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Is evil primarily a product of mankind or nature?

  1. Aug 12, 2007 #1
    Is evil primarily a product of mankind or nature? It seems that mankind is unique in identifying, defining, and reciprocating evil. Evil, however, with its seeming connection to dying, disease and disaster, might be considered a natural outgrowth of suffering.

    Survival may depend in part upon the identification of "evil" as another being whose characteristics are perceived as vitally incompatible. Can that being be a twin as much as a far removed species? Is fear of the unknown a prerequisite to evil?
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  3. Aug 12, 2007 #2

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    The way I see it, before the rudimentary evolution of moral consciousness there was no "evil" -- only nature doing what it does. So it must be our fault, even if all we did was create the category and attach a label.
  4. Aug 12, 2007 #3

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    p.s. I'm stealing this thread and dragging it over to Philosophy.
  5. Aug 15, 2007 #4
    I think that "evil" is just a human term that we put to things that oppose our morality and definition of "good". As always, in nature there must be balance, and all systems tend to end in a state of balance. The same thing goes for "right" and "wrong", "black" and "white" and all opposing dualities. How can you define white as not as the opposit of black. However, nature does not have colours. The endity of colour is just a human preception - our sensor, the eye, perceives an object as black, red yellow etc. Good and evil are perceived by our moral "sensor" and nothing else. I don't believe that the actually exist in nature.
  6. Aug 15, 2007 #5
    And then we have the classical question: Is it good or evil for a man to steal bread from a store to feed hist starving children?

    In my opinion, 'Good' and 'Evil' are human created approximations.
  7. Aug 15, 2007 #6


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    "evil" is how we define something we don't like. In some cases, people may even play into the fear about the word, knowing full well someone isn't evil, but saying it is to turn masses against them.

    In the simplest case though, I think we just consider severe discomfort, when caused by another human being... to be "evil".

    "good" of course, follows as a human action that is pleasant to other humans.

    As your sample size of opinions increases, where 99/100 people think some named action is evil, it becomes accepted as, at the very least, 'wrong' to that society.

    Other things are not so clear... like maybe 50/100 people are discomforted by a certain human action, so there's debate over it. If 8/10 voters and power-holders believe it's wrong, then it becomes a law or a policy, regardless of what the other 50/100 people think.
  8. Aug 15, 2007 #7


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    Evil is pain suffering. Without pain and suffering, there would be no such thing as evil...
  9. Aug 16, 2007 #8
    So what should the judge say, I wonder. The same thing goes for killing someone. If you are from US, I believe that no DA would procesute someone that killed someone else in selfdefense. I am from Greece and there nothing like this in here. Recently we had a case that was shown on TV, where a sleeping old farmer, while at sleep, woke up to realise that he was being stolen by someone. When he used his shotgun to defend his property (by threatening the guy) the thief came on to him, and naturally he had to defend for his life. The DA procecuted him the next morning!:grumpy:

    So what should the old man do. Let the thief disarm him and probably kill him. Was what he did evil? He just defended his right to life, by refusing the other man's right for the same thing. Morality often contradicts the occasional law, and while laws are often and more easily converted, our moral values don't (or at least not so easily or often).

    If the man that stole the bread to feed his family, also killed the baker? What would then be the case? The same man, two different cases. And what if he killed the baker, trying to leave his shop in one piece? In most cases, I believe that what we define as "evil" can be avoided by just searching harder for another sollution to ones problems. But stealing is often the case in wild life survival. Often do we see in documentaries, one animal to kill his pray, and another, stronger predator "steals" its pray. But in this case, we see stealing as something of a status for the specific social structure of the predators.
  10. Aug 18, 2007 #9
    I think that this is another question for the consciousness debate.
    Humans can reflect on their surroundings but also themselves, and we can learn that certain things are good and certain things are bad because we ourselves have an opinion on what we like and don't like, and what we fear.

    I mean if you are aware that you are afraid of getting physically hurt, and this is a negative emotion to you, why would you go and do it to others on purpose?
    Hence morality is born.
  11. Aug 19, 2007 #10
    Deontology ftw
  12. Aug 26, 2007 #11

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    What is your distinction between pain and suffering?
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2007
  13. Aug 26, 2007 #12
    Pain and suffering have nothing to do with defining evil. Evil is an expression of motive or intention, pain and suffering are outcomes of action or inaction. Pain and suffering is often caused when there is no evil motive, i.e accidents, natural disasters, etc.

    Evil is the intentional desire to destroy, corrupt, disfigure, or other wise ruin something or someone because it pleases you. A truly evil person receives some personal gratification from the wrong they are doing. This kind of evil does not come from nature, but from the corruption of conscience that follows repeated choices that go against what the individual knows is right. Every time the "do unto others" rule is broken, the individual slips further into the darkness where the light of conscience cannot shine.

    Once a person slips into this darkness, the thought of doing good no longer brings any pleasure, but only conviction for all the wrongs already done. The good things of this world become their enemy because the light of those things makes their darkness so much darker. The only source of pleasure is to destroy that which is good, and so justify the darkness they have chosen. Evil is an evolution of immoral choices that break the will free from conscience.
  14. Aug 26, 2007 #13


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    Thus debated the ancient Greeks.

    According to the 2nd century tourist guide Pausanias, the old Athenians had their own court to instigate legal action against wicked inanimate objects.

    For example, a hammer that fell off a shelf and hit a man in his head so that he got a grave concussion was found guilty; the poor hammer was sentenced to be taken apart and be destroyed.

    I'm not kidding, this really happened in the cradle of rational thought..:cry:
  15. Sep 1, 2007 #14
    Benedict de Spinoza, how we admire thee.

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