Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Good vs Bad

  1. Aug 4, 2006 #1
    There is this saying that if you step in a pile of poo, it's for luck.

    At first this sounds funny and contradictory. But I have noticed that for every negative things in my life will turn to positive ones in same proportions. At large scales and at small scales. Like there is an equal and oppositve reaction.

    Now, postive and negative is relative. So it makes sense there are extremes at both ends. So this curve keeps fluctuating up and down between these ends.

    Ideally, one would strive to keep the curve up, but no matter what you do, forces that you can't control will bring your curve down. These forces may seem supernatural, voodo, but I'm wondering about a different theory, a chaos theory.

    That for every dynamical system, there is an inherent anomaly that will unfold itself as time goes on. Once it reaches a critical state, the system will collapse itself into random order. Now this positve thing I was talking about, is usually associated with some kind of order. So entropy might play an important role here. The dynamical system can be anything from a chemical reaction, to yourself driving down the street.

    Feel free to comment on my little analysis here.

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 4, 2006 #2
    Not to be too personal, but are you saying that for the negative event of the sudden deaths of both parents, you would find an equal an opposite positive event somewhere in your future life ? What exactly would such a positive event be called ? Also, I hold that the good does not require the bad, but the bad does require the good, thus the effort should be to eliminate the bad from the system to reach the state of pure good, the state of pure random order--here is one such mathematical example where this can be achieved:http://metafysica.nl/boolean.html
  4. Aug 13, 2006 #3
    This sounds like Karma to me, you do good things and good things happen to you, I don't believe in systems like this and in my opinion we are already on a state of random order.
  5. Aug 13, 2006 #4
    Positive and negative in the context of this discussion are relative and subjective terms which reflect a predisposition to "wanting things" to happen in a certain way. The positives and negatives that are referred to here are not inherent things in nature - they are attitudes created by our biased perspective on nature. The key to overcoming this is in understanding that they are simply subjective attitudes, created by our own wishes and wants and desires.

    With the right attitude to life most of these positives and negatives can be seen for what they are - artefacts created by one' s own wishes.

    Best Regards
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2006
  6. Aug 13, 2006 #5


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    good vs bad = comfortable vs. uncomfortable

    there is no absolute, universal good and bad, but their or social trends as to what makes a lot of people uncomfortable, and that is what we consider bad.

    It's not clear and cut though. With things like murder and assault, it's easy to say "yeah, let's not have that, I can understand why no one wants to get murdered... hell! I don't!"

    But with something like cencorship, it's not so unanimous. Some people would argue that cencorship is bad while others would argue that it's good.

    All it really boils down to is, how many people are made uncomfortable by the action.
  7. Aug 14, 2006 #6
    What happens in nature is imo very random in that there is no such karma system.
    What I think is important is to realize that nothing is connected, in a magical way like this. If my wife is killed on one day, and my father the next, then a week later I become a millionaire, then these events have no inherent connection in nature, unless my father poisoned my wife or something.

    You must only see it in terms of logical, realistic connections > cause and effect.

    Also as MF said usually the connections that are made in nature between things are made in the mind; there is no physical "karma force."

    Also you mention entropy.. Entropy in nature is usually associated with the fact that time always goes forward.
    That is, if I break a glass, then that glass will forever be broken, you can never reach the perfect glass as it was before, it will never be the same glass because time can't be turned backwards.

    As a result, that means entropy gets higher in the universe every day, because all the things that used to be will at one point get destroyed or altered into something else.

    But there is no anomaly as far as I can tell that stops the system.
  8. Aug 14, 2006 #7


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    If I may add a rational hypothesis:

    Events don't add linearly, there is a diminishing effect.

    Let's put some numbers on this just to help clarify. Bear with me.

    Neutral is 5, Nirvana is 10, suicidal is 0.
    A good thing happening is +2, a bad thing -2.

    You wake up neutral (5)
    Randomly, a good thing happens (+2=) 7
    A bad thing happens (-2=) 5

    Ok now, watch this:
    A good thing happens (+2) 7
    Another good thing happens (+2) 8.5
    Another good thing happens (+2) 9
    A bad thing happens (-2) 7

    See, two good things happening to you doesn't make you twice as happy. (If it did, three good things in a row would put you at 11, which would frighten children and make old ladies cross themselves) So, each extra good thing has a diminishing effect, asymtotically approaching the limit. Then, when a bad thing happens, it is more effective at bringing you back to middle.

    Basically, your mood can be seen as a gully with sides that curve upward. The more you deviate from the centreline, the harder it gets to deviate further. However, it does not get harder to return to the centre, so all actions conspire to bring you back to centre.

