Good and evil

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  • #1
mikelus
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whats good and what's evil? what are the border lines of the two if any?
 

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  • #2
hamlet69
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a good time to do evil

i think this depends on what your view point is "like most things" , one person says "i'm doing good for the world by commint this act", but the act is evil to the person it is happening too.

i think this question can only be answered by the moral's of the person doing this evil or this good,

but then again "WHY" if there is a god does evil exist , an answer would be to show what good is.

thats about as far as i can go can anyone else go on?
 
  • #3
cassiopeiae
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Good and evil are only two opposite extremes of the same thing. The only boundaries lie in one's perception.
 
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  • #4
physicskid
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It depends on whether your action
brings any positve or negative outcome
to yourself and the others.
 
  • #5
Another God
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Good/Evil = Ethics = Value Theory Forum.
 
  • #6
physicskid
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There's one thing I would like to say.
Without good, we would not know what is bad,
and vice versa.
 
  • #7
Bernardo
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There must be a God

In order for evil or good to exsist there must be a God. I'll explain...

If all we have is ourselves to determine what is evil then can it really exsist? Let's say 50 years ago it was considered evil to eat pie. Anyone who did so was evil. Now time passes and pie is no longer evil - it's perfectly fine for you. If something can loose it's evilness - was it ever really evil?

God exsists separate from creation and His standards of evil do not change with time. What was evil - is still evil. What shifts to see evil as not being evil is simply identifing itself as agreeing with the evil and therefore evil itself.

The argument is the same for the good side of the coin.

So what do you think? Can there be evil or good without God. If so how?
 
  • #8
selfAdjoint
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This is certainly a popular position, dating from Nietzsche I suppose. Camus expressed it vividly. But I wonder.

I have been toying with the idea that morality is an emergent property of community. As such it cannot be "seen" by logic, a feature of the individual mind, any more than temperature can be "seen" by the colliding particles in a gas.

The idea becomes non trivial when we think of interacting with our own communities, and the fact that we may belong to more than one communitiy (church, state,class) with different moralities, and then that we as individuals and through us, our communities, can perceive and react to other communities.

I think I can get from this idea to the fact that we have come to believe that genocide is evil. Why it wasn't perceived before, and how it is reasonable for us in one community to care about the fate of others in an alien community.
 
  • #9
THANOS
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Good and Evil is a more complex form of the animal's sense of pain and pleasure. Thus we humans needed good and evil to stop our wild and violent disputes over simple things like territory and food. So good and evil as changed along with our ever changing society. Good and evil was created by us and still grows with us. So it makes sense to think that once it was evil to eat pie or chocolate.

It's just a simple mental invention created by us and used by most of us to make life easier like any other inventions purposes. To create something to make life easier.
 
  • #10
Another God
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my last exam is tomorrow. After that I will finally get my butt into gear and write my little excerpt (it will be like 3000 words probably) on what ethics are, and how good/bad are created. (from my point of view anyway. I mean, this paper will be my theory, entirely open to debate)
 
  • #11
Bernardo
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"I take what I desire, for I am THANOS"

I'm not taking a shot at anyone here Thanos, this is a thread on good and evil and I could not help but notice your signature and it got me thinking.

I believe something as well - evil does not start with "e" but with "I", while Good ends with "U".
 
  • #12
Another God
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yeah, like "I will kill you" and "I hate you" and so forth :wink:
 
  • #13
one_raven
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Originally posted by Bernardo
In order for evil or good to exsist there must be a God.
This viewpoint assumes that Good and Evil exist as absolutes.
If all we have is ourselves to determine what is evil then can it really exsist?
No.
That is the point.
Good and Evil do not exist within the confines of the context you are referring to "exist" in.
First of all, they are not two separate qualities, they are at either ends of a single scale.

Cause and effect:
Every event is a cause.
One of the many effects of that cause could be an emotional reaction within the observer(s) of said event.
Each of the other effects also has the potential to cause an emotional reaction in the observer(s).
Due to individuality of the observers and their past experiences that shaped who each of them are, their perspectives (therefore their emotional reactions) will widely vary.

Where one's reaction to the original cause-event falls on that scale is nothing more than that individual's personal perspective of their surroundings and what role that cause-event and each of its effects to plays in their surroundings.

The simple fact that the Bible says "Thou shall not kill" is not proof that killing is a universal Evil.
It is a simple everyday fact of nature in the animal kingdom.
Is a Lion Evil for eating a Zebra?
Of course not.
The fact that indescriminate killing is widely (almost universally) seen as a detriment to a productive society does not make it a universal Evil.
The Bible also says that you shouldn't have pre-marital sex, on my personal scale, pre-marital sex is right at the very end of the good side.

In order for Good and Evil to exist as absolutes (as opposed to abstract notions) they would have to be universally defined, which is simply not possible.
 
