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Author Topic: What makes someone evil?
Jung's Shadow
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I’m not sure I understand this word in the way the some of you use it. Could you please explain what it is that makes someone “evil”? Why is Bush evil? Why is Kerry evil? It seems like a very weighted term; its meaning is very subjective, and yet it is used as if it were a point on a universal measuring stick. Since I think it helps to understand someone’s language before you can understand someone’s philosophy, I’d like it if everyone who uses this term post a quick definition of what they mean exactly. Some use it very lightly as a sign of extreme disapproval, while others connect it with religion. Hopefully this will serve as a reference for critiques of your posts.

P.S. Please do not put “Evil is Bush/Kerry cuz he SUX!”

[ September 28, 2004, 09:01 PM: Message edited by: Jung's Shadow ]

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Zyne
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Why, their alignment, silly.

But seriously ... Perhaps, the taking of or adherence to a moral stance that the one calling "evil!" finds to have no redeeming value.

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Everard
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I don't, actually, think very many people in the world are "Evil."

In order for me to label someone as evil, they would have to be motivated by desires that they themselves considered evil.

Let me take an example to demonstrate how hard it is for me to actually think a person is evil.

Hitler: He was motivated by the desire to strengthen his country, and make it great, and make his people great. He thought he was doing the right thing to achieve those ends. Therefore, I would not label him evil. I would, however, label him as a cause of evil. There's an important distinction in there.

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TomDavidson
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See, I WOULD call Hitler evil, primarily because I think evil is best revealed by the means people use to attain their goals -- even noble goals. Almost no one has evil ends, but many people commit evil in the pursuit of what they believe is good.
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Everard
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Did he think his means were evil? I don't believe he did. And so I can't call him evil. He was honestly trying to "do good." Like many of us, he failed. He failed in more spectacular fashion then most people, however, and so he gets labeled evil.

If the criteria for determining if someone is evil is whether or not they cause evil, then Hitler was one of the most evil people of all time. But I don't think that labeling people based on the results of their actions allows us to understand whether someone really WAS evil or good, precisely because its only focused on what actually happens. Effects of what we cause are usually things we don't desire to happen. If I accept the view that what we accomplish determines whether we are good or evil, then I would label the vast majority of humans as evil.

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aupton15
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See I think acts can be objectively evil whether a person thinks they are or not. And it's hard to reconcile a person who commits evil acts, but isn't actually evil. Hitler is a good example. Killing of millions of people is an act of evil. If Hitler was not possessed by some spirit of evil, I find it hard to characterize him as anything but evil. I don't think he would have considered himself evil, but I don't think his vote counts when it comes to his own actions.

Of all the definitions Webster's offers, the one that I think comes closest to my concept of an evil act is "something that causes distress, sorrow or calamity."

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Everard
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I have no argument with the claim that people can commit evil acts, and that Hitler commited evil acts.

However, to actually label someone evil, as opposed to "idiot" or something of the sort, I think their vote is the ONLY vote that counts. Evil, to me, is the knowing perpetuation of, and intent, to cause distress, calamity, and sorrow. If you don't intend to do so, are you really evil... or are you misguided?

Edit for clarity, because sometimes, typing is a very hard skill.

[ September 28, 2004, 11:05 PM: Message edited by: Everard ]

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TomDavidson
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"I think their vote is the ONLY vote that counts."

I suspect that Hitler knew he was causing distress, sorrow, and calamity, but thought it was worth it. This, to my mind, is a perfectly functional definition of evil. (But, then, I'm largely a pacifist, so it's easier for me to take that position.)

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Everard
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"I suspect that Hitler knew he was causing distress, sorrow, and calamity, but thought it was worth it."

Sure, it might be a functional definition of evil, but its not a very good definition of evil. It makes it easy to label people, without actually trying to understand either people, or evil.

See, under your working definition, its very easy for Redskull to label you as evil, for example, because he believes that you cause distress sorrow and calamity. And, under your usage, he would be right... you've caused distress, sorrow, calamity, whatever, at least to one or two people.

