some cultures didn't have a word for "I" ... for example I think some native American Indian cultures didn't.

Now this doesn't resolve to highlight ALL issues concerning what good and evil are .. what I have explained JUST touches on GOOD alone.
still good to one can be an "evil" influence on another good (as it is actively existing in the place of another good). and i think is useful to just hint at the fact that "what is evil" or "not good" or "bad" COULD be a good to another.

Also I wanted to highlight the trap of how easy it is in english to assign ownership to another and a mantle of authority so easily, and how hard it is to over come it

"You murderer" takes 1 second to say ... undoing that so no rumor ramifications plague your life .. could take a lifetime, could be impossible.

English language and our culture automatically bias' power to sentences assuming objectiveness
(undoing this or getting them to justify it properly isn't so easy .. just look at politicians bickering)


 

Offline Jude

Re: exploration of what good and evil is
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2011, 10:42:29 PM »
First of all, I don't think it's very logical to describe human beings as good, evil, neutral, innocent, et cetera.  It's an attempt at boiling down the moral state of a person to one word.  Everyone is more complicated than that.  So are our actions, that which motivates them, and the consequences of our actions.  Even if labeling a person was possible, you would need to know the totality of their existence and then you would have to weigh each portion against each other to come up with a final verdict.  It's clearly impossible in the case of anyone but the most egregious of offenders and saintly of heroes.  Focusing on each individual "component" of an action gives you different moral systems:

- If the consequences of an action are what's important to you, then you're a teleologist.
The problem here is, if you decide whether an action is good or bad based on the outcome, then people are going to do bad things all the time simply because we cannot know the consequences of our actions in advance.  That seems like a rather fickle basis for a moral system.  Plus, if we're acting based on intended consequences, what's really happening here is fixation on what we intend to do, so Utilitarianism is not only fickle, but more than likely completely impossible even for the most devout of follower and self-contradictory.

- If what a person intends to do is what's important to you, then you believe in <I don't know what this is called>.
Focusing on intent alone basically absolves people of the consequences of their actions.  This puts emphasis on sincerity even if that sincerity is backed by delusion or insanity.  Furthermore, I'm not sure if anyone exists in the world who doesn't believe that what they're doing is for the best, even Hitler thought his actions were going to bring humanity into the future by promoting the growth and prosperity of the master race.  It isn't enough to have good intentions.

- If what a person actually does is what's important to you, then you are a deontologist.
Those who believe in the ten commandments fit in this group.  I personally have a problem with deontology because although other moral systems can be expressed in terms of deontological moral systems, you arrive back at the basic fundamental problem:  how do you arrive at these rules which form the basis of morality?  Ultimately accepting that there are moral rules to follow and duties that we all have is well and good, but buying into this doesn't help you actually find those ethical rules.

- If you're spiritual you can always buy into the philosophy of divine command, but "this is right because god says it is" isn't exactly ironclad either.

- The golden rule is crap because it's completely biased to your own expectations of how things should be.  For example, you might want someone to kill you because you're depressed and think life isn't worth living, that doesn't make it OK for you to kill other people.

These philosophical bents (and many others including character ethics) try and solve the problem, but none really succeed whatsoever.  What's interesting is that focusing on the components of action does lend some interesting (albeit imperfect) results.  It makes sense that you have to consider the consequences of what you do, but at the same time some acts almost always lead to negative consequences (such as rape) and some failures can be excused on the basis of good intent.

The problem is that all of my scattered thoughts do not in any way lead to a clearing of confusion that results in the emergence of a moral system.  There's faults in all of those kinds of thinking, so how can you ever know how to act?  The answer is pretty simple:  you can't.  It's an approximated process, and in some situations you're set up to fail without ever even making a choice.  Life is full of unsolvable moral quandaries, and to me the fact that there is not a solution to every problem speaks volumes on the nature of morals.  Morality is not a hardcoded, mathematical, or scientific system.  It's a touch-and-go mixture of ideas, doing the best you can, and with a focus on remaining practical -- which is pretty much the opposite of philosophy.

