I'm doubtful of hearing about the concept of evil. I honestly don't know how to feel about the term. Mainly because I've come to realize that it sounds like you know right from wrong, good from bad, but you still choose the bad, the wrong. Logically, that makes no sense. If good is better than bad and you understand the differences why would anyone choose to be bad? It cannot be reasonable to go after something that will make you worse off, right? With that insight, I came to the conclusion that evil probably doesn't exist.
P.S. I'm not religious and would prefer avoiding religious talk because that is strictly blind faith without any logic or "cause and effect." So I would advise anyone who would be interested in talking about this topic to refrain from doing so and only use rational and logical thinking please. Thank you.
As evil is a defined concept, not universal, it absolutely exists. It is different for every person, but it DOES exist.
And people have made poor decisions as long as man has existed. From deciding to have a snort to driving 100 mph to consistently overeating, we all make bad decisions. Which, sometimes, includes participating in our own sense of evil.
What makes those examples evil, wilderness? We do make bad decisions but that's because we don't understand why they're bad.
That's my point. Being evil consists of being aware of the "good" as well as understanding it and avoiding it to be deliberately bad.
People consider being evil to be, challenging the "good" because the good won't triumph in comparison to the bad. What if people who commit bad deeds do not consider what they're doing bad, but helpful?
People also consider evil to be evildoers who are ignorant to the "right" path to take so they take a "different" path and is labeled as evil...
There can be "our own." It can only be objective. Then it does not make an answer correct or a solution, a solution.
To me, driving 100 mph on public roads is evil because it puts others at risk unnecessarily. The other two aren't evil, just stupid. Hurting yourself isn't evil, as far as I'm concerned.
I agree that ignorance denies that possibility of being evil. If you don't know it's wrong it isn't evil. And if the person truly believes their actions are good then they aren't evil. They may still be wrong, but they aren't evil. And even if the person knows it's wrong, an action may still not rise the point of being evil. Violating my diet isn't evil, just stupid.
But all of these are just my personal definitions; they are not universal by any means.
Driving is a perfect example to illustrate. Evil is made possible through free will. A free will is capable of behaving contrary to God's will, which is evil. We learn what is evil by living this life. This life is how God is teaching us evil and why rules are necessary. For eternal life to exist with free will, there must be an authority and there must be rules. Like driving laws. If we're alone on the road there's no need for rules. There's no one else on the roads. But because others are free to go where ever they want as well, there must be rules to maintain order. We have to live this life to experience why evil is destructive and why there must be rules. We must also live this life with free will so we can freely choose to adhere to God's requirements for us to participate in the afterlife. We have to acknowledge Him as the authority. Basically, we have to do what animals and the natural world does naturally. Like the road system, if everyone is free to go where ever they want, then rules are necessary to ensure we're not infringing on each other's wills. Like endangering other by driving fast and reckless. Just look at the commandments. They all have to do with respecting one another, not lying to one another, not coveting other people's stuff. It's about how to behave with one another since we have a free will and are capable of behaving contrary to God's will.
I'm not even going to interrupt this. If people are going to ignore what I asked, then, it's not even worth debating.
I'm sorry, I should have read the original post. Evil is rather simple really. It's actions that are usually selfish and hurtful to those around us. Taking more than we need, taking from others. Anything that infringes on the will of others around us. Taking for personal gain. Anything attributed to an individual's will that wants for selfish, or self serving, things. That is evil. Evil is destructive behavior in an environment of competing wills.
That's alright, HeadlyvonNoggin. What if an evildoer said the same thing? What if a good person was hurting them in some way? Good essentially competes against bad, no?
Competes is a good way to put it. I often think of it in the context of cells in the body. If each cell were capable of free will, capable of evil, would they behave in a way that's beneficial to them as individuals, or behave in ways that are beneficial to the body as a whole? Or ants. Do worker ants behave in a way that's beneficial to the hive? Or detrimental. Sin is detrimental to the system around us. The natural world and all of those in it. Behaving in harmony with the natural world around you, flowing with the stream, is good. Willfully defying the natural order and willfully wanting for personal acclaim or fortune is sin.
Since you insist on using religion (sin is a part of religion) then I shall argue against that point!
Sin implies you understand good from bad but still feel inclined to perform in evil ways.
"Willfully defying the natural order and willfully wanting for personal acclaim or fortune is sin."
