Good and Evil

  • #1
yourdadonapogostick
270
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?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Mental Gridlock
16
0
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!
 
  • #3
pippythemonk
2
0
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.
 
  • #4
DaveC426913
Gold Member
21,181
4,612
Well, for starters, G&E is an entirely man-made invention. That should give you a strong hint about how real they are.
 
  • #5
delton
27
0
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"
 
  • #6
lawtonfogle
160
0
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 anyone 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.
 
  • #7
Antiphon
1,683
3
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.
 
  • #8
DaveC426913
Gold Member
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Antiphon said:
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.
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.
 
  • #9
Smurf
396
3
And what about Animal Cruelty?
 
  • #10
Smurf
396
3
yourdadonapogostick said:
Do good and evil actually exist or are they just POV?
This is the first thing we should tackle. I'll start: You cannot pick up a piece of Evil and hang it on your wall, therefor it does not exist, because it is not tangible. Same with 'good'.
 
  • #11
Antiphon
1,683
3
Smurf said:
This is the first thing we should tackle. I'll start: You cannot pick up a piece of Evil and hang it on your wall, therefor it does not exist, because it is not tangible. Same with 'good'.

You can't pick up a "3" either. But it exists.

DaveC426913 said:
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.


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.

Smurf said:
And what about animal cruelty?

Delicate, but no. It is definitely immoral but not evil as evil has
been defined above by me.
 
Last edited:
  • #12
Smurf
396
3
Antiphon said:
You can't pick up a "3" either. But it exists.
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.

Delicate, but no. It is definitely immoral but not evil as evil has
been defined above by me.
You're making a distinction between evil and immorality here, can you explain what it is?
 
  • #13
outsider
24
0
And it's AAAAALL Good!
 
  • #14
luxv66
16
0
Smurf said:
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?

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.
 
  • #15
DaveC426913
Gold Member
21,181
4,612
"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".
 
  • #16
Serene_Chaos
15
0
How about Good and Evil don't exst, just...yeah our POV.
How about the line between them is so blurred that there is no definate distinction between the two.
 
  • #17
Apak
7
0
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.
 
  • #18
Serene_Chaos
15
0
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?
 
  • #19
selfAdjoint
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
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Serene_Chaos said:
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?

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.
 
  • #20
Apak
7
0
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.
 
  • #21
Slayer_69
1
0
evil-ution

what happens when we die? (spirtually) o:) :devil:
 
  • #22
Oduz
7
0
There is a high tought of good and evil. All comes from experiences in our lives. When you have seen the core of one side you know the other. Some uiniversal examples:
Good: order, calm, many ideas converging to one goal
Evil: disorder, chaos, many ideas without a goal
Everyone of us have inside good and evil, only we can decide which to follow. No matter of cultural or religion teachings.
 
  • #23
luxv66
16
0
Oduz said:
There is a high tought of good and evil. All comes from experiences in our lives. When you have seen the core of one side you know the other. Some uiniversal examples:
Good: order, calm, many ideas converging to one goal
Evil: disorder, chaos, many ideas without a goal
Everyone of us have inside good and evil, only we can decide which to follow. No matter of cultural or religion teachings.

All you've done is renamed good and evil as "calm" and "chaos" so it doesn't really answer the question. You're still going to have the burden of defining "calm" and "chaos" as you would with good and evil.
 
  • #24
luxv66
16
0
Not to mention that simple order vs. chaos is extremely lacking.

The Nazis were very ordered and precise when the executed 6 million +. That was also many ideas converging to one goal. By that definition, the Holocaust was good. By the same definition, the genocide in Rwanda was bad only in that is was disorderly. So would it have been good if they simply had a better plan? I doubt most sane people would agree.
 
  • #25
Oduz
7
0
The nacizs maybe were ordered, but you missed the origin of all. The nacizm begun with one failed man, who have diordered, chaotic ideas. The core of nacizm was anger, and misery. And all was transformed in madness. To which pole is all of this oriented? Maybe I missed something in my theory. We should look deply into things. Try to find the origin.

You compare very ordinated Germans to bare guerrilia in Rwanda. Germans are famous for being extremely brave soldiers. What is the primar function of a soldier? To follow orders. So they were well organized and ordinated.

On the other hand, if nacizs won the second world war. All of what they had done, today could be threated as good.

Excuse my English!
 
  • #26
luxv66
16
0
Just as a side note, the German army wasn't directly involved in the Holocaust. That was a higher-level affair but that's a history topic.

All I'm saying is that plenty of evil or bad things are very well ordered. I think history shows that in their perverse logic, the Nazis thought they were doing a good for the German people. We judge that logic as madness but in-itself it was ordered.

In a coldy logical sense, we should eliminate 60% of the Earth's surplus population because there's not enough resources to go around. Obvioulsy that's an evil idea but in a world divorced from absolutes it makes perfect sense.
 
  • #27
NewScientist
171
0
Numerous religions believe in an evil being or force - the devil for example in the Catholic religion. As most Western cultures are based on judea-christian ideals the idea of good and evil is highly prevelent being as the Torah and Christian Bible both have long and detailed references to the devil.

The effect of this religious idea on mainstream conciousness is vast, look at the 'light' and 'dark' side in the Star Wars series as an example of the ability a Western person has to accept and identify with this idea of good and evil. This in built psyche leads me to believe we have an inbuilt idea to right and wrong - a measure that constantly changes due to circumstances and is a result of nurture for 96% and nature 4%.

I involve nature as if you look at some psycotic criminals they have a common chemical inbalance in the brain and also the same abnormality in brain development - hardly definite proof but perhaps an insight into the possibilities nature plays.

As for nurture, it is clear that depending on the value + moral system an individual grows up with - it will shape his judgement on what is right and what is wrong. Also, events can alter this. For example, after the terrorist bombings of London - people in England were recorded to have changed their attitudes on the whether a war on terror was morally justified - baring in mind its consequences. Before bombing - 15 % believed it was, after the bombings this figure rose to 45%.

Anyway just my 2 cents
 
  • #28
waht
1,517
4
re

Knowledge equals power, and how you use that power defines whether you are good or evil.
 
  • #29
Temporarily Blah
24
0
But what uses make it "good", and what uses make it "evil"?


Good and evil is all subjective, and the majority rules on this.

Majority of people think: Killing is bad. Suicide is bad. Rape is bad.

People are only judged insane because they disagree with what the majority of the world says. Hallucinations are a good example, but moralities can be too. I remember, in the movie Sin City, there was a kid who ate people because it "brought him closer to God". He thought it was good, others thought it was bad, and he was classified as insane.

What if, in a strange way, we're all insane on some scale? If we all disagree about something, that'd be unsolvable.

Last notation: People cannot give reasoning for their beliefs, except for religion, which is still belief, or that it is human nature.

Human nature/instincts; Could that be the source of morality?
 
  • #30
Oduz
7
0
The problem is, how to say good is really good and bad is really bad. In my posts I have mentioned the higer tought, and I have mentoned some examples. The world we are living in teaches us about good and evil. Now can we just throw away all years of this teaching. It is impossible. What am I try to say, is that all about good and evil is only cultural and belief derivation. A whole thing is a mirror of the human nature, if all the world polulation say YES and I say NO, instantly I wil be threated as evil. Look to some examples in history, inventors and sientists. The circle is closing in good, evil and knowledge which means power...
 

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