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 5 months, 1 week ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 31 through 45 (of 180 total)
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  • #8812

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    What I mean is, people from other groups are seen as weird, but if that group becomes a threat to “our” group, then those people are also seen as bad.

    #8813

    Unseen
    Participant

    The proper antonym of ‘good’ is ‘bad’. The term ‘evil’ is a giving up of the possibility to make the ‘bad’ become less so, or even good. It’s populism can most probably be linked to religion or group thinking. There is no real antonym to ‘evil’ I don’t believe in ‘evil’, I think it’s a perjurative term.

    You need to tell the lexicographers that “good” isn’t the antonym of “evil.” They also list “virtuous” and “beneficial.” Take your pick.

    • This reply was modified 6 months ago by  Unseen.
    #8815

    Unseen
    Participant

    What would you call or label the absence of evil?

    Heaven? Which further defines “evil” as a human invention and not a “thing.”

    #8816

    Unseen
    Participant

    Humans are primates. An animal. Religion pretends that we are a special animal, endowed by our creator as a soul and the gift or curse of knowing good and evil and having to male the right choices. However, animals don’t judge each other creatures as good or evil as species OR individuals. Are we somehow qualitatively different from squirrels, amoebae, porpoises, or elephants? But isn’t Evil a sort of thing just like God that people invented? Not real, but just something we think (or hope) is real, just as we think goodness is real?

    If evil isn’t a human invention (as a concept), then wouldn’t you be forced to say that evil exists on its own and would still operate in the world had every other creature evolved save humans? Is a male lion evil for killing off the cubs fathered by another male? Are lampreys or tapeworms evil?

    • This reply was modified 6 months ago by  Unseen.
    #8818

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    It depends how you define evil.

    We could call it, causing harm for pleasure, or causing harm for some unworthy reason to do with self-preservation, such as might involve lies.

    Baboons are a very spiteful species, and they also have a very strong dominance heirarchy.  Other species may well have been observed to be spiteful (causing harm for no gain other than enjoyment).

    If evil isn’t a human invention (as a concept)

    – surely only human beings can have concepts.

    #8820

    Unseen – I totally agree.  I am just relaxing and having a very unevil day today.

    #8821

    jakelafort
    Participant

    No Unseen.

    God is a construct?  Of course.  So is Superman,  unicorns and centaurs.  Gods , cartoon characters, mythological creatures are all  conjured from imagination.

    Evil on other hand describes deliberate harm and intentional cruelty to a shocking degree.  Evil is a concept that describes actual behavior.  So the god construct/evil construct is inapposite.

    No doubt evil would still be in play in absence of humans.  Animals who are exclusively or predominantly behaving from instinct will be exempt.  Obviously evil is volitional.  So any animals who have or develop the cognitive capability of  inflicting wanton cruelty for no other end than are subject to the characterization: EVIL MONKEY!

    In theory aliens could descend upon us or other animals and act in a way that is so cruel that we rightly characterize it as evil.

    #8825

    Unseen
    Participant

    No doubt evil would still be in play in absence of humans.  Animals who are exclusively or predominantly behaving from instinct will be exempt.  Obviously evil is volitional.  So any animals who have or develop the cognitive capability of  inflicting wanton cruelty for no other end than are subject to the characterization: EVIL MONKEY!

    Basically, your argument is that if an animal has to do what it does because the behavior is in its nature or is at the end of a causal chain, then the idea of evil can’t be applied. So, in the case of humans, if human action is the result of preceding conditions, humans can’t be evil. And yet, humans aren’t somehow exempt from the laws of the universe. Humans can’t step outside the causal nexus and “go rogue.” Ergo, humans can’t be evil, and if people can’t be evil, evil doesn’t exist. It’s no more than a notion.

    #8826

    Unseen
    Participant

    Can you operate with never using the word ‘evil’?  Would there be an obstacle to your communications without this word?  It’s a ‘magic thinking’ word, and since no human is all bad or all good, it would appear to be an invalid term

    Aren’t I implying that we should not use the term because it has no referent? That it’s an invention and nothing real?

    #8827

    Unseen
    Participant

    What would you call or label the absence of evil?

    Isn’t it usually called paradise, Shangri-La, Heaven or some such?

    #8828

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Unseen,

    I have already indicated as much…

    That same mindset or perspective negates all human characterizations of behavior.  Unless you are a monk or some kind of atypical person ya can’t live without thinking in terms of good and evil and everything in between.  Being human means judging others.

    #8829

    Unseen
    Participant

    Being human means judging others.