One thing I will contend is that it doesn't make sense to make moral decisions about beings and/or things that are currently not capable of making moral decisions and never will be (which isn't to say a being's future capacity for moral choices gives them present moral worth -- that's a quandary I haven't resolved myself, especially in the context of abortion).  This explains why it's OK to chop down a tree, but not a stab a person (both are a form of life, so life doesn't really make a very good basis for argument there).

For me, the single most important thought is that even if there isn't an absolute ethical code build into the nature of reality, treating some principles as right or wrong make the world a better place (in terms of suffering and joy) overall, thus there's obviously some worth to social contract concepts.  This is a mixture of Hobbes and Utilitarianism really, and at the most basic level it rings true.  I also like a lot of what John Stuart Mill had to say.

Offline Tick

Re: exploration of what good and evil is
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2011, 11:10:47 PM »
Not sure I can really match both of your posts in value but I will throw my two cents in.


Defining good and evil, is as forementioned, impossible on a global scale since different groups value the actions in different ways. For many theists what God says is good, is good. Simply put that is a straight forward system with a moderate degree of logic behind it in the greater factor of life. That being said, I am going to put down a debate prompt from a few years ago in Lincoln Douglas debate.

Is it Just to kill one innocent person to save lives or more innocent people.

I believe this prompt is a prime example of what we are discussing. A theist friend of mine and me discussed this on a personal basis once and his belief was that it was unjust since you would be directly responsible for the death of the one in order to save the many, which was a sin. Where as the death of the many was a issue of circumstance that even if you chose to save them it was a sin to commit such an act in the process. Sin being an act of evil obviously. As Jade said, this would be an example of deontology, a word I had forgotten till said earlier.

His reasons for such are obvious, being a catholic murder is nice and simply wrong. When you attempt to single out a responsible party in both cases the person who chose not to help might be considered evil but at the same time, they were trying to follow their god's set values.

But when you take a greater being out of the equation, to define good I think it should be taken as a step by step scenario. First of all, what is the goal? Without a higher being, and afterlife to take into account what is the greatest goal of the human race? Personally i believe it is happiness and I am often called a hedonist for my views. But from my obwervations, whether they are accurate or not I cannot promise yet, but even environmental workers and those who donate a lot are after happiness in one form or another. They want the world to live longer and better because they love mother nature and want her beauty to last indefinitly(this is my personal experience with the group, might not pertain to all). Similarly those who donate large sums of money to the happiness of others. In both cases the acts tend to make the person in question happier or more comfortable with themselves.

Even religion had such forms of desire in them. For instance those who wish to save others from hell obviously want others and themselves to enjoy themselves eternally in afterlife. It might not be the foremost reason that they do it, but it is at the basis of the idea of someone going to paradise. Even the act of rape, as sick as it can be, is aimed at some sort of happiness and pleasure. Maybe not for the victim. Mind you I am against rape except for writing purposes or rping assuming that the people involved enjoy it, but half the time i think if the rape victims I know in real life and it makes me sad. Does that make their roleplaying evil? Not entirely since it wasn't the intention but it was their intention to enjoy themselves.

I guess my point can be summed up by a single line from Aristotle, "Every Qrt and every inquiry and similarly every action and pursuit, is thought to aim at some form of good." First page of Nicomachean Ethics.

All statements made were not meant to offend any group or person and if you disagree with anything i said, feel free to prove me wrong.

Offline KateTopic starter

Re: exploration of what good and evil is
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2011, 11:26:11 PM »
i like how your both approaching this - this already has an aura of maturity for a subject that can easily move into tangents of passionate schools of thought being loud.

Although none have really gone down this path just one thing that i would like to state right now,
is many beleive in god - but not necessarily the views of a particular religion. Theism implies belief that god exists (this can range from
fundamental interpreations of sacred texts or priests or clerics or  as somethign that is unknowable at least in the sense that they dont have faith in bibles or anothers take on the thoughts and values of such a being, and that it may be unlikely to be understandable at all).