    Note that this proposal neatly explains the phenomenon you describe experiencing, yet requires no metaphysical players. In fact, it nicely matches what we already know about stimulus and response in human behaviour.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2006
  9. Aug 25, 2006 #8
    uh so basically what you're saying is that "true" happiness does not exist.... because according to your theory: to reach 10 - the number of good moments you experience must tend to infinity - however, we all know that infinity is an undefined number (or function) i.e. nothing is infinite - it does not exist!!!
  10. Aug 25, 2006 #9
    ...i must say though, i do like that theory - and it does seem a reasonable approach to model happiness...
  11. Aug 25, 2006 #10


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    Here is a rationalistic reason why SOMETIMES an experience perceived as bad at the time can turn out to be a boon. "We must grow or die" this is not just a slogan, but the result of our status as open dynamic systems far from equilibrium. Only while we are away from equilibrium can we grow and change. The other name for equilibrium is stasis, and it is a bad fix to get into.

    But often we have set up our lives so that repeated small neutral stimuli (from school, job, family, acquantances) keep us just a tad away from stasis, and it feels very comfy; but you can see there's a precipice called stasis and "soul-death" right behind you, if you trouble to notice. But as long as you're "fat, dumb, and happy" who cares to look?

    Then something terrible happens; you get dumped by a lover, double crossed by a friend, you flunk a test or even lose a job. And you are kicked away from the stasis ledge, you have to respond to the chagrin and that gets your attention on new things, and maybe changes your life into a new stream. And when you look back on it from long after, you may say to yourself, "Yes, the pain was unbelievable, but I was just spinning my wheels until it happened and I'm a bigger person than I was because of it."
  12. Aug 25, 2006 #11
    Unless you get raped and have serious psychological damage and basically shutdown as a human being and develop all types of psychosis. That's being pushed way to far from the ledge.

    I agree with LM741, I like that particular model as a basis for how good things affect our lives. And LM pure bliss at 10 I imagine would be extremely difficult to attain if not impossible. This model relates to other simple body models like body temperature and blood pressure and pH level, they all negatively feedback to bring you to the center. Too low, add more, too high, take more.
  13. Aug 25, 2006 #12
    well negative feedback is always a good thing in terms of stability (since we are modeling the body as a system)...but that doesnt sound nice in terms of human beings - we always want positive feedback from other systems (humans).. then agian - maybe negative feedback are negative thoughts and these thoughts are actually there to stabilize us...without them we would just be on exstacy!!however i am contadicting myself - coz i really beileve that negative thinking can never really contribute to anything constructive!!! wait a minute!!! a system will only apply negative feedback when it becomes unstable!!! when it is stable negative feedback is zero!!! conclusion: find some sort of stability in your life!! but that's boring...what is stable afterall??? perhaps stable is just the 'average' human being??? perhaps all the greatest minds never took any negative feedback and just kept on generating higher and higher outputs!!...until....the system crashes... i dunno...just another analogy...
  14. Aug 25, 2006 #13
    Well I don't nessisarily mean negative feedback as negative thinking or negative things, but when your "hapiness value" is high it's easy for it to go lower, and when it is low, it's easier to go higher. It's negative since you don't go higher when you're high and lower when you're low. If that was the case then some people would be in extacy and the others would be in utter misery.
  15. Aug 25, 2006 #14
    That is sound logic, and I believe it reflects the natural tendency of "systems" to return to equilibrium. But consider this:

    If I win $100M in a lottery, and do not blow it all away before the end of my days, then for a period of time I'll be ecstatic. Yet over time I will begin to be jaded about the freedom, the material things; whatever happens to appeal to my personal concept of "good".

    On the other hand, if I am unjustly accused of a foul crime, and imprisoned for the rest of my life in harsh conditions, I might hazard to say my "equilibrium" will never attain a "normal" state again.

    I am suggesting, therefore, that there is not a perfect balance mechanism here.

    But if not, why?
  16. Aug 26, 2006 #15
    If we really do believe in good and evil, and not just events that make us comfortable or uncomfortable, consider this. Perhaps it is in error to attribute the yinyang ratio to an individual life. Good and evil, theoretically, should determine all behavior as it exists ultimately from human social behavior to the relationships of particles.

    Though, my understanding is this. The concpet of good and evil is just the same as the concept of peace, a figment of ones mind. It is an individual experience. Unfortunately, a figment of ones mind may also include others to come to realization. I think that generally though, we all share a common understanding of what is good and what is evil. Perhaps its because of the ten commandments being written so long ago that now its contents are pretty much inherent, not needing to be learned, but simply understood at birth. Just a though, I could be wrong.
  17. Aug 27, 2006 #16

    I like Daves explanation but, I would consider one other factor. And that is we are probably dealing with a "neutral" that is on a sliding scale. In other words, if we experience considerably more of either "good" things or "bad" things, adaptation kicks in and what we consider normal would adjust up or down. The ability of our system to adapt (within obvious limits) will help explain why addicts must continue to increase their intake of whatever, in order to maintain some degree of pleasure. At the other end of the spectrum, one might experience a great loss such as vision or a limb but eventually adapt to the new conditions

Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: Good vs Bad
  1. Good and Bad Explained! (Replies: 24)

  2. Love: Good or Bad? (Replies: 24)