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  • #14
mikelus
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I believe something as well - evil does not start with "e" but with "I", while Good ends with "U". [/B][/QUOTE]

Please explain beter thanks
 
  • #15
one_raven
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Originally posted by mikelus
I believe something as well - evil does not start with "e" but with "I", while Good ends with "U".

Please explain beter thanks
I am pretty sure he meant...

Selfish = thoughts/intentions begin with "I" = Evil
Selfless = thoughts/intentions begin with "You" = Good
 
  • #16
THANOS
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Nothing selfless about helping someone. Every action one does ultimately does for oneself. Whether one does it for money or does it because it the right thing to do. You are doing it because in some sense it's for yourself. Money is more direct and to the point when actions are done to make it. But doing it because you know it's the right thing to do, but it doesn't help you with things that you are aware of, it still serves it's purpose by satisfying your mind by the regrets you'll get later for not helping. So call me selfish for helping or for not because in some sense we all are. It's all based on our values and some value mind over body, so when faced with a "selfless" act we tend to sway towards the minds want instead of the body (materialistic) wants.
 
  • #17
stressedout
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Good and evil are not ideas that can really be defined. What's good in one culture may be evil in another culture. Good and evil are primarily based on society and the way they deem actions and thoughts as being good or being evil. It is not one general idea, but rather ideas based on your perception of the world you live in. The border line between good and evil exists but is not clear. Good and evil tend to overlap each other so no real distinction can be made. Evil spelled backwards is the word live. We, as human beings have both good and evil inside of us. To live is to be both good and evil, whatever they may be.

Originally posted by THANOS
Nothing selfless about helping someone.

I have heard this before. It may be true, perhaps it is in our subconscious and we may or may not realize that in helping someone else we are in effect helping ourselves as well.
 
  • #18
Iacchus32
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Good is only good so long as it remains in context with truth. Whereas evil would have you believe just about anything to maintain what it wants.

Life is the "good" of which "truth" is the context which binds it together.
 
  • #19
Bernardo
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That's good I like it,

but I see a loop hole, what happens if your truth tells you that your boss is an idiot. Does that make keying his car or shooting his dog OK?
 
  • #20
Iacchus32
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Originally posted by Bernardo
That's good I like it,

but I see a loop hole, what happens if your truth tells you that your boss is an idiot. Does that make keying his car or shooting his dog OK?
Sounds to me like your boss is an egotistical maniac and would have you believe just about anything in order to get what he wants. I would have as little to do with him as possible, unless risk the possibility of becoming the very thing that I hate.

We all get angry, which suggests we all have the capacity to do evil, but it's what we do with this anger which, is typically brought on by some injustice -- initially -- that determines whether we ultimately do good or bad. Perhaps the worst thing we could do is let it build up and fester, as resentment, in which case we may never get rid of it.
 
  • #21
Bernardo
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No my boss in not referred to in the post - I was just asking in a very round about way - what is this truth you see that good rests on?
 
  • #22
Iacchus32
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Originally posted by Bernardo
No my boss in not referred to in the post - I was just asking in a very round about way - what is this truth you see that good rests on?
When we speak of the truth, we speak of the original design or intent. Therefore when we slander the truth, or lie, we hijack the good (take it out of context) and use it to serve some "ulterior motive."
 
  • #23
THANOS
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If you can't handle the truth i'll just tell you half of it.

We are good people.

there that's half of it.
 
  • #24
Iacchus32
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Originally posted by THANOS
If you can't handle the truth i'll just tell you half of it.

We are good people.

there that's half of it.
Why would we need the reassurance, if it weren't a lie?

Actually, I don't think people are capable of doing good, except to the extent that they can get their big fat egos out of the way, and only then can they allow the good to pass by "unharmed."

It's funny because I can see the evil in myself, even as I speak.
 
  • #25
selfAdjoint
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I am reading Hannah Arendt's old book On Revolution. I am up to chapter three, and it's a wonderful read, dense with intertwining ideas on every page.

Here's her take on Scocrates and Macchieveli on hypocrites.

Socrates has a problem with the idea that somebnody might commit a crime in secret "unknown to men or gods". This is because the gods of ancient Greece could not see into the human heart.

Socrates solves this problem by inventing the conscience. He says there is inside each of us a self that has purposes and does things, and also a self that observes what the first self does and judges it. So no crime can go unkown, at least the conscience of the perpretator sees it. Thus Socrates, according to Arendt.

Come now to Macchieveli. He is a Christian (yes he is!), and for him God sees into the human heart. The conscience is God's agent in this. So M. says, consider a hypocrite in public life - what we would call a politician. He is not really virtuous as he pretends to be. Is that bad? No, says M. for to pretend to be virtuous he has to visibly do good deeds, and they are a positive good for the community. Whereas his true nature, whatever it is, will not go unpunished, since God sees it. So, Macchieveli, according to Arendt.