"What god says" is not agreed to for those who beleive in god some can beleive it exists but not something that takes the time to really intervene MORE than just existing (or the act of creation) or that its presence alone is intervention
- the creation of reality which we live within (ie we are not separate to it) IS god...

In a way Tick i think your right  - and jude also actually -

A raper who ADORES raping - is serving a "good" within their own intentions.
"Getting off is good" and better than not doing so. Him being locked away its "good" for those who otherwise would be
"victums" (which there are schools of thought on if such thing is true spiritually), or could easily be debated as good for the society.. but not good for the intentions of the raper. IE conflict of good - 1 good can exist in a space where other goods want to fill and they cant share the space because the action of one ruin the possibility of the other.

One thing i see tangential is that "god" exists in this thread.

Before we continue do we want the existence of a "God" or a "overarching / fundamental" sense of good being relevant in this ?


Offline Shjade

Re: exploration of what good and evil is
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2011, 11:56:43 PM »
@Tick: I'm not sure what you're getting at in the latter half of your post. You say good, or perhaps the goal of good acts (a little unsure which you meant?), is happiness.

Happiness for whom?

If anything done to generate happiness is good, then essentially everything that people do is good. I kill your father because I'll be happier knowing he can't tell the police I've been embezzling from his company. You kill me for the cathartic feelings that come from avenging your father. Is one of those acts more "good" than the other? We both were happy with our respective outcomes, so they must both have been good acts, right?

I could go out on a limb and suggest you meant something like "good is what brings the greatest happiness to the the greatest number of people," or something to that effect, which would give it a little more definition, but doesn't really resolve my problem above or situations similar to it.

This won't be very helpful of me, I know, but all I can think of good and evil is that they're socially-constructed concepts: they're relative and determined more by community values than any foundational truths. Good is what the people around you say is good, and the same for evil - unless, of course, you disagree with them, in which case what is good for you is evil for them, what is evil for them is good for you, a clash in personal values. Ultimately that's all it is: personal values.

Offline Tick

Re: exploration of what good and evil is
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2011, 12:18:34 AM »
I keep forgetting these terms.

I am not exaclty referring to utilitarianism but close. I more refer to the net good, or happiness brought.

But the last half of my earlier post was actually trying to point out that all personal values, and moral beliefs are at their base, aimed at happiness. For the user or others. Morals themselves make people comfortable and in a sense happier because they know what is acceptable and what isn't. Public morals also ensure happiness within your society. The morals of a group are typically aimed at the public good. For instance the Aztecs sacrificed hundreds to keep everyone as a whole alive. Or I think it was the Aztecs... Hopefully someone can confirm which native American culture sacrificed humans to keep the sun rising each day.

I agree that morals are personal and subjective, but my point is that happiness is the basis of all morals.

At least that is my opinion.

Offline KateTopic starter

Re: exploration of what good and evil is
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2011, 01:36:49 AM »
A lot of confusion happens between those who beleive

that the current life is "all there is", and those believing "there is life then the after life"
and those believe in reincarnation (who may also beleive in an after life).

I personally beleive in reincarnation not necessarily from a karmatic perspective imposed but more a choice thing.

Souls on this earth could have issues they need to manage ... perhaps a victim of rape as a soul got frustrated not understanding rapers and came back as one... or that a raper themselves to resolve their own issues with another soul came back as a victum to the soul they victumised before hand - not for GODs choice of balance and karma pay off stuff but an agreement between individual souls or a choice one soul made on their own.

Some could have simply arrived to "Experience material incarnation to know whats about" as tey were confused with other souls displaying emotional states they didnt relate to and wanted to relate. In these cases (if true - and remember ... I am not TRYING to prove re-incarnation is true but there is some evidence to imply it could be a possibility - when 5 yo speaking in long dead languages they were never exposed to fluently etc or go to a new place they have never seen before and explain they know this and that and can point out details they couldn't have known otherwise ... again "if that is true or real" from others point of view i am not going to debate - just that evidence exists for some who wish to look for it - and likely beleive it likely beforehand. ).

