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Old 12-26-2008, 12:08 AM   #1
Achilles
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The Evil Thread

What is evil and where does it come from?

Is it a cultural catch-all that we use to label immoral acts or is it something more that exists throughout all of nature, whether we are capable of recognizing it or not?
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Old 12-26-2008, 02:29 AM   #2
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Evil has many connotations attached to it such as murder, death, hurt, harshness, crime, cruelty, slavery, ect. Based on many of the connotations, evil would be more of an act. But that leads us to a question--how do such things form in us? Is it exclusive to the human race, or is it an occurance in all species? At this moment, I am gonna have to say that evil is something that is related to humans.

The Female Black Widow kills/eats the male after mating. This is something that happens in nature. Is it evil that the female does this, probably not. It is something that instinctual. But then, why would it be any different with humans? Evil could be considered as a human characteristic. The laws that humans have set up fight evils, such as rape, murder, theft. To many questions...

I personally think that it is more of a "cultural catch-all" as you said. Obviously other species don't recognize evil, that I am aware of. Unless, you have any to say that will change my mind, then that is what I am gonna have to stay with for now. Tough question!

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Old 01-04-2009, 11:51 PM   #3
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Based on what I've observed during my short time here on Earth, I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised if it turned out that evil has a consciousness, a will and an agenda of its own.


"They should rename the team to the Washington Government Sucks. Put Obama on the helmet. Line the entire walls of the stadium with the actual text of the ACA.
Fix their home team score on the board to the debt clock, they can win every game 17,000,000,000,000 to 24. Losing team gets taxed by the IRS 100%, then droned."
-Toker
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Old 01-05-2009, 01:22 AM   #4
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So evil is an entity? Where did it come from? Other than having attained consciousness and having a will of it's own, what else can we determine about it? How do we recognize it when we see it, etc?
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Old 01-05-2009, 03:31 AM   #5
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Quote:
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So evil is an entity?
I never said that it was. I just said that I wouldn't be surprised if it was.
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Where did it come from?
Tough question. It appears to have always been here, and it seems to be ingrained in our nature. As a matter of fact, I would venture to say that it is a very real part of nature itself. When I observe how nature works, I don't see a benevolent system. In fact I see exactly the opposite.
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Other than having attained consciousness and having a will of it's own, what else can we determine about it? How do we recognize it when we see it, etc?
From my point of view, it manifests itself in certain behavioral patterns which, after having been observed in different persons or groups of people over a period of several years, become almost instantly recognizable. I could almost label it as either a congenital or contagious (or both, perhaps?) behavioral disease.

I would list the symptoms as such:
1) Dishonesty with one's self and others. This takes many forms, from a simple disingenuous demeanor to rationalizing to pathological lying.
2) A lack of conscience, or ignoring one's conscience.
3) A feeling of superiority over "inferiors" and the desire and impetus to prove such superiority. This ties in closely with...
4) A misplaced sense of entitlement to getting something for nothing, usually at the expense of a supposed "inferior". Basically the desire to take advantage. This has several subcategories:
a) The glib manipulator.
b) The control freak.
c) The social vampire.
d) The sexaholic/sexual predator.
e) The bully.
f) And, of course, the thief.
Symptoms 3 and 4 can be summed up nicely as what I've come to refer to as "ruthless hedonism".
5) Jealousy.
6) Herd mentality. (May be evil, or it's a trait that evil exploits, or maybe I just hate it. )

There are others that I'm too tired to think of right now, but I guess that my point is that most if not all of the symptoms that I have listed are either predatory or parasitic in nature. It seems to spread among those who are susceptible, from just one person to an entire group (which is why I hate herd mentality). The reason why I stated that it might have a will of it's own is that it genuinely appeared to me that those affected were being manipulated, as if they were not in control of what they were doing, and as if another mind was thinking for them.

Has anyone else observed anything like this?


"They should rename the team to the Washington Government Sucks. Put Obama on the helmet. Line the entire walls of the stadium with the actual text of the ACA.
Fix their home team score on the board to the debt clock, they can win every game 17,000,000,000,000 to 24. Losing team gets taxed by the IRS 100%, then droned."
-Toker
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Old 01-07-2009, 09:40 PM   #6
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If evil is behavioral, then it is a product of our environment, no?

I'm struggling with your proposed symptoms because it would seem that almost any animal, mineral, or vegetable could meet the criteria. If a truly moral person in every sense of the word existed but lacked the consciousness to be a vegan or accidentally swiped a pen from work once, they would still be "evil".

Does intent or mitigating circumstances play into this at all? If a woman killed a man that was threatening her children, would she be evil?
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Old 01-07-2009, 10:16 PM   #7
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Wow. I just saw this thread and I think it's a good question, worthy of a good answer. Now, do I have a good answer? I don't know.

Evil, I would say, is anything bad done simply because it can be done. For example, if I were to murder someone, not out of anger, but because I can. I would consider myself evil. Also, anything occultic is evil. That's my point of view, anyway.

Where did evil come from? Though I cant be certain that he even exist, but the obvious answer for me is Satan/the Devil. According to Christianity and the bible, Satan was thrown out of heaven and into hell because he wanted to be God. He then taunted Adam and Eve into eating of the forbidden fruit, and did numerous (and still continues to) other evil deed during the bible.

I don't know if the Christians are right about the story of creation and all, but I'd say if he exist, evil does come from Satan and demons.

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Old 01-07-2009, 10:30 PM   #8
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Evil, I would say, is anything bad done simply because it can be done.
We have to operationally define "bad" for context.

The example of the high-wire guy who illegally crossed the span between the two World Trade Center towers springs to mind. He broke the law to do some thing just to say that he did. Evil?

