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What or who is evil?

Discussion in 'Alley of Dangerous Angles' started by Nakia, Dec 10, 2006.

  1. Dinsdale Gems: 13/31
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    Evil would be acting outside the accepted values of whatever is deemed right and wrong in society. In Western Civilization that would be the tenets of Judeo-Christian religion. Whether you are religious or not, Western values are based upon this. Therefore, using this definition, both fornication and murder are evil acts (albeit differing in severity). However, nowadays moral relativism seems to be the order of the day so the definition is much more hazy than it used to be. Many believe moral relativism to be an extremely slippery slope.

    I don't believe that nature is capable of evil since animals don't have the moral compass that humans do.
     
  2. Gnarfflinger

    Gnarfflinger Wiseguy in Training

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    That's what I've been using for a definition of evil here in the alleys...

    That's a second component. Choosing to do that which is morally reprehensible.

    That's what makes ethics such a touchy subject. To some what they do makes sence, or even seems right, but to others, it is morally reprehensible.

    That ratio would be a scale of evil, the greater the harm, the greater social evil. But harm is not the only indicator of evil. Perhaps a willful defiance of what is considered good could also be considered evil...

    Acts of war and self defence would be such circumstances. Also, killing someone who is a threat to those you care about would qualify. If someone threatend my mother, for example, and I were to oppose this to the point of the other person's death, that would not be evil.
     
  3. Abomination Gems: 26/31
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    So then Hitler's grand idea to purge the world of Jews wasn't evil because according to German society at the time it was considered the right thing to do?

    I don't think what is evil could ever possibly be agreed upon. I don't see fornication as an evil thing especially if all parties involved understand what is happening and go along with the act willingly. For something to be evil there MUST be harm or at least intent/desire to harm.
     
  4. Nataraja Gems: 12/31
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    From the Nazi and general view of the German people, the Jewish solution was not evil. It was sincerely for the best in their view. However, to the rest of us, it is 'evil'...so in the end its really just neutral, and depends on how you look at it.
     
  5. Ilmater's Suffering Gems: 21/31
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    I think before you can debate the nature of evil, you have to debate whether morality operates under platonism or welfarism. Evil has to be normative in nature to have any practical purpose.
     
  6. Dendri Gems: 20/31
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    Right.

    Ponder this then:

    During the Weimarer Republik "general view" of Jews wasnt all that unfavorably. An indicator would be the comparatively high number of 'mixed' marriages.
    And during Drittes Reich, the Nazis kept the fate of the Jewish Germans - die Endlösung - from the German public for a reason.

    I hate to get in the way of convenience but that's rather sloppy and careless an example for relativity of "evil".
     
  7. jaded empath Gems: 20/31
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    Fine then, for a historical example vis-a-vis the relativity of 'evil', try....


    The SPANISH INQUISITION!!!
    ♫ <DA-DAAHHHHH!> ♫

    :D

    No, seriously. From the perspective of the Inquisitors, they weren't doing evil...maybe at worst harmful things to a temporal body for the betterment of the 'inquistionee's' immortal soul - unless they converted to Christianity, they'd languish in Hell for eternity. :(

    To the people being tortured, on the other hand, it was more of a lose-lose proposition; be maltreated to death, or recant your religious beliefs... :mommy:


    (Oh, and be honest - did you expect this? ;) )
     
  8. Felinoid

    Felinoid Who did the what now? ★ SPS Account Holder

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    History (and by extension, society) is written by the victor. I guarantee you that if the Axis had won WW2, Hitler's act wouldn't be considered the slightest bit evil as the victims would have demonized competely. Jew would be a curse word, and Hitler would be looked on as a savior of the world. Good and evil are defined by the society; the prevalent world society (perhaps someday galactic or universal...).
     
  9. AMaster Gems: 26/31
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    No they most definitely would not. Acts of war and self defense may be necessary, but remain evil nonetheless.

    Go pick up a military history book, one that does a good job of describing exactly what happens in a battle. Severing people's limbs is evil. Disembowling people is evil. Shattering bones, rending skin, spilling intestines onto the earth, etc, etc; these acts are evil. They are also part and parcel of war. Ergo, war is evil. Even when it's necessary.

    Same applies to self defense. Think--truly think--about what 'killing the person threatening my mother' entails. Say you use a gun. Think about exactly what 'using a gun' means. Think about the high-velocity bits of metal (bullets) puncturing skin. Think about them fragmenting. Think about exactly what 'fragmenting' in a human body means.

    Now tell me that isn't evil. Even if it's necessary.
    'By society' maybe, but you aren't society. Every person can and should come to own conclusions about what is evil, regardless of what Victor Davis Hanson (or whomever) says.

    Yes, those conclusions will be influenced by parents, friends, lovers, television, books, and so on; but no one is (or at least needs to be) slave to such influences.
     