But that doesn't help anyone to understand what the real dynamic is between you and Redskull. It doesn't help us to understand what evil is, because we've simply reduced it to an effect based attribute, and so made it more or less meaningless. Nor does it help us understand you, your motives, your intent, or the context of your actions.

If evil is really something above and beyond being misguided, or failing to understand the full consequences of one's actions, I think your definition fails. If, however, evil is a word that can be substituted for many different words with lesser conotations, then your definition works.

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aupton15
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"However, to actually label someone evil, as opposed to "idiot" or something of the sort, I think their vote is the ONLY vote that counts."

Your use of "idiot" really makes my point the best way. We call someone an idiot based on acts that we see as idiotic. How then can a person who commits evil acts not be called evil? I understand that it's not an entirely objective system, and I agree that intent should be taken into account. Maybe the construct of "evil" implies that there can be no good in them to you, and I can see that as a conflict. I'm sure Hitler could be sweet to those he cared about, but in my opinion that doesn't remove the label of evil. Evil can be a defining characteristic without being all-pervasive.

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drewmie
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What makes someone evil? An opponent saying so out of lack of confidence in their own position. When applied to actual people, "evil" is rarely anything but a straw man and an appeal to fear and weakness. When applied to principles, it often shows a plentiful lack of understanding.

Do I believe in real evil? Yes. But it is far from the sadistic horned creature without reason or morality. It is far more insidious and subtle. It would rather have us distracted by imagined dangers while we wallow in our own filth. Basically, it is ourselves.

Terrorists will do far less damage to us than we do to ourselves by witholding time and affection from our families. Anarchists and thieves do far less damage than those of us who tell the "white lie" to show up late for work or school... again. And to use a current issue, negative campaign ads do no damage at all. They simply encourage people to act on their weakness, fear, and hatred. And we do it in droves.

Hitler was not a great evil, but only a reflection of it. He was the inevitable result of everyday evil by millions for a very long time.

[ September 28, 2004, 11:33 PM: Message edited by: drewmie ]

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Mr Xin Ku
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I think a definition of evil might include BEHAVING IN WAYS THAT ARE INCONSISTENT WITH TRUE PRINCIPLES. I know this is based on the assumption that there actually ARE objective, universally true principles, and that isn’t very post-modern of me, but I think there are. For example, while a society must make and enforce basic rules (e.g., don’t kill people), it is generally a wrong thing to force someone to do anything. People can choose what they want, but they can’t chose the consequences, and getting fair consequences is not the same as being “forced” to do something. In my work I very consciously try to influence people, but there is a line between influence and control.

I think that situations where we are genuinely deceived into thinking we are doing good when we are doing evil are somewhat rare. People have a basic gut sense of whether the things they are doing is right or wrong, good or evil (unless they bury that sense by ignoring it). My vote is that Hitler was genuinely evil. Maybe Saul who became the apostle Paul would be a good example of the well-intentioned bad guy.

Perhaps within this definition there could be degrees of evilness, that allow for a range of “intentions”.

To make a “Jeff Foxworthy” list, you may be evil if:

1. You chose to do hurtful things that you KNOW are evil, and just plain old enjoy the damage it does (e.g., you like feeling powerful as you hurt someone else).

2. You chose to do hurtful things, but you justify them because you feel wronged yourself (two wrongs will make it right!).

3. You chose behavior that hurts others, and you do it to meet your own needs/wants. You fight awareness of how it hurts others, because you want to keep on doing the behavior.

4. You do a good thing, but you intended for it to be harmful.


Items 2 & 3 are the most common.

Example for #3: A parent/spouse justifies cheating on their spouse because it meets some “emotional needs.” I can see how people make mistakes and hurt others, but after they have done it they can change or continue to justify the behavior. The latter path is then evil, because the person is choosing to do things that harm others. If the guy continues cheating on his spouse and therefore hurts her and their kids, then he is choosing evil. He may not enjoy harming others, and will probably just rationalize that it isn’t really hurting them. But he is choosing to go against a true principle (fidelity).