What if that person who wants a fortune for selfish reasons doesn't understand why it's bad and therefore acts in that way because there's no immediate detriment to their life?
Can you say that person is sinning, can he ask for forgiveness when he doesn't understand why he's apologizing for?
Yes, I think so. Sin just means the capability of behaving contrary to God's will. God's will is in the service of the system as a whole. If an element of that starts behaving selfishly then it becomes a detriment to that system. Like if all the cells in your left hand decided they wanted to be a hand twice as large and purple. To do that they'd need to take additional resources away from the body to maintain their now twice as large hand. Taking from the rest for their own wills and wants. Like the garden of Eden, only one commandment even existed. Don't eat from that tree. No other rules existed, but murder was bad. Lying was bad. Adam was capable of behaving contrary to God's will. This would be the equivalent of behaving contrary to gravity and just floating up.
There wouldn't be Commandments or laws if we understood good from bad. Because God imposed a Commandment, He (God) understood that Adam does not know any better and must listen to The All-Knowing because he knows best. Adam, on the other hand, did not understand the rule, does that make Adam evil? He wanted to learn why eating the apple was wrong. Humans have this biological inclination to learn. We cannot stop learning whether it's conscious or unconscious. If learning to become wiser is evil then I don't know what you think "good" is.
Yes, true. Right, Adam wanted the wisdom of good and evil. He wanted to gain the knowledge that was to be gained by eating it. In other words he followed his own will rather than God's. He simply exercised his free will, which is what made him unique and significant to anything else God created. Creation depicts the entire natural world, animate or inanimate, becoming what God willed. Everything works according to God's will with the exception of humans. That's why commandments and judgement are necessary. Our being able to behave contrary to God's will is the equivalent of being able to behave contrary to natural law. It's unnatural. Like a cancer.
That's where it turns into subjective belief.
You don't know the person's intention by driving 100mph. You don't understand their skill at driving. There are many other factors to determine whether what they're doing is detrimental or helpful. Right now, according to society, it's a detriment to drive that fast mainly because nobody believes in the driving of others. So it's safer to say it's "dangerous" or "evil" to drive at that speed.
I do not usually comment in matters regarding religion.. to each his own.
But if you consider evil a "defined concept, not universal" and agree that it "absolutely exists",
what about God as a defined concept (not universal)?
What I meant, Rochelle, was that I didn't want the use of religion or God to explain evil. Nothing can be justified using religion or God.
God by logic cannot be a defined concept, then He does not exist. If I use you as a defined concept and not universal, then are you merely a thought?
Perhaps I am just a thought.
If you ask people to define God-- they may not all agree, as you said about "evil", but they do define.
What about "good"? Is that a defined concept?
BTW I do appreciate your hubs, though I will probably never attempt to repair anything electrical. If I do, I will check out your advice. .
I'm extremely flattered, Rochelle, thank you so much for the compliment!
OK, I will check yours also-- though I was replying to Wilderness (which I did not make clear. and perhaps replied in the wrong place.) I willcheck yours also,-- seems you two have much in common, believing in the invisible indisputable power and existence of electricity and its effects.
If evil must be a defined concept, then the opposite must exist as well.
People will attempt to define, they might be right or wrong, nobody really knows. Humans can only deduce any fallacies with more information and insight, I guess.
There's a flaw in that logic. Why do you say that choosing the bad will make you worse off?
Often, people choose the bad precisely because it will make them better off. For instance, they will steal goods instead of working to earn money to buy them. Or they will cheat at an exam instead of studying. Of course, there's a risk they will be caught but it may be a small risk.
Well exactly, that depends what is considered "bad." I agree with you, Marisa. I mean, I say "choosing the bad" because that person understands it's worse for them, therefore, there's no logical reason to choose that side than the "good" side.
There's no flaw in that logic unless someone doesn't understand what makes something "bad" and "good" and makes the choice to pick the bad.
For example, slitting your arm. You have an understanding why it might be wrong, but you don't choose to do it, when you know you'll potentially be worse off?
That's just my analogy.
I've just read that three times and still don't understand what you're getting at. I think you are conflating the two meanings of "bad", which can mean two very different things.
