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Good and Evil

  1. Jul 30, 2005 #1
    Do good and evil actually exist or are they just POV? Are there some things that are either good or evil no matter how you look at it? Are laws (in an uncorrupted system) based on good verses evil or what is best for the population as a whole? Do the "Bad guys" know they are the bad guys or are they only bad if they lose? In the latest SW flick, Darth Vader says "In my eyes, you are evil"; is that mental illness, brainwashing, or difference in POV?

    In short, are good and evil universal concepts, or are they just how you see the world?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 31, 2005 #2
    You're right, just point of view.

    If you're evil then you are the good guys, and the good guys are actually "evil". Like in WWII all the German soldiers would not have fought so hard and risked life and limb like that thinking they were the bad guys!
  4. Aug 1, 2005 #3
    Well said. The opposing side is generally seen as evil, and whoever rises above their enemies becomes the good guy just because they are more powerful and their ways are more understood, like with Native Americans and the white man. No one tries to be evil unless they're...you know, a goth kid with no friends.
  5. Aug 1, 2005 #4


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    Well, for starters, G&E is an entirely man-made invention. That should give you a strong hint about how real they are.
  6. Aug 1, 2005 #5
    Moral relatavism wins out on this issue.
    The problem is that we do not have any set definition for good or evil...
    for instance if the definition of good was "increasing the propagation of the human race" and evil was something that did the opposite, then it would be very clear that there is a difference. In like manor, most relegions will have a method to distinguish the two..
    BTW, George Lucas is a major supporter of moral relativism according to the magazine Plugged In . In SW3, for instace, Obi Wan says that "only sith deal with extremes"
  7. Aug 2, 2005 #6
    I think that somethings must be one way or the other. It is how it benefits you, in view with the whole. If good is just what benefits you, then it is only based on POV, but if it is how it benefits the whole, then it has some absolutes. What I mean by if good means to benefits you, is that if you kill any one who disagrees with you, and have the power to not get in trouble, then what you do is good in your POV, but bad to most others. But if good means to benefit what benefits everyone, then you actions are not good because in the end, the majority will be hurt.

    So in the end, is good what benefits a single person best, or benefits the group.
  8. Aug 2, 2005 #7
    I define Evil (operationally) as the wish to harm mankind either individually or collectively.

    If you accept this definition, not only does evil exist but it's all over the place.
  9. Aug 3, 2005 #8


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    Okay, but let's refine that.
    1a] Is merely a 'wish' evil, or does it require action?
    1b] What about harming one to save several?
    1c] Which brings us back to 1], because, while you can 'wish' to save both the individual AND the several, in reality, inaction will lead to more deaths. You must act.

    Now, is choosing to harm one, evil?

    2] Cops take deliberate action to harm individuals.

    Clearly, the definition rfequires more subtlety.
  10. Aug 3, 2005 #9
    And what about Animal Cruelty?
  11. Aug 3, 2005 #10
    This is the first thing we should tackle. I'll start: You cannot pick up a peice of Evil and hang it on your wall, therefor it does not exist, because it is not tangible. Same with 'good'.
  12. Aug 4, 2005 #11
    You cant pick up a "3" either. But it exists.

    The definiton doesn't require more subtlely. But the applications do.

    1a - You can have evil wishes and/or evil actions.
    1b - This is a tradoff between various degrees of evil. Further context must be given
    before detailed judgement is possible.
    1c - Saving one person in a flaming car but not two others is not evil-
    Unless you could have but didn't.

    2- Cops take deliberate action to PREVENT harm to others. They
    sometimes have to inflict (hopefully lesser) harm in the process.

    Delicate, but no. It is definately immoral but not evil as evil has
    been defined above by me.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2005
  13. Aug 7, 2005 #12
    No it doesn't. "3" is a noun used to represent an idea. Just because the idea of "3" is agreed upon by everyone in the world doesn't mean it 'exists'. It's still just an idea in our heads. "Evil" is not agreed upon by everyone in the world, and it still doesn't exist, so it is even more intangible.

    You're making a distinction between evil and immorality here, can you explain what it is?
  14. Aug 7, 2005 #13
    And it's AAAAALL Good!
  15. Aug 7, 2005 #14
    3 does exist. Yes "3" is just a noun to represent something but the threeness itself exists as a relationship between things. Relationships between things very well exist and aren't tangible. Subtract the human mind from the universe and a relationship between gravity and mass or whatever would still exist. If you deny that then science, math and logic become useless. That would include that logic that led you to the denial.
  16. Aug 8, 2005 #15


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    "Anger" and "red" can't be picked up either, yet they exist. They are simply intangibles, like Good and Evil.

    Smurf, I think it's a semantic point about your definition of what it means for something to "exist".
  17. Aug 11, 2005 #16
    How about Good and Evil dont exst, just.....yeah our POV.
    How about the line between them is so blurred that there is no definate distinction between the two.
  18. Aug 11, 2005 #17
    I classify all actions as being good. However, some actions appear as relative evil due to the lack of Good within the system. So evil appears relative to good due to lack of Good.
  19. Aug 12, 2005 #18
    Thats very interesting. I wonder could it also work in reverse, with all actions being evil, but appearing good relative to the more extreme evil around?
  20. Aug 12, 2005 #19


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    Ah, the "single fluid" theory of morality. No plus (or minus) here without a corresponding minus (or plus) elsewhere. Or the "unity and struggle of opposites" as Marx's dialectic expressed it.
  21. Aug 12, 2005 #20
    Yes, you could define all actions as evil, in that since Good is not actually present all actions which exist below it are intrinsically less Good or evil. I think everyone can see why I prefer evil relative good/Good instead of the whole system being evil due to lack of Good; either way its the same thing.
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