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stayne
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Zyne, dear Gawd, don't start that here! We're all hugs and kisses here compared to some of the alignment flamewars on rec.games.frp.dnd. Fanatic gamers rack up body counts that make WWII seem cheap. [Wink]
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canadian
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The evil switch. Flip it to good...
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Tezcatlipoca
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What makes someone evil?

I think it is a very interesting question, one that deals with morals. As has been pointed out by previous posters, evil is in the eye of the beholder. Someone who thinks that they may be doing "good" could be doing something "evil" by another person's standards. "Evil" is defined as: Morally bad or wrong; wicked. But who decides what is bad or wrong? Where did our morals come from, and why are they good or right?

To me, morals are just something that older people pass down to us. There is nothing you can do about it, because you literally CANT have a different view on the world until you are old enough to make your own choices. What is the point of morals, I find myself asking. Where did these people get their authority to tell me how things should be? If I got my morals from my peers, then my peers must have gotten theirs from their peers, and so on and so forth, for hundreds of years. And still, there is no place where someone was told that this was the "good" morals and this was the "bad" morals. The only place this rule doesn't apply is from rules that are so called handed down from God (or whatever), since there is no way you can know if God exists at all or if what he says is right.

So, if it is impossible to define what is moral and what is not, since all you have is simply assumptions that have been handed down by dead people, how do you know if your morals are what is "good" or "evil"? There can be no such thing as PURE EVIL unless you have an irrefutable source telling you that it is evil, and it is the same with GOOD.

I think saying someone is evil is just a way for you to alienate them for your community or your standards. By placing them outside of your set of morals, you will not have to feel doubt or guilt on the issue, thus freeing you from having to justify why your way is the better way. This will allow you to meter out punishment as you see fit, punishments that you would not want to impose upon yourself since you view yourself as "good".

My summary: We cannot define what is truly evil because we cannot know with certainty if our morals are absolutely correct. Evil is simply a way we justify doing actions to those outside our group that we would not do to someone in our group who is "good".

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nyani
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Mr. Xin Ku has got it I think. Of course "evil" is an objective word; to use it you have to assume that each person is born with the same basic knowledge of what is "right" and "good." I believe that to be true, for evidence I'll mention that all civilizations in earth's history have been rule-based. therefore, for a person to be truly evil they must be actively going against what they innately know to be right, either because they rationalize it or simply don't care. Even if I don't necessarily intend negative consequences on other people, any time I act purposefully against what I know to be right it could be construed as evil.
Evil doesn't involve common sense, it involves unbridled malice, or even indifference, and selfishness. In fact it's stupid to be evil: <excuse the religious imagery> in a world where so many people believe that God and goodness will prevail, being evil is basically the act of aligning yourself with the forces of Satan and saying, "Maybe I can beat God, and if not I'll have fun trying." But evil people like Osama usually can convince themselves that they are carrying out God's will, or that they ARE God, or at least his equal.

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Mr Xin Ku
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Thanks Tezcatlipoca, you just swept away all my guilt! The Man has been holding me down! *takes a deep, cleansing breath*

[ September 29, 2004, 12:58 AM: Message edited by: Mr Xin Ku ]

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Rosenkreutz
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According to George Gurdjieff, a religious teacher, no one thinks they're evil, everyone does what they think is right. I'm not sure I'd go that far, but his point was that most people are very mechanical, and even if they're doing things they think are wrong, they find it very difficult to stop.
One book (The Spear of Destiny) says that Hitler was possessed by the Spirit of the Antichrist. If you don't believe THAT, consider Explaining Hitler, by Ron Rothstein (I think that's the right name), who does a survey of everyone trying to explain him, & doesn't come to any positive conclusions to speak of. He points out that Hitler behaved like a petty criminal at times when trying to cover things up, and that in his table talk during the war, which was taken down for 2 or 3 years, he doesn't come out & admit that he's having the Jews killed and that's the way he wants it. You'd think he would have if he really thought what he was doing was right.