She does all of this in the course of discussing Robespierre "the incorruptible" leader of the French Revolution who, after "stripping the mask off of French society" (the nobiity) and showing its corruption, became suspicious of everyone in his circle that they were secretly not what they pretended to be, friends of the Revolution, but really hypocrites planning to undermine it. So he had them all executed, in the famous Terror.
 
  • #26
THANOS
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If you can't handle the truth i'll just tell you half of it.

We are evil people.

there that's half of it.
 
  • #27
Iacchus32
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Originally posted by selfAdjoint
She does all of this in the course of discussing Robespierre "the incorruptible" leader of the French Revolution who, after "stripping the mask off of French society" (the nobiity) and showing its corruption, became suspicious of everyone in his circle that they were secretly not what they pretended to be, friends of the Revolution, but really hypocrites planning to undermine it. So he had them all executed, in the famous Terror.
And what a bloody awful mess the French Revolution was! Something no doubt got misconstrued somewhere!
 
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  • #28
selfAdjoint
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Basically she says the reason the French revolution went the way it did, compared to the American one, is the discovery of les malheureuses, the wretched of the earth. Once their interests and demands were brought into the question, once Rousseau's sentimental identification of the poor with the pure in heart, then the logic of necessity took over and the players were unable to manage the streaming tide. The people could not be seen as individuals, only as a mass. This was an entirely new thing in human history.

In America, on the other hand, the only malheureuses were the slaves, who were next to invisible to the founding fathers. So they could see the lower classes of white workers as individuals and did not find anything wrong with their essentially classical Greek and Roman models for government.

This, she said, is the reason the American Revolution did not become a model for the future, while the French one did. The American one took place in circustances that rendered it a very special case. No impoverished masses, bowed down by centuries of unjust oppression.
 
  • #29
Bernardo
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He is not really virtuous as he pretends to be. Is that bad? No, says M. for to pretend to be virtuous he has to visibly do good deeds, and they are a positive good for the community. Whereas his true nature, whatever it is, will not go unpunished, since God sees it. So, Macchieveli, according to Arendt.

I do have a bit of a problem with this idea. It is true that very selfish people can do works of good if only for the praise.

These good works will equal anything a truly good person would do. The difference in the heart will become obvious with time. I think this is the reason was have so many scandles in politics. People try so hard to live the visible good public life - they need to display honesty somewhere, and their private lives always tell the tale.

The truly good person is good when no one is watching. I believe this is the only sustainable good - true internal good.
 
  • #30
selfAdjoint
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Oh I agree, and perhaps Hannah Arendt would agree, although she might be skeptical that it could be sustained. But it's like geniuses and masters of the arts. If the world had to wait for saints in order to work, it would be a desert. As the founders of the US were perfectly clear, politics is made of real people, who have real faults.
 
  • #31
Bernardo
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If the world had to wait for saints in order to work, it would be a desert.

Very sad, but very true.

I'm not sure who said this but, "the only thing needed for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing."

and this happens far too much.

Here's a question - Is being 'politically correct' an excuse for moral weakness? I think it is.
 
  • #32
THANOS
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Ahh... but a truly good pretender will do good when no one watches incase of prying eyes.
 
  • #33
selfAdjoint
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Originally posted by Bernardo
If the world had to wait for saints in order to work, it would be a desert.

Very sad, but very true.

I'm not sure who said this but, "the only thing needed for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing."

and this happens far too much.

Here's a question - Is being 'politically correct' an excuse for moral weakness? I think it is.

I think it is an excuse for laxness, at least. If you feel so strongly about a social issue, why don't you roll up your sleeves and Do something about it? Instead of setting up silly rules and enjoying your priviledged position.

Getting back to Hannah Arendt again (one you start with her, you can't get away!) she carefully differentiates COMPASSION, PITY, and SOLIDARITY (her book was written before the Polish revolt). Compassion is indeed a passion; you see the injustice and can't help feeling it. It is essentially static, compassion for X today is the same as compassion for X tomorrow.

Pity is a sentiment. It is boundless, and malleable; we can meke it do what we want. And here's Hannah: it is PLEASANT! it is self satisfying, and therefore the pitier has a vested interest in maintaining the state which aroused pity. (when I read that I said to myself How cynical! How true!). PC belongs to the category of pity.

Solidarity is the only one of these which is both positive and effective. It doesn't go around making invidious distinctions, it unites people of different classes, sexes, nations, whatever. It is the real road to successful social change. Solidarity was those white kids getting beat up and murdered in Dixie for the sake of black votes.
 
  • #34
Bernardo
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selfAdjoint,

well said.
 
  • #35
mikelus
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defining evilness

any type of response or action that hurts you or others deals with a sense of evilness. Causing either physical or mental pain for you or others.
 
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