If I slit my arm, I don't have to wonder whether it's good or "bad" (meaning evil). I will know it feels "bad", meaning unpleasant, when I feel the pain, or die. But those are things that are worse for ME, therefore evil doesn't enter into it. If I am harming or helping myself with no reference to other people good or evil is irrelevant. Good or bad is only relevant where your actions affect other people.
That's exactly my point, Marisa! Because you define evil subjectively, doesn't make the answer true for everyone. How can anyone live by a definition if it's different for everyone else? Like I previously mentioned, how can you be ignorant to understanding good and evil and still choose to be evil? You can't. If you don't understand what the objective answer to evil is, you can't put a determinant on what makes anything good or evil. That's why, I say, evil does not exist. People make up evil so that other conform to live a specific way.
Well there's your answer right there. What is bad is whatever we "feel" is bad. It is subjective. Yet each one of us inherently knows when we've done wrong. We have a will that is free from any kind of natural law. Our behavior is not dictated in any kind of way. So there's no law to designate this thing good and this thing bad. It's all about how we "feel".
We all know when we've done right or wrong, but everyone's version of what's right and wrong is different.
But feeling comes after thinking, HeadlyvonNoggin. You cannot feel something without thinking about it first. Thinking about something means that you've given effort to understand it to the best of your capabilities.
We can only believe we've done something wrong once we understand that what we did inflicts more negative consequences than positive ones. Even at that, if it isn't objective consequences, then it doesn't exist. Like you said, it's only subjective. But I feel better believing it never existed since there isn't enough to prove the objective existence of evil rather than to simply call it subjective.
But it most certainly exists. There may not be a tangible line, but what we do is most certainly really happening. But I think you're onto something about us being ignorant of where exactly that line is. In fact, I think that's a very relevant reason for why we're here. This life we're living, the life experiences of every human living on this planet, is just the kind of knowledge base one would need to give someone wisdom. I think this life is God's method of giving us the wisdom needed to wield our own wills. Our ability to behave of our own wills makes us unique in all the universe. The fact that what's 'evil' can only really be ascertained through logical thought I think is telling. We're not governed by any sort of laws like the rest of the natural world. We're capable of anything and everything. Evil or not. In fact, we're kind of left to figure that out ourselves.
Rules were meant to be broken, and I don't mean that as a cliche. I literally and philosophically mean that. Rules and laws wouldn't be put if governments knew what they were being lawful about was objectively correct. They'd wouldn't need to tell others, "if this happens this will happen to you." You know why, of course you do, ignorance ! They're assuming they know what's best for us, to keep us in a civilized manner. That's false, they don't know themselves. They're looking for a better answer than the ones they already have. I know I'm going a little of topic, but since you brought it up, I felt compelled to speak about it.
"It is pointless for a man to pray to the gods for that which he has the power to obtain by himself."
Very true. You're exactly right. That's a question that's been at the very center of civilization since the beginning. Currently our answer is by committee. Somehow designate a group deemed qualified to determine what laws should be. Individuals have proven problematic. It's a bit too much to put every little thing to democratic vote. So that's where we are. In between two extremes.
And yes, a rule is a rule because it's being broken, otherwise it wouldn't require a rule. If breaking rules were impossible then judgement and commandments would be useless. It is the capability to act these ways that warrants laws and punishment.
Yes, I concur ! If people understand why something is good or bad, wrong or right then rules wouldn't have to be implemented because nobody would ever do wrong or bad ! In the objective sense...
Yes, exactly! See that's what I think the purpose to life is. If you were a God and wanted to create other beings around you that had their own minds and ideas, you could teach them or make it so they know just about anything. But how would you teach them good/bad? It's wisdom. It's not something that can just be explained. It has to be earned. So I think that's the point of life. To live and experience all the best and worst of having a free will. The entirety of human existence is just the kind of knowledge base you would need if you ever hoped to engender someone with the wisdom of free will.
I think it's important to define terms. Can we agree that evil is wrong action for the sake of wrong action. You don't do it for any other reason other than the fact that it's bad.
Bad can be defined as committing a wrong action but due to incorrect reasoning or misguided intentions. This way if someone hurts themselves or another person through improper reasoning, we say they didn't something bad but not evil.
Does evil exist? Well, do people do things for the sake of being bad? Yes, there are those people. It's generally irrational, meaning those people are mentally ill. They do these evil things even when it's bad for them and everyone else. Do people do bad things? All the time, we're human.