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Tezcatlipoca
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Well, I didn't catch what you edited Mr Xin Ku, but I think you are mis-understanding my motives. I am not saying that what has been passed down is wrong simply because it's roots cannot be found, but instead that knowing that your morals may not be the right ones, and being open-minded about it.

Is there something wrong with my conclusion? Could you help me make a better definition of where morals come from, and what is evil?

I wrote my post without reading yours, which is why I re-presented the question at the top of my post so everyone would know what I was working off.

I'd still like to know why you think my idea is childish.

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JoshuaD
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Well, what makes someone good?

I'd say a good person is someone who considers the effect of their actions on the people around them, and will change what they are doing if it hurts those people. Not necessarily self-sacraficing, but unwilling to "claw their way to the top".

If we agree with that, then evil can be defined as the opposite, someone who looks out for themselves with rampant disregard for the effect his actions has on the people around him.

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JoshuaD
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quote:
Originally posted by Mr Xin Ku:
I think a definition of evil might include BEHAVING IN WAYS THAT ARE INCONSISTENT WITH TRUE PRINCIPLES. I know this is based on the assumption that there actually ARE objective, universally true principles, and that isn’t very post-modern of me, but I think there are.

Well, I don't know if I agree that there are absolute moral truths, but the word "evil" definitely presuposes they exist.

That is, evil is an absolute moral direction. You can't make the definition of evil subjective and have the definition at all reflective of the modern meaning of the word.

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cperry
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quote:
Originally posted by Mr Xin Ku:
To make a “Jeff Foxworthy” list, you may be evil if:

...

3. You chose behavior that hurts others, and you do it to meet your own needs/wants. You fight awareness of how it hurts others, because you want to keep on doing the behavior.


Okay, but I think 3 is a little too broad still. Many people choose behaviors that hurt others all the time. In fact, I'm not sure if it's possible to live without hurting others. For one example: someone who lost her job because the factory moved to Mexico in order to hire cheaper labor (btw, I'm not picking on our southern neighbor, just making an example!) may feel that anyone who purchases goods made outside the USA is hurting her and her family, who depended on her salary. Is that really evil?

Think of the debate regarding low-paid child laborers. On the one hand, they are poorly paid children working horrendous hours in horrendous conditions (by American standards, at least). On the other hand, they are making $ to support themselves and/or their families. Who am I hurting if I buy Nikes made in Cambodia? Who am I hurting if I don't? Which is evil? Is either?

It seems as if we need to define "hurt."

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Delirium Tremens
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I think it is dangerous to use the label 'evil' too lightly. I see evil and good as black and white. Most people or most acts can be seen as shades of grey. Murdering somebody is more evil than stealing candy in the supermarket. And what if I steal candy because I haven't money?

Moreover, good and evil can be relative in time or depending on the culture (e.g. the crusades).

However, I want to add here that certain acts are less relative than others. I can't e.g. imagine a time or a culture that approves raping and murdering children.

I would define a person commiting an evil act as an act that is commited:
- With the intention to hurt others
- With the sole purpose for the person who commits the act to receive a feeling of "lust" or "satisfaction" when he knows the damage is done

By this definition: stealing candy in the supermarket is evil for the rich one, not for the poor one.

An evil person is a person who commits a lot of evil acts. But since all persons sometimes do good acts as well, it is very dangerous to use that label.

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Delirium Tremens
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quote:
For one example: someone who lost her job because the factory moved to Mexico in order to hire cheaper labor (btw, I'm not picking on our southern neighbor, just making an example!) may feel that anyone who purchases goods made outside the USA is hurting her and her family, who depended on her salary. Is that really evil?
So, according to my attempted definition the answer would be:
- If the director moves the company because to likes to fire those "fat, lazy and overpaid Americans": the act is evil
- If the director does not move the company because he hates those "dirty Mexicans": the act is evil
- If he moves because he wants to increase his profits: the act is not evil.

For me the key element is having a feeling of satisfaction in hurting somebody.

"Hurting" is also relative: a Muslim will probably be more hurt being called "a swine" than an atheist. Therefore: calling a Muslim or a Jew a swine is more evil than doing this to an atheist. The key element again is that you know the other person feels "damaged".