    And we can’t help judging others because the brain doesn’t give us a choice. The mind thinks what the brain, operating according to the laws of the universe, tells it to think.

    #8835

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    So Unseen, your point seems to be that any human choice is imaginary, and therefore, any human behaviour based on choice has no meaning.

    #8838

    Davis
    Participant

    Evil on other hand describes deliberate harm and intentional cruelty to a shocking degree.

    Unfortunately it is not that simple. Unseen is right in two ways. First, Evil is a terribly terribly vague term and it does not objectively describe a certain kind of human behaviour but instead many overlapping patterns of human behaviour, rooted in culturally based judgement and endlessly inconsistent interpretations. In one definition it is “pointless cruelty” in another it is “systemaically and habitually objectifying and degrading multiple people (often a group of people)” and then there is the “mass sociopathy or individual psychopathy”. Definitions of evil are so differing and widespread, it is a term that should go the way of the dustheap, to the flames. It is also a term so deeply rooted in religion, especially for us, monotheism…that it carries with it a kind of Jewish/Christian baggage that makes it difficult not to see evil as some kind of force or even anthropomorphised character of its own. For all these reasons, evil is a human construct and we would be far better off to consider each of these differing patterns of behaviour more objectively, and hopefully separately.

    Studying “mass sociopathy” for example…the ability for a group of otherwise praiseworthy individuals turning on a group of other people, objectifying them and showing no empathy/sympathy for their suffering…is currently being studied in multidisciplinary reasearch and has yielded a LOT of useful information. If we dispense with the concept of EVIL here, we actually shed a lot of baggage, not see evil as some force that can spread or exist in some diabolical sphere of its own…but instead how through group social dynamics under certain common conditions we are highly suseptible to increasing sociopathy and psychopathy. The concept of evil gets in the way, muddies things and even helps religion extend its confusing and useless hand into the fray.

    Or we can study the individual, how one person who is a psychopath and/or sociopath can be outwardly charming and able to manipulate others around them while inwardly showing not the slightest care for others, calculatingly achieving their own goals, often the sustained suffering of others. This is yet another pattern of human behaviour that is sufficiently different to the earlier pattern (group think) that it really should be considered apart from it, that is, not all grouped together into one concept of Evil. They are two quite different patterns of behaviour, with different origins and a very different path towards inflicting suffering and trying to counter and or end it.

    Add to this many other patterns of human behaviour and the term evil become some bloated useless term that only brings confusion and a lack of useful information. Evil should be left to Christians and their pointless useless search for the “problem of Evil”. A non-problem in my humble opinion. The question of evil, the ridiculous persuit of chritians trying to square a circle…explain how horrid suffering can exist in a world with an all good and all loving creator. This is where the term Evil should stay. This is why evil is just a human construct.

    Secondly, Unseen is right in the other sense. Those who suffer a certain kind of mental problems (lumped into term evil), who are extreme sociopaths and psychopaths suffer specific mental problems which can be identified in the brain, and through counciling and possibly medication, hopefuly be cured (even a little). To what extent that perrson is responsible for their unthinkable crimes, is still hard to tell, but psychologists and analytical philosophers of psychology are leaning towards a “lack of responsibility” in the same light as, those who suffer from temporary insanity or PTSD committing crimes completely inconsistent with their normal behaviour done under extreme conditions.

    As for a group of people, say during the French revolution when a group of people beheaded thousands whether they were guilty or not, it is much more difficult to say if they are responsible with what happened during mass hysteria. The fact that others, under the same conditions did not commit unspeakable crimes, suggests that people are at the very least, partially responsible for the cruelty and harm they inflict. It still needs to be studied more.

    Hopefully without the concept of evil getting in the way.

    • This reply was modified 6 months ago by  Davis.
    #8844

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Davis,

    Should we redact our lexicon with surgical efficiency in event there is ambiguity?

    Take any adjective, say beneficent, and ask yourself how many scenarios it may be describe.  Does its utility in describing various manifestations of charity, philanthropy and altruism mitigate its application? Ought we eliminate all such words?

    Words have connotations which are dependent on context. So? I can do the same kind of analysis as above to demonstrate but it is too obvious to bother.  Ought we eliminate those words?

    Also there is no issue in having a lay word which describes behavior which is examined and understood in a clinical/scientific way.

    The word evil in going beyond its religious nexus is a useful word in expressing emotion and outrage at senseless cruelty.  There may not be another word with as great feeling.

    In terms of understanding Unseen’s mindset i believe you are consistent but too narrow. I don’t suspect it is any different than what has been expressed and that you were so frustrated over in discussing free will.

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