"Is rape bad" in these instances ? Should society prevent it happening because they have "more of an idea of why the soul is here" than the soul does ? Or because it causes too much grief. There is an argument that some who beleive in reincarnation debate that even if souls wanted-to resolve or experience something like this for abstract reasons - by eliminating it on earth - doesnt mean the souls CANT do it elsewhere or in a different reality.
 
The existence of souls vs "just people" driving intentions or objectives does complicate what "good" can be concerning human behavior.


Offline Jude

Re: exploration of what good and evil is
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2011, 12:08:07 PM »
When you bring the supernatural into the equation it becomes impossible to rationally decipher what is and isn't wrong given that it's seemingly impossible to verify whether the supernatural does or does not exist (some would say this is because it does not, but I don't think that's relevant to this discussion).  The soul is a concept with deep, far-reaching implications.  If human beings have souls and souls are eternal, it would greatly reduce the horribleness of murder, for example.

Ethical thinking, to be at all pragmatic for personal application and societal use, has to be an extension of that which we know is real, true, and present.  Without that, you have no basis for discussion, exchange, and mediation of differing morals.  That's why the divine command theory is so utterly nullifying of any other philosophical concepts:  it leaves no room for debate, discussion, or consideration.  It just is.

So I really don't think it's at all practical to speak of the soul, as people can have value with or without it, and all souls do is muddy the water by adding in spirituality to what can be a purely philosophical system.  Inability to consider ethics divorced from religion is one of the greatest problems facing the world today.

Offline mystictiger

Re: exploration of what good and evil is
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2011, 06:11:36 AM »
Ethical thinking divorced from religious views are actually quite dificult to achieve in practice. The standard example of this are human rights. Agreement with various human rights norms is generally a Good Thing (tm). But where do these norms come from, and are they universal?

The only metatheoretical answer that makes sense is that they are Natural Law. Which means that they are mandated by God / The Force / Something. Otherwise, they're all entirely relativist and transitional.

What is so self evident about the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit to happiness without this Natural Law filter? A human being is only unique and special and of inherent dignity if you either:
a) declare it to be so arbitarily
b) trace it back to a non-human source of authority

I am of the opinion that 'good' means 'for the benefit of society' for the most part. But what do you do when your society is twisted? I think of the people that resisted unjust laws or nasty regimes.

Offline KateTopic starter

Re: exploration of what good and evil is
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2011, 07:41:43 AM »
'for the benefit of society' or for the "good of most people" is I think were we are as a culture get really entangled.

We have the ability to impose any good on anyone - not absolutely but generally we can. Culturally we do it horribly.

Politicians debate which is a "better good" compared to their counterparts constantly. Ethics of the value of human life for example. I do beleive this is mainly historical and cultural, and that mainly comes down to charismatic individuals or politically influential themes in the past.

EG: Ethical stances on Euthanasia.

Ethically massive human right abuses can be justified. Which is good for human's rights, and bad also in the same breath. Eg for euthanasia, forcing a family to keep a member alive even though they are in pain / don't want to live, effectively brain dead has an irreversible disease etc. Causes immense logistic, financial and emotional stress on the family, and could be debated as an unecessary and cruel burden the society has placed on a family for values "human rights not to have a right" which don't make sense to the family.

Valuing the quantity of life over the quality of life when a choice can or has to be made causes massive misery and inefficiency, where "good" is abstract and more an ideal that doesnt give happiness, and "bad" things are more real.

Valuing the quality of life over the quantity of life when a choice can or has to be made can also lead to human right abuses => Eg lets wipe out all of X (ie disabled and dying ) such that the rest who are the majority can have quality of life .. but wait think that is unethical ? Not really because if you eliminate the sickly constantly especially before they breed what is left after generations is a healthy hardy population where the bureden of health is less ... better quality for all ... for many generations to come.. horrible for several generations maybe but the future will be thankful for us...