I once offered a sandwich with ham to a Muslim. Because I didn't really thought about the fact that Muslims don't eat ham, there wasn't a problem (the guy just explained the situation to me). My act was not evil. If I would have done the same thing a second time 15 minutes later, it would have been evil.

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JoshuaD
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Delirium: Evil also has a certain level of extremity associated with it. I don't think offering a ham sandwich to a muslm can be considered evil, just insensitive.
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Delirium Tremens
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Sure, but evil can start small and innocent and go out of hand. Ok, in my example, evil doesn't start with doing this once or twice.

If you do it once, it's insensitive. If you do it a couple of times, it's a bad joke. But if you do it time and again, the person can get feel really hurt. Sexual herrassment or stalking are other examples here.
The evil here is not in a single act, it's in repeatedly pressing the pain-point of the other.

Again here - a feeling of pleasure because you know the other person is hurt. The example of the factory being move is really a good one. If you say that the director is evil, you suggest that he was motivated by the lust of hurting.

Now, I also realize why it is so dangerous to say "person X is evil", because you suggest that that person really takes pleasure in hurting others. You are unlikely to know what's going on the director's head, so its better not to make the worst assumptions on this.

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ATW
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While looking at the intent of actions is all fine, dandy, and occassionally useful, I think that looking at the results of someone's actions is crucial to determining if he is evil or good.

In theory someone could be oblivious to the results of an action or two. However, if someone continually ignores the results of their own actions, that a choice and they are responsible for that choice and the others they make.

Some of the greatest evils of all time have come from people who thought they were doing the right thing. If you start letting people off the hook for the results of their actions based on their intentions, then you can justify any atrocity from Hitler killing jews to Stalin collectivizing agriculture to Mao's Cultural Revolution.

(edit: for those who aren't aware, the slam at Stalin and Mao has nothing to do with their communism but rather each of those actions racking up body counts in the millions)

Heck, Jack the Ripper probablely thought he was doing society a favor by thinning out the prostitutes and I'm sure the Templars in the Crusades thought killing off non-combatant muslim parents and selling their kids into slavery was pretty nifty. But any "goodness" contained in their intentions doesn't shield them from being evil.

[ September 29, 2004, 09:14 AM: Message edited by: ATW ]

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Delirium Tremens
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quote:
While looking at the intent of actions is all fine, dandy, and occassionally useful, I think that looking at the results of someone's actions is crucial to determining if he is evil or good.

While I feel you have a point, I think there's a huge problem by only considering the results - especially for political leaders: it is very easy to judge afterwards but nearly impossible to judge at the moment itself. Is Bush's war in Iraq good or evil? The real results will probably only be clear in a year or ten. Is the wall that Sharon is building, good or evil? Will it succeed in protecting the Israelis or would it attract more attacks? These are difficult questions, and I think the 'good' and 'evil' labels are just too simple as a judgement.
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Mr Xin Ku
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Lots of interesting comments. Tez, I was kind of joking to make a point, but I realize I came off smug and condesending. I meant it more good-natured than it came across (or maybe I'm just evil [Smile] ).

I'll try to find some time this afternoon to post my specific thoughts about your post and the other posts.

Mike

edited to add: all I edited last time was putting in your entire alias instead of just "T". I remembered today that people respond to you using Tez.

[ September 29, 2004, 11:17 AM: Message edited by: Mr Xin Ku ]

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Politius
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I beleive that some time ago, during the spring, i posted a similar question: "What is a Hero?" and how a hero can be defined as a good and a bad character. Here's how it ended up: 'evil' and 'good' are really the same thing. Now, i know people are going to pound me about arguing for symantics but do this: picture good and evil as two sides of a wall. Although you walk farther and farther away from the two sides of the wall with a 'good' deed, there is always another side to that deed. So, in fact, the farther away you walk, the closer you actually ARE to the wall. Basically, the 'better' the deed is also the 'better' the evil.