You say that we shouldn't be subjective in our definition. That's a tough thing to do since we're talking about human relations. If you can accept the definition above, I think we can continue.
Just like your defined definition is inaccurate, would you agree then that love is just when two people like each other ?
Irrationality or mental illness isn't proof of evil. Let's take extremists for example. They're doing it for a "good" cause because their philosophy is to create harmony by everyone abiding and assimilated by what they believe the Islamic laws should be. You can consider that "good" or not, but on the surface, people mainly consider it evil because of what's happening.
We need a factual philosophy before even living up to that philosophy using other ones.
You asking me to accept that definition is asking me to make that definition objective. You're making the implication that it's the best answer to live by for evil. How can I accept that? Making anything objective is extremely difficult, I agree. I just don't believe it's impossible. We are dealing with human relations, but that shouldn't stop anyone trying to find the "right" answer for everyone to live by.
I would say that love is a specific neurochemical concoction and spiking brain frequencies that could be simulated by other systems.
By my definition of evil, the things extremists are doing are not evil because they have the intention of doing good. That's misguided. Irrationality and mental illness which cause doing bad for bad's sake and no other reason would be an example of my definition.
Maybe it's not the best definition, but we should check if it works. If there's an area where it doesn't work, we can scrap it or modify it to have a better definition. With this being said, do you think you've shown a counter example with your extremists? Do you think I gave a decent rebuttal? How can we manipulate this definition?
Well the information I had previously mentioned, explicitly states that you cannot be evil unless you are aware of the differences between good and bad but still choose to be evil.
If bad is worse than good and you're aware that good is better for you, you wouldn't be bad. It's impossible to be "more ignorant" than what you previously were. We're always learning no matter what. Therefore, being evil is an impossible status.
Evil according to society is them "knowing" better and make the comparison between their lives and another's and making presumptions that what they're doing is better off implying that another person's life is worse off, depending on their differences. That's how society defines evil. That's subjective. You gave a typical rebuttal because you're going on about evil according to society's standards. Just because my argument against society's is more difficult to achieve (if not impossible) why can't people accept that there's no existence with the term evil?
I think I agree with you there. To be evil, one would need to know the difference between good and bad, yet still choose evil.
"If bad is worse than good and you're aware that good is better for you, you wouldn't be bad." This goes back to an old argument that the ancient Greek philosopher once posed. However, in modern time, why don't we ask, why do people smoke? It's bad for everyone else, it's bad for them, is that irrational? I think we would say that it is. However, I think we want to assume that these people are just misguided. What they're going for is the feeling that smoking provides, which feels good. Isn't what they're doing bad, but not evil?
Similarly, as I've defined evil to be, an evil person would smoke because it is bad for them (suicidal and harmful) and to hurt other people. How many people have you met like this? This kind of behavior is extremely odd, and we would label this person as mentally ill.
"It's impossible to be "more ignorant" than what you previously were." That's false. Brain damage, senility, and drugs are just a few examples, also lack of sleep.
To be honest, I don't really buy into any of these views, but I think this is the typical response. To really argue this, we need to define bad and good more carefully. Society's opinion on anything is almost always rubbish, so I'm not appealing to that.
Just because something is subjective, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. The definition of life is subjective, do you want to say that living things don't exist?
Well PhilosopherPrince, to smokers, regardless that it is suicidal, to them, and I emphasize them, if the good outweighs the bad, they'll blindly continue to smoke. They need to understand EVERY reason why it's good and every reason why it's bad. Once that happens, they'll realize they're worse off and will stop.
You can't hurt others, people choose to be hurt themselves. Even physical pain is a choice. If smokers who deliberately cause second-hand smoke and they don't mind, then they don't understand and don't think they are "killing" someone else in the process. How is that evil if they don't know? Feelings aside, it isn't. It's painful to witness, yes, but there's no self-doubt in the smoker's mind because they'd stop doing what was a detriment to themselves and to others if they TRULY believed that it was.
I have to agree on that technicality. But for the general public, who don't experience that, you can't become more ignorant. I'm referring to your unconscious retention capabilities as well your conscious retention. Every day that you're living, every second that passes by, you're gaining more knowledge you aren't (or are) thinking about.
I'm glad you don't agree on society's views. Some of them are helpful, but as we grow older, we gain more insight to be oppressed to being fearful to want to learn and conform only to society's ways!
