6 comments

  • >1st things first, Good and evil(if they do exist) are definatly actions, I cant think of a reason that a person, with out doing anything, could be either good or evil. They have to act, and do something before they would get branded good or evil, and therefore it would be the actions that are good or evil.

  • >But what about intentions? In a theoretical world who would be more evil; an Adolf Hitler who was never able to act because he was stopped, or someone like Eichmann who Hannnah Arendt (a leading 20th century political theorist) named evil through banality? The banality of evil means that someone can be evil if they blindly follow orders despite full knowledge of what they're doing. Or perhaps thoughts are a type of action? If so where do we draw the lines?Perhaps a more interesting example is Nicholas Cage in 'Lord of War'. It's what made me think of the question. He justifies selling arms to his wife with the line "but I'm good at it". He doesn't seem overtly evil, but nor does he seem good. Instead he travels though life in a very banal manner, doing only what he is good at despite any moral outlook. I find the subject raises quite an interesting question. Can we aspire to be more than we are? Most people are or become fairly close in character to the life they lead. For example if your job and family situation require care and understanding you often are undersanding, but look for the opposite profession and you will find very different values. But where does all this come from? Do we nurture ourselves, shaping our own personality based on the life we pursue? Or is more shaped by our nature, with our pursuits echoing our pre-determined genetic make-up? Scientists recently made a key breakthrough testing on two closely related types of Voles. The Prairie Vole is sociable, caring and monogamous. But its relative, the Meadow Vole, is solitary and promiscuous. These scientists have linked this difference in behaviour down to a genetic difference. Prairie Voles have many Vasopressin receptors in their brains. The Meadow Voles do not. Interestingly certain variants of this receptor have been linked with been linked with difficult marriages in humans too.So if you believe it's all actions and that evil is wrong then what is wrong behind these actions? Is the person shaping the 'evil' actions or is the person merely who that person's genes tell him or her to be?

  • >They are subjective.Prime example is Murder. Supposedly a universal agreement that it is wrong. But the UK is currently fighting a 'war' where people are dying because of direct intentions aimed at ending their life.They are given parades when they return home.But this was just an example, I do not want to talk about the 'war'.Maybe you could say that any intention designed to deprive people of happiness is evil, where there is no counter weighted benefit to the enacter, i.e. he doesn't gain anything from making you lose.This is the only definition which to me could be seen as 'evil'. It therefore exempts all the accepted evils like Hitler, etc, etc as they had motives and beliefs behind their actions.

  • >I think this is actually quite similar with the debate 'Do you think your life has more worth/value than that held by others?' Just as I agreed lifes' value is subjective there, so I must agree with Sean here that the concepts of evil and good are subjective. We cannot judge all the consequences of our actions and so we do not have the evidence to make a final decision. However there are many other concepts that are also subjective and yet still we are able to reach some agreement. Take truth for example. We say we must respect people's beliefs, but we would not respect a belief that ran contrary to what we considered to be the truth i.e. that proven by science. We would not say "sure you can have a driving license if you believe hitting the acceleration pedal slows the car down. I respect those beliefs." Instead we'd probably call him/her an idiot and then pass the story around all our friends and family. There are even some truths, and some views that we accept within particular societies, or even around the world without proof. So my question is can we find certain views of these concepts that could be accepted within society? Could we take your definition Sean that any intention designed to deprive people of happiness is evil, where there is no counter weighted benefit to the enacter? If so how do we judge what intentions are designed to deprive people? And could that caused deprivation not outweigh some benefits to the enactor?Also, what's the difference between acting as your conscience dictates and acting as your mind dictates when there is a choice between the two. Say you are faced with the decision of whether to murder 1 person to save 10. Would it be wrong to make this decision? Would it be wrong to refuse to do so to avoid the guilt of action? Most films usually take the first view that it would be wrong to take that action.

  • >Good and Evil do exist, but they only exist as a result of human self-consciousness. Prior to this there was nothing but actions. A lion kills a gazelle. Why? Because it is instinct, nature, hungry? It is incapable of reading further into it than this. This act of killing is neither good nor evil, but normal.Human beings development of a conscience and a sense of right and wrong have led to the assignation of certain actions being deemed good or evil. But this being said, different individuals have a different opinion of what may constitute a good/evil act.

  • >Good and evil exist as concepts. Yes absolutely. But the question of whether or not they exist without analysis is more controversial. If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? I think yes it does but its meaning is lessened. So I do not think concepts themselves can be destroyed. But if no one alive knows of them then those concepts have no meaning for those life forms. So in essence yes I agree that the impact of these concepts has been relatively modern since the evolution of our brains (I don't say human brains because I know that many animals have a sense of right and wrong and I'm reluctant to say for certain that no ape has developed similar concepts).But you raise a very interesting question by saying that prior to our development of these concepts killing would have been thought of as normal. Most animals would not think in terms of right and wrong. But I think some do, and therefore it is also likely that humans developed the concepts of right and wrong before their more extreme counterparts good and evil.Definitely agree with the last paragraph.

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