[ September 29, 2004, 12:07 PM: Message edited by: Politius ]

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Politius
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Also, i'd like to ask Xin: What criteria are you looking for to determine if someone is GOOD or EVIL. For me, it's a unconscious, deeply rooted-in-society thing. Anyone read Carl Jung? That's what i'm talking about.
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JoshuaD
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quote:
Originally posted by Politius:
I beleive that some time ago, during the spring, i posted a similar question: "What is a Hero?" and how a hero can be defined as a good and a bad character. Here's how it ended up: 'evil' and 'good' are really the same thing. Now, i know people are going to pound me about arguing for symantics but do this: picture good and evil as two sides of a wall. Although you walk farther and farther away from the two sides of the wall with a 'good' deed, there is always another side to that deed. So, in fact, the farther away you walk, the closer you actually ARE to the wall. Basically, the 'better' the deed is also the 'better' the evil.

So Hitler and Gandhi are hanging out in Heaven/Hell together?
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Politius
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Ok. I'll tell you this and again, i'll get hammered for it. I heard this from a LOT of history teachers and philosophy teachers: "Hitler was a great man. He did horrible things, but he was a great man." Similarly, Hitler was also a horrible man. His actions were GREAT for Germany and HORRIBLE for the Jews and the rest of the World. Ghandi can be viewed similarly. Although the world view of him was one of great respect and love, if Hitler were welcomed as much as Mohandas Ghandi, we would all think of him the same way today. Chew on that for a little while.
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D Pace
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I begin to posit that the terms of good and evil only have any significance within a worldview which accepts external definitions of "good" and "evil." For instance, my worldview (and I presume that of those who would bother to speak of a battle between good and evil), certain acts are undeniably "evil"-- Whatever the justification, I posit rational independepent observers could call lining up all children whose mothers are dark-haired and killing them would be "evil," and whatever ends resulting from that would be a work of evil. Someone who commits a genocide could be "great," powerful, view himself as doing what's necessary, but wouldn't change himself from "evil."

Now what of dropping atomic bombs on civilian cities? hmm... I give myself pause.

But the terms are meaningless outside a worldview which accepts the truth of the concept of the blackness of a soul, or the purity of a heart.

I posit that within that worldview, certain acts are identifiably evil, and anyone who intentionally engages in those acts is evil. People who become unintentionally involved, who with objectivity would recoil in horror at what they've done, may be termed "acting in the service of evil," while not necessarily being "evil." Hitler, knowing and intending to murder an entire people, for whatever justification, may have viewed himself as good, but can be termed "evil."

Still we get to justifications--the jews were not threatening his country, every single one of them (and definitely the ones in Warsaw were not, once taken prisoner).

Which leads to the thread of - Is Ender evil? An interesting question, the subject of books, with a justification of actual genocidal self-defense. There has to be an external judge- If the jews Really Were all out to kill Hitler and Germany, then stopping them was a self-defense (but still we can call murdering defenseless prisoners evil, no matter the cause). We can call it not "evil" for innocents to be accidentally killed in the actual context of war--or maybe we can, which would be subject of further discussion.

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Richard Dey
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Why discuss evil when naughtiness is so prevalent in our decadent society today?

Why couldn't we interview Hitler's last confessor (the one who was called to the Bunker), the priest who forgave Hitler any sins he might have had; then perhaps we could have determined if he was really "evil" or not.

It was not the Jews who tried to kill Hitler but the Fags; they were called Röhm's Avengers, and indeed the Fags were plotting to overthrow him in the summer of 1934.

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javelin
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Honestly, I don't believe that any human being is evil. As mentioned by another earlier in this thread, I believe that people do evil things (everyone) - some more than others. But doing evil things doesn't somehow make someone evil. I actually don't believe that evil is a term that can be applied to a person, just actions. I could bend that to say that people can have evil intentions or thoughts, but really, how do we know whether that is the case, outside of ourselves?
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Grendel
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quote:
Why, their alignment, silly.
I actually liked the direction that Zyne was headed, even if it was phrased as a joke.