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For example, if I were to murder someone, not out of anger, but because I can. I would consider myself evil.
And if you were to murder someone because you didn't like them? Still evil?

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Also, anything occultic is evil. That's my point of view, anyway.
Again, something we would need to define. Christianity had occult roots.

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Where did evil come from? Though I cant be certain that he even exist, but the obvious answer for me is Satan/the Devil.
And where did he come from? Do you accept the mythology that he was once god's archangel?

Off-topic: if humans alone have free will, then what caused lucifer (and his brothers) to be able to rise up against his (their) lord?

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According to Christianity and the bible, Satan was thrown out of heaven and into hell because he wanted to be God.
Whoops. Should've read ahead. Sorry.

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I don't know if the Christians are right about the story of creation and all, but I'd say if he exist, evil does come from Satan and demons.
Okay. How do we test this?
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Old 01-08-2009, 04:54 AM   #9
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I believe It's just part of human nature and behavior, you can't over-analyze it. It just is.

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Old 01-08-2009, 06:08 AM   #10
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And if it "just is not"? Would it still be over analyzing?
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Old 01-08-2009, 06:31 PM   #11
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And if it "just is not"? Would it still be over analyzing?
Well, sorta. It's also difficult to define what 'evil' is since people perceive things so differently, It's a cultural catch-all. And as others have stated, this is quite a tough question.

As for the notion that it exists in nature or not, I do believe it does from a certain point of view. One might think that a wolf who hunts down and eats a caribou mother is an evil act. Though it only has to do with survival.

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Old 01-08-2009, 06:43 PM   #12
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Well, sorta. It's also difficult to define what 'evil' is since people perceive things so differently, It's a cultural catch-all. And as others have stated, this is quite a tough question.
FWIW, I think so too. I'm not entirely convinced that evil (or good) exists. I was hoping that kicking the subject around with others might help me to clarify my thinking on the matter.

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As for the notion that it exists in nature or not, I do believe it does from a certain point of view. One might think that a wolf who hunts down and eats a caribou mother is an evil act.
The wolf has to eat though.

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Though it only has to do with survival.
So can survival itself be evil? Does my earlier question about intent make this easier or harder?
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Old 01-09-2009, 08:09 AM   #13
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Evil is just a word with a definition. what some consider to be evil others may consider it normal. Individuals decided what "evil" was long ago and people bought into it and passed it down throughout time. this is all IMO of course.
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Old 01-09-2009, 10:43 AM   #14
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Quote:
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We have to operationally define "bad" for context.


Off-topic: if humans alone have free will, then what caused lucifer (and his brothers) to be able to rise up against his (their) lord?

jealousy


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Old 01-09-2009, 10:55 AM   #15
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jealousy
Sure, that's fine, however if angels don't have free will, then how were they able to act on that jealousy (or decide to be jealous in the first place)? Just pointing out how once again the story is full of holes.
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Old 01-09-2009, 01:48 PM   #16
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there is no such thing like evil


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Old 01-10-2009, 09:17 PM   #17
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Ah, Lucifer was made to be above the angels, thus, was given a bit more liberty than the rest. When Lucifer rebelled, it was that extended leash and power that enabled him to break others from the Will of God and bring the War to the Throne of God.

Then God laughed and cast them to the earth.

At least this is how I learned it.

Evil is subjective. An absolute that we have defined in Western Society that is inherently at odds at being defined. What is evil? To our culture, may be different in others.

It is something that I have difficulty defining given the state of the world. Is Isreal evil? Is there act of invasion of Gaza evil? Yes, they are, but waging war, causing a humanitarian crisis with in Gaza, but why? They were repeatedly attacked again and again from Gaza. Thus, is self defense evil? Is the wish to have a secure nation and boarder evil?

On the flip side, is the Gaza attacks evil? Is the Hamas and Islamic governments at fault for the partitioning of the world that didn't have thier involvement?

Everything is subjective. Concepts like good and evil are subjective to the culture that develops those concepts.

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Old 01-10-2009, 09:39 PM   #18
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Quote:
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Ah, Lucifer was made to be above the angels, thus, was given a bit more liberty than the rest. When Lucifer rebelled, it was that extended leash and power that enabled him to break others from the Will of God and bring the War to the Throne of God.

Then God laughed and cast them to the earth.

At least this is how I learned it.
Lucifer had free will? Yes or no.

If no, then he was not acting of his own volition and the story falls apart.

If yes, then mankind alone does not possess free will and the story falls apart.

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Everything is subjective. Concepts like good and evil are subjective to the culture that develops those concepts.
Then it would seem that there is no evil then. Only a human construct which is relative to the culture. This seems to be the conclusion to which I keep arriving.
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Old 01-11-2009, 12:21 AM   #19
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read the book 'dialogues with the devil'


Battle is a pure form of expression. It is heart and discipline, reduced to movement and motion. In battle, the words are swept away, giving way to actions-- mercy, sacrifice, anger, fear. These are pure moments of expression.
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Old 01-11-2009, 09:51 AM   #20
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Quote:
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Ah, Lucifer was made to be above the angels
An Arc Angel, to be exact.

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Old 01-11-2009, 10:03 AM   #21
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or an archangel even.
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Old 01-12-2009, 07:00 PM   #22
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Yes, if I recall my studies into various religion, the Arch-Angels are the direct carriers of Gods Will, by that I mean if God decides to meddle in the affairs of man, his go to "A" Team would be the Arch-Angels to decend to earth to carry out his will. Such that it is assumed an Arch-Angel took the first borns of the Egyptians.

Thus, the Arch-Angels were created with a certain degree of latitude, God gave them a relativley long leash so they could carry out his will as they thought most efficant or prudent. Thus Lucifer gained the sