IS EVIL REAL? OR, LIKE GOD, A HUMAN INVENTION?

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This topic contains 179 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  Unseen 1 year, 3 months ago.

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  • #9090

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Again if you are referring to supernatural then it is nonsense.  But mankind has perpetrated such and so many ghastly unspeakable acts of cruelty that describing it as evil is as legitimate as describing good-hearted selfless acts without potlatch expectations as philanthropy.  Evil is a good and useful part of our lexicon to convey our horror over the very worst acts of wanton cruelty.

    #9092

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    When I had my breakdown recently (when I was off-air in February), the whole story was Good versus Evil.  This is probably a very common delusion.

    Al Q’aeda said “you love life, we love death”.  In other words, “we’re the forces of Evil”.  What else are Isis?  What was the Marquis de Sade?  He revelled in evil for its own sake.  How about the policeman who goes on demonstrations so he can batter girls?

    It’s easy to see where the forces of Evil could come from: it’s innate in the human specimen.  It’s an extension of the competitive side of human nature.  If we consider this diagram, showing the two dimensions of social life: competitive and cooperative, we can see that clearly.

    #9093

    Unseen
    Participant

    Again if you are referring to supernatural then it is nonsense.  But mankind has perpetrated such and so many ghastly unspeakable acts of cruelty that describing it as evil is as legitimate as describing good-hearted selfless acts without potlatch expectations as philanthropy.  Evil is a good and useful part of our lexicon to convey our horror over the very worst acts of wanton cruelty.

    Can you name one moral/ethical principle we today generally regard as evil that has always been held to be so, and not just by individuals but by entire societies? Not murder. Not incest. Not infidelity. Not cheating when making deals. All have been held to be okay by some society in the past. This is because such “principles” are not universal but are bound to the notions held by social groups in certain times and places. ALL moral/ethical judgments lack universality. The only seemingly universal moral/ethical notions are distressingly vague, like “always do what’s right” or “never cause harm” which are invariably offered without similarly universal specifics.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 3 months ago by  Unseen.
    #9096

    jakelafort
    Participant

    @unseen wrote some stuff similar to stuff he has written already.

    Can you name one scientific principle we today generally regard as true that has always been held to be so, and not just by individuals but by entire societies? Not gravity.  Not genetics.  Not evolution. Not the big bang theory.

    Could it be that universality is not a criteria for either establishment or validity?

    Attempting to use the absence of popularity as a way of negating a principle is not sensible. For if a thing is argued as legit due to its popularity we quickly point out the fallacy.  Societies and individuals comprising societies have been largely fucked in their collective heads.  I will defer to the mob as to ethics when a nonexistent hell freezes over and sells out the stadium to the Ice Capades.

    Ethics has to strike a balance between the autonomy/freedom/liberty of the individual and other individuals & the state.  Too much power in one resulting in infringement of another is a violation whether it is in 15th century Italy at an auto da fe,  19th century USA at a lynching or 20th century Germany at a concentration camp.  When we examine glaringly and gut-wrenchingly depraved acts we are justified in calling those acts unethical or if we are exposing our emotions as evil.

    Moral relativism be damned.

    #9097

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    Every abomination under the sun has been sanctioned by a State at some point or other.

    Nearly all people that have ever lived don’t believe in murder (legally speaking), rape, incest, or cheating in deals.  The French are pretty relaxed about infidelity it seems.

    #9098

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    If you ask a religious person “what is right and wrong?”  they say “what God says”.

    If you ask an atheist, what’s their possible answer?  It can only be, “what people say”.

    It’s not possible to compare scientific knowledge with ethical legitimacy, because they are two different classes of – what?  information?  Scientific knowledge is an attempt to describe reality.

    #9120

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    @unseen – “Not cheating when making deals. All have been held to be okay by some society in the past.

    – can you name this society, or give evidence of it?

    #9123

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

     

    If you ask a religious person “what is right and wrong?”  they say “what God says”. If you ask an atheist, what’s their possible answer?  It can only be, “what people say”.

    And the irony is that people invented and promulgate “what God says”, and largely (if not completely) what Jesus said. I too, find it difficult to argue with theists who insist that there must be some kind of absolute, universal (or divine) definition of evil or morality.

    As for the origin of this very strong human (if not animal) tendency to discover a divine source of morality (and perfect language to describe it, for that matter), I personally feel that the need to do so is built into us, biologically… or, as this topic is most relevant to humanity, primarily neuro-biologically and secondarily as a question of the most efficient, persistent and lasting cultural memes. (I.e. we humans have a new level of abstraction we can add to the animal level of purely biological species selection/Darwism. Btw did Darwin have anything to say about ‘evil’? Just curious but not curious enough to look it up.)

    Taking my notions on this subject (wrt human constructs) to an extreme, there’s a wikia (or two, not to mention other cultural arts) to help illustrate!

    http://villains.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Star_Trek_Villains

    #9130

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    the need to do so is built into us, biologically

    – it promotes cooperation and is a reflection of culture (which also promotes cooperation).  Cooperation enables humans to live.

    #9131

    Unseen
    Participant

    @unseen – “Not cheating when making deals. All have been held to be okay by some society in the past.” – can you name this society, or give evidence of it?

    Never heard of “The Travelers” (aka “The Irish Travelers”)? Gypsy societies with thousands or even tens of thousands of members who have prospered largely based on cons.

    History isn’t my main “thing” but I’m sure cheating outsiders considered to be fair “marks” is nothing new.

    In our own day, various forms of cheating are given a wink and a nod, such as paying as little as possible in a garage sale if you discover a vastly undervalued item for sale. An ethical person would take the seller aside and tell them that they are holding something worth far more than the asking price and say, “I’ll pay what you are asking, but I feel I’d be cheating you.” However, many people would not only buy the item at the asking price, but brag about having pulled one over on the clueless seller. And most fellow citizens would laugh along with them.

    We as a people regularly cheat on taxes through under-the-table or off-the-books payment deals.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 3 months ago by  Unseen.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 3 months ago by  Unseen.
    #9133

    Unseen
    Participant

    the need to do so is built into us, biologically” – it promotes cooperation and is a reflection of culture (which also promotes cooperation). Cooperation enables humans to live.

    One group can cooperate to the detriment of another group. Open your eyes. Look around you.

    #9135

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    “The Travelers” (aka “The Irish Travelers”)? Gypsy societies with thousands or even tens of thousands of members

    – I’m sure they would say, there’s good and bad in everyone.

    cheating outsiders

    – how about cheating each other?  That’s a different story.  A group cannot function internally if all members are cheating each other.

    One group can cooperate to the detriment of another group

    – that’s very true, and this is a big and age-old problem.

    #9137

    FYI  – Irish Travelers –  They are genetically different to most Irish people and therefore have a genuine claim to be deemed to be members of a distinct ethnic group. If you come in contact with them you are about to be scammed. They are very shrewd and no matter how street smart you are, they were up earlier than you that day. They are all very wealthy. After a storm in Atlanta they called to the house to “fix” the roof slates than had (not) come loose. I told them in the own language that they “were clemed” – as in “you have just been made”. They grinned at me and waltzed away. They will gladly clean out the saving of a invalided pensioner and not lose any sleep over it. When the going gets hot , they move State (or even country).

    But Reg you can’t say that about a whole group of people. Yes, I can and I do. If a stranger knocks on your front door offering to clean your roof gutters or driveway tell them to get lost.

    #9138

    _Robert_
    Participant

    FYI – Irish Travelers – They are genetically different to most Irish people and therefore have a genuine claim to be deemed to be members of a distinct ethnic group. If you come in contact with them you are about to be scammed. They are very shrewd and no matter how street smart you are, they were up earlier than you that day. They are all very wealthy. After a storm in Atlanta they called to the house to “fix” the roof slates than had (not) come loose. I told them in the own language that they “were clemed” – as in “you have just been made”. They grinned at me and waltzed away. They will gladly clean out the saving of a invalided pensioner and not lose any sleep over it. When the going gets hot , they move State (or even country). But Reg you can’t say that about a whole group of people. Yes, I can and I do. If a stranger knocks on your front door offering to clean your roof gutters or driveway tell them to get lost.

    Even the local roofers are often dishonest, let alone the out-of-state carpet baggers that descend on Florida like vultures after a hurricane. I waited 10 months for a great roofer. My town was covered in blue tarps for months, LOL.

    #9139

    Unseen
    Participant

    Gypsy societies with thousands or even tens of thousands of members who have prospered largely based on cons.

    Just to be clear, I’m using the word “gypsy” in a very broad sense to include both ethnic gypsies (aka the “Roma” whose ancestry has been traced back the the Punjab area of India) and other itinerant groups, ethnically related or otherwise, some of whom make a dishonest living.

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