I have long viewed "good and evil" as a two-axis continuum (yes, I was a role-player and borrowed that idea). Along one axis you have Good, Neutral and Evil and along the other axis you have Lawful, Neutral and Chaotic.

I don't have time to dig out my D&D books right now for their definitions, but this system always resonated with me as being "more correct" that the single-axis polar system of "Good vs Evil". And D&D's system allowed for simple judgement of actions and people (based on their observed actions and their intended results). As delerium pointed out, INTENT is critically important in determining the character of a person/action.

[ September 29, 2004, 07:54 PM: Message edited by: Grendel ]

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WarrsawPact
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Categorizing things this simply without proof of an objective standard is serious amateur-philosophy-circle stuff.

When this kind of argument comes up it always reminds me of a scene from a movie I like, "Donnie Darko."

quote:
Kitty Farmer: As you can see, the Life Line is divided into two polar extremes. Fear and love. Fear is in the negative energy spectrum. And love is in the positive energy spectrum.

Sean Smith: <Muttered> No duh….

Kitty Farmer: Excuse me? “No duh…” is a product of fear. Now, on each card is a character dilemma which applies to the Life Line.

Kitty Farmer: Please… take this…

<Kitty tries to hand a card to Seth Devlin who refuses to take it>

Kitty Farmer: … Thank you. Please read each character dilemma aloud, and place an “X” on the Life Line in the appropriate place. Cherita?

<Cherita gets up, stands by the blackboard, and reads from the card>

Cherita Chen: Juanita has an important math test today. She’s known about the test for several weeks but has not studied. In order to keep from failing her class Juanita decides that she will cheat on the math test.

<Cherita marks an X next to Fear>

Kitty Farmer: Good, good. Very good. Mr. Darko.

<Donnie gets up, stands by the blackboard, and reads from the card>

Donnie Darko: Ling Ling finds a wallet on the ground filled with money. She takes the wallet to the address on the driver’s license but keeps the money inside the wallet. <Scoffs> I-I’m sorry Mrs. Farmer. I don’t get this.

Kitty Farmer: Just place an X on the Life Line in the appropriate place.

Donnie Darko: No, I mean I know what to do, I just don’t get this. You can’t just lump things into two categories. Things aren’t that simple.

Kitty Farmer: The Life Line is divided that way.

Donnie Darko: Life isn’t that simple. I mean who cares if Ling Ling returns the wallet and keeps the money? It has nothing to do with either fear or love.

Kitty Farmer: Fear and love are the deepest of human emotions.

Donnie Darko: Okay. But you’re not listening to me. There are other things that need to be taken into account. Like the whole spectrum of human emotion. You can’t just lump everything into these two categories and then just deny everything else.

Kitty Farmer: If you don’t complete the assignment you’ll get a zero for the day.


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Everard
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"Categorizing things this simply without proof of an objective standard is serious amateur-philosophy-circle stuff."


Huge quantities of professional philosophy is devoted to categorization, and explanation of why the categories are chosen, without EVER looking for an objective standard.

Unless I'm seriously misunderstanding what you're trying to say, I think you're making a statement that doesn't fit reality.

[ September 29, 2004, 08:38 PM: Message edited by: Everard ]

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WarrsawPact
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What? Ev...

I'm not "looking for an objective standard." I never said I was.

All the same, it's stupid to ask people to categorize things that by their nature cannot be measured or labelled. Philosophers who try to just make up categories as they go along are doing no one any favors. They should start every sentence with "I think..."

My statement asks for a reflection of reality, not somebody's musings. Anybody can say they think the universe is neatly split into a Dungeons and Dragons alignment system, but it's totally impractical and arbitrary.

It's about as useful as astrology.

"Well, I *used to* be lawful good, but lately events have started changing my mind, and this morning I woke up neutral good. If this keeps up I may someday wake up with a chaotic good or true neutral alignment, where I'll be neatly lined up with all other characters of the same alignment."

This is the problem others ran into in my Honors Ethics class... I was pretty loud in that class. I never saw so much agreement in that class as when I did a presentation on determinism. It derailed the remainder of the semester. True quote: "It just makes so much sense!"

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