  10. Bassil Warbone Gems: 12/31
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    Selfishness is the root of evil so I would say that most humans are inherently evil.
     
  11. jaded empath Gems: 20/31
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    Well, it's been almost two whole pages, and I'm proud of the fact that no one has taken the easy away out and simply posted

    "I am :evil: "


    (Waitaminute...aw, poopy :aww: )
     
  12. Nakia

    Nakia The night is mine Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    But most humans have the ability to love, not just eros but various types of love and to be unselfish.
     
  13. Ilmater's Suffering Gems: 21/31
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    Evil is more then simple biology in practical usage. It is not evil to look out for yourself (unless you're an altruist I suppose), even in ways that are unnecessary (as much as I hate advanced capitalism, it's premium on unnecessary material wealth isn't evil in itself). If selfish action leads to your own harm or another then that'd make for a more practical evil. If I or no other is harmed in the action I take then what purpose is there in labeling it evil? (as a note when I speak of harming myself I don't mean strictly physical harm, if my selfishness degenerates my mind into a state of depraved indifference, then it is harming me)

    To label selfishness as evil itself removes evil from the physical realm; selfishness is an idea and for evil to exist in selfishness allows for evil to exist as thought alone. Damn it, I sound like a half-rate philosopher of language right now (and I don't even like most philosophers of language either).
     
  14. The Magister Gems: 26/31
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    The gratest problem with defining acts of evil is that the acts themselfs are rarely evil in the eyes of the people who do them. This makes defining the acts in question a problem.
     
  15. Gnarfflinger

    Gnarfflinger Wiseguy in Training

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    Eliminating an active threat, while not pleasant, is not necessarily evil. Blatantly ignoring the consequences of not eliminating this threat may be evil, for you are blatantly risking the lives of innocent people because you do not wish to act. Sloth is one of the Seven deadly sins.

    The soldier is simply to do his job with honour and not seek to torture his enemy, but to simply fight. The soldier that does this is not evil. In some cases, it may be an unpleasant way to support the greater good.

    Both of you have a point here. Selfishness, be it pride, greed, lust, what have you, is evil, but overcoming that selfishness is how we do good...
     
  16. Cúchulainn Gems: 28/31
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    Is that why Jesus was pacifist, Gnarff? I didn't read about him riding a horse into battle, and slaughtering the Romans.
     
  17. AMaster Gems: 26/31
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    I suppose I should clarify; acts of war are evil. Those who commit them are commiting evil acts, but that does not make soldiers evil. Sorta like 'love the sinner, hate the sin', really; except unlike so many of those who say that, I actually mean it.

    IMO, we cannot allow ourselves to lose sight of exactly what 'upholding the greater good' means when it involves violence, either on a personal level or on a large scale. I'd be the first to admit that violence can be necessary, but we need to keep in mind exactly how awful it is in order to keep ourselves from using it when it is not necessary.
     
  18. Register Gems: 29/31
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    Man isn't evil, the act he commit may be evil though.
     
  19. Bassil Warbone Gems: 12/31
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    Most humans have the ability to love if it suits thier needs. Most humans have a sense of loyalty or duty, but few if any possess the quality of selflessness. In a lot of cases an act of charity is done for self gratification or because it is convienient.
    Am I not my brothers keeper? All selfishness harms not only you but everyone around you and indirectly all of humanity. So, I would say that is a fairly evil state of affairs.

    Evil can and does exist in thought alone and selfishness does not exist without thought. Most of a man's life is consumed with selfishness. Even if he begins with pure intentions, necessity or presumed necessity will push you tward selfishness or "to look out for yourself". If I am wrong ,why do we live in a world where a large portion starves while another waste and so on?
     
  20. Kitiara Gems: 14/31
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    My 2 cents worth.

    Taking a life without need or necessity is inherently evil.

    An example, Native Americans would kill a buffalo and use every single part of its body for something useful, nothing to waste. However, hunters now a days hunt for single organs, leaving the rest of the bodies to rot unused.. than when that same hunter dies his body is embalmed and buried so deep that the circle of life is broken and his body is useless to the same earth that he raped. This to me is Evil .

    A mentally unstable man may accidentally kill a child, by ignorance or an honest chemical imbalance/brain defect which causes him to be oblivious/not aware of the consequences of his actions... This to me is not evil . However, a mentally unstable person who derives pleasure from purposely killing or abusing a child is evil, no matter the cause or reason for his mental instability. If his mother/father beat/abused him then he is a product of evil. Born innocent but trained to be evil from His environment and not to be forgiven as it is a circle that needs to be broken.

    Gaining pleasure from any non consensual torture, death, rape, and not to mention maliciousness, ruthlessness, and jealousy for the gain of power is the root of evil.

    Power is Evil, Money is Evil, Vanity is Evil, & Obsession is Evil.
    These things are the root of all evil and keep it alive and thriving.
     
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