Offline mystictiger

Re: exploration of what good and evil is
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2011, 08:53:24 AM »
Euthanasia is not as clear cut as you suggest. Merely because you think that euthanasia is acceptable does not mean that it is ethically simple.

House summed up my view on euthanasia really very simply - you can live with dignity but you can't die with it.

An argument based on logistics or finance isn't an ethical one, it's an economic one.

An argument based on the obligation to the family is irrelevent; the only view that matters is the view of the patient.

You also work on the assumption that:
-That a right to life includes a right to die at a time and in a manner of one's chosing.
-Being free from pain > being alive.

These are not self-evident truths, and they are arbitrary judgments that you've made as to value.

Offline KateTopic starter

Re: exploration of what good and evil is
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2011, 09:09:23 AM »
I never said it was simple, i did said "better for all" I think its where we are as a culture get really entangled.

Offline Cooper5362

Re: exploration of what good and evil is
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2011, 12:55:21 PM »
Good an evil are actual real qualities in the universe just like light and dark.  While you will never find either in their pure form, because they are real, it is easy to identify tendencies.  For example, just as the sun would be construed as light and the voids in space as dark, people can get to know a rapist and know they are evil as opposed to someone that promotes self control and know they are good.  This is because there are actual measurable qualities to the two forces of choice.  Evil will always look to control others without ever checking itself, while good is in touch with reality and seeks self control without looking to control others.  No one is truly able to follow either of these forces cleanly in their intent or actual action, so the question of utility is pointless in determining the scale to which people are choosing one direction over the other.  Good actually rests on truth and order, or reality in the end.  Evil hangs on ignorance fear and is an illusion creating chaos.  Choosing to gather knowledge and act out of respect is the good path while reacting to ignorance with fear is the evil path of choice.  As it turns out, the universe has an infinite set of knowledge to gather while people can only hold a finite amount of it.  Given this fact, there is always a certain level of ignorance and fear in every person.  Religious writers have recognized this condition and call it "the fallen state" while others have tried to produce labels more neutral to emotion like "accuracy" or  the "Heisenberg uncertainty principle".  The bottom line is it takes infinite knowledge to always be good and no one gets to do that as a human because of knowledge limits.  Some people want to shy away from good and evil at that point and cling to cultural norms as the "truth" when, in fact, they are guaranteed to not be the truth.  A fine example is murder in the U.S.  Just because someone killed someone else, does not constitute an actual move for or against the universe.  It is impossible to know if a murderer is more evil or good without understanding the action in depth.  However, the U.S. errs in stating it is always a crime and even makes the jaw dropping mistake of saying it's the highest crime.  The fact of the matter is, rape and torture are the highest crimes because you know, by definition, that someone is controlling someone else to the victim's detriment and the criminal's self indulgence.  Even this area can get confusing though, because pain can be a fair and good exchange as the BDSM community will explain.  So it becomes important again to understand the choices made to be able to categorize how much good and evil is in an act, and then deal with the fact that both are always present.  In the end a fair definition of the two choice forces are this:

Good is the choice to stay true to the universe.
Evil is the choice to make the universe go away.

It is always important to remember that even the more skilled chooser of evil will think it is doing a good thing because their inaccuracy is so high, they can easily convince themselves they are being true to the universe because they are just satiating themselves.  It is the universe that determines the actual result of the choices made and doles out the consequences that determine the real level of good or evil in an action.  The universe responds to good with order and evil with chaos.  Disease will spread wildly in evil choice making while it is less rampant in good choice making.  Again though, you can't find a purely clean spot any more than you can find a completely infected spot.  We don't have to go to the extremes to recognize the two forces though.  We cannot find a spot in the universe completely packed with light, nor can we find a pure vacuum with no energy in it at all, but we still understand light and dark are real, just never pure.

Offline Shjade

Re: exploration of what good and evil is
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2011, 02:37:17 AM »
Good an evil are actual real qualities in the universe just like light and dark.
If that is true, how do you measure them?