Just like a contradiction cannot exist;we're just able to define it, subjectivity does not exist. It's just an idea. Perfection is an idea but does not exist. Two Gods does not exist either, because it is an idea (and a contradiction) and a subjective idea at that. The definition of life is not subjective. We just haven't figured out the universal way of living life the best way. Will we ever? Who knows? I don't think I'm relying on wishful thinking, nor am I delusional. It might take millions of years to figure out, I really don't know, I cannot determine something like that. So (for now) it's subjective. That's a sensitive person's answer.
Evil exists. The reason you don't think it exists is because you have chosen not to do evil things, in general. However, incest is evil, genocide is evil, brutality is evil. The list goes on and on. People who do evil are not concerned about critical thinking and "rational thought," unless they are using their minds to steal, coerce or murder without getting caught. Spend two weeks in an Iranian prison. You'll be convinced that evil exists after you get out, that is, if you get out.
People do evil things. "Evil" as a thing in and of itself does not exist though.
Well, it isn't like a tree that you can touch, but it exists nevertheless. Evil is life's opposite, as it has no life giving properties and it steals from that which already exists and which was made for man's edification. For example, sex was created for good, but evil perverts it.
However, you are not alone in believing that evil does not exist. I just don't happen to agree. That being said, if humans chose to do that which is good, evil would cease to exist. Evil simply feeds off of our negative energy, which we are all to happy to give it, and which, in turn, allows it to remain extant.
A spider wasp lays it's eggs inside a spider, where the larvae eats the spider from the inside out as it slowly dies. Is this evil? It is life, doing what life does.
Only an animal (such as a human) who can judge that something was done wrong knowingly, can call something "evil". Not everyone can agree on what is evil. Evil is just a value judgment.
Behaviors aren't tangible things, but do exist. They are real because they can be observed by others and because they have a real impact.
Those are what YOU consider evil, savvydating. How do I know they're bad, because you tell me they're bad, because society does not accept them? No. By having an objective understanding of what evil is.
Even allowing a discussion of religion, or metaphysics, would not help us to prove the existence of a universal "evil". Such a thing, like a universal "God", or a universal "Love", can neither be scientifically proven, or denied. Relativism teaches us that the human understanding of evil is subjective, and bound to the existential realities of the material world. As I have explained in my essay that explores the possibilities of Idealistic Relativism: personal, cultural, and universal distortions might continue to influence our capacity to "know" even if we could momentarily escape the human form, and then conduct our study from outside of this 3 dimensional universe.
A common cow, or a pig, teaches us that on a daily basis, Americans, and human kind the world over, conduct their evil business of butchering animals and consuming their flesh. Even when we understand evil simply from the limited perspective of a defined concept, we can still clearly see that from the perspective of these animals, the people who are eating them are not just "good Christian folk trying to get by". No,from the perspective of these animals, if they could possibly have such a conscious understanding, what the human race has done to them for millennia is beyond "bad", or even far beyond "very very bad " behavior. A murderous practice on such a grand scale could only be defined as evil by these unfortunate creatures. Yet, millions of families attend church every Sunday and then on the way home they stop at a local restaurant and publicly engage in the barbaric ritual of eating the remains of dead animals.
We cannot even say that a man who ultimately hurts himself physically, mentally, socially, or financially, in the most egregious fashion,has succumbed to his own evil, since this man may truly be a masochist. In this case, his apparent misfortune is actually his greatest pleasure. Do I believe that there is a universal evil? Absolutely! I have no doubt that evil exists outside of, and independent of the human form. I believe that evil is a natural law; just as gravity, or the natural law of anarchy. But this is a "knowing" and a belief that I cannot even explain to myself. The question of whether or not there is a universal evil simply brings us to another room full of mirrors, and I am certain it is a question that no man will ever be able to answer.
Evil does exist because then all of us cannot differentiate the right from wrong. Likewise, no law was made.
That's the thing, we can't differentiate. Laws wouldn't be needed if we REALLY UNDERSTOOD good and bad. Then what's the point of a consequence when we understand the consequences?
We'd only do good if we understand good is better to live by than evil. People aren't evil on purpose, they just understand what is evil and what isn't. That's why "evil" is committed. But what determines evil and good right now is beyond our understanding...
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