Good is the choice to stay true to the universe.
Evil is the choice to make the universe go away.
What exactly makes absence evil and presence good? For that matter, according to whom is this true? Is this just your opinion or has someone proven this to be the case? If it is only your opinion, how does this assertion reconcile with the previous statement that they are real qualities (meaning something that can be measured and assessed and, as such, not subjective)?

You make a lot of statements about the way things are according to you. I'm not seeing much "why" to support them. Why is my choice to steal money out of the hat of a homeless man good (staying true to the universe: survival of the fittest, looking out for myself, doing what is necessary to continue existing as myself in this rendition of reality - define it how you will) while the contrasting decision to simply ignore the man (willing him - and the universe, by extension, to go away), in which case he gets to keep his cash, evil? If that's not what you meant by those descriptions I should hope that example at least succeeds in pointing out how grossly ambiguous "stay true to the universe" and "make the universe go away" are as summaries of motivation and action. You could bend those to mean just about anything.

Offline SuperHans

Re: exploration of what good and evil is
« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2011, 04:45:48 AM »
Like people have said, it's difficult to measure evil in purely human terms. Evil would require an individual to be so far beyond the point of redemption and so devoid of goodness that there is no other term applies, and I don't think that's possible.

To me, evil is tied down in the concept of nature verses nurture. In many who commit acts we would deem to be evil, we find evidence of nurture in their behaviour. Abusive dad, difficult childhood, alienation at school and so on. While other more adjusted children come out of the nightmare with only minor pysychological scars, it still provides an accountability for later behaviour. But if the 'nature' argument is true and people really do perform evil because they were born that way, then that makes the argument for evil more compelling. Either the individual is truly evil, or there is a force of evil in the universe that caused that cold misanthropy, or the brain defect that removed emotion and empathy.

This is touching on Stephen King territory here, but whyen you get a place where evil has taken place, you seem to get an 'imprint' left on it. I've had friends who visited Auschwitz-Birkenau who could just feel the sense of loss there; obviously, they knew its history and were being shown the various horrific implements and conditions, but there was something more. People experience it in battlefields and places of massacre also such as Darfur. The evil done there seems to taint the place-not in any overtly supernatural way such as violent ghosts, but subtly.

I think there is a force of good also. It's not necessarily tied in to religious or karmic concepts, but at times, like evil, it's possible to feel it. It can't be measured in scientific terms and doesn't have a physiological trace, but many think it circulates.

Offline Jude

Re: exploration of what good and evil is
« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2011, 09:47:55 AM »
I completely disagree on that charge because what you're saying is supernatural.  There's no reason to believe that visiting a concentration camp led to a sense of palpable evil and that whatever you felt wasn't simply an emotional reaction to the history you're aware of.  Even being ignorant of the history there and in the presence of people who are not would give an individual the sense that something is off about the area in how other people act.

If you wanted to actually test that hypothesis you'd have to have a person who is completely ignorant to the atrocities of the holocaust, send them there to spend a little time, remove all visual cues that hint at what happened or negativity in general, then see if that "sense" that you believe is there rises to the top.  Naturally, nothing even close to that has ever been done.

Offline Cooper5362

Re: exploration of what good and evil is
« Reply #17 on: January 13, 2011, 12:07:14 PM »
Shjade, evil and good are measured by the amount of entropy.  It is in fact very scientific.  Up chaos and watch suffering increase.  Reduce chaos and watch peace ensue.  It really is just that simple.

Offline Cooper5362

Re: exploration of what good and evil is
« Reply #18 on: January 13, 2011, 12:11:04 PM »
SuperHans, nothing is completely good or evil in this universe.  In fact, I've noticed only the most daft cannot pick up on the trends.  Saying the Holocaust was more good than evil would give me hard evidence to immediately dismiss that person as either trolling or completely out of touch with reality, and if they decided to act on that opinion, would be an immediate justification to exterminate them before another Holocaust occurred.

Offline mystictiger

Re: exploration of what good and evil is
« Reply #19 on: January 13, 2011, 12:27:07 PM »
Shjade, evil and good are measured by the amount of entropy.  It is in fact very scientific.  Up chaos and watch suffering increase.  Reduce chaos and watch peace ensue.  It really is just that simple.

Given that entropy is increasing in the universe, and that the universe will ultimately die of heath-death, then the universe is evil.

Offline Cooper5362

Re: exploration of what good and evil is
« Reply #20 on: January 13, 2011, 01:44:10 PM »
If the universe is truly finite as it appears, then yes, it is evil.

Offline SuperHans

Re: exploration of what good and evil is
« Reply #21 on: January 13, 2011, 03:59:09 PM »
I completely disagree on that charge because what you're saying is supernatural.  There's no reason to believe that visiting a concentration camp led to a sense of palpable evil and that whatever you felt wasn't simply an emotional reaction to the history you're aware of.  Even being ignorant of the history there and in the presence of people who are not would give an individual the sense that something is off about the area in how other people act.

If you wanted to actually test that hypothesis you'd have to have a person who is completely ignorant to the atrocities of the holocaust, send them there to spend a little time, remove all visual cues that hint at what happened or negativity in general, then see if that "sense" that you believe is there rises to the top.  Naturally, nothing even close to that has ever been done.

Of course there's a degree of psychological conditioning at concentration camps. I think the influence is less prevalent in less-marked sites, like battlegrounds. It's annoying, because before posting back I dragged up the internet to at least find some anecdotal evidence I used to read about in magazines as a kid about people experiencing this, but found nothing. And obviously, it's hearsay, so it wouldn't make too much difference. When the scientific explanation isn't clear, humans just revert to their beliefs.

As for your second point, I'm game if you are! But seriously, I know it would be impossible to test, even if the two of us had infinite time on our hands. Besides, I'm not trying to make explosions in the study of parapsychology, I'm just a guy on a message board.

Offline SuperHans

Re: exploration of what good and evil is
« Reply #22 on: January 13, 2011, 04:05:45 PM »
SuperHans, nothing is completely good or evil in this universe.

I'm not talking about absolutes. I'm talking about forces at work. True, if a person is born a psychopath, then evil is an apt term, but since nature verses nature is still an active debate, it's impossible to talk in absolutes. Black and white morality is rarely justified.
 
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In fact, I've noticed only the most daft cannot pick up on the trends.

I'm sensing a personal affront. Could have misread the signs.

Offline Cooper5362

Re: exploration of what good and evil is
« Reply #23 on: January 13, 2011, 04:16:52 PM »
SuperHans, there is no personal affront.  I was thinking of the president of Iran who maintains the Nazis never tried to exterminate Jews.  You have not shown any daftness to me at all, so I apologize for poor wording giving you that impression.  Your earlier post where you mentioned labeling someone as good or evil prompted my first remark about no absolute.  I don't think it would always invalidate a label though, and I get the feeling you would probably agree.  If we call someone evil, it would be because they cause more harm than good.  If we called someone good, it would be because they caused more help than harm.  Obviously, both labels come with a degree of accuracy and we always run the risk of being inaccurate with a label.  Even when we know someone has done an act of evil (which will have some good in it), the degree to which they were true to evil may be weak and could lessen the severity of the damage done.  Torture has many degrees of evil to it.  Even though the torturer is expressing an evil act and demonstrating their evil, the degree to which they damage their victims determines just how evil the act proves them to be, and it may, or may not, be out weighed by the good they perform.

Offline SuperHans

Re: exploration of what good and evil is
« Reply #24 on: January 13, 2011, 04:32:51 PM »
No problemo, just got a bit confused there!  :-)

The idea of impact of actions brings out another point-is a person's evil measurable by their actions and level of consequences they entail, or their character itself? There are people who are perfectly capable of empathy but utterly reject it, who care nothing for others and have no inclination to act positively. If their actions, through no desire of their own, pan out in a way that isn't completely terrible, then it doesn't detract from who they are. In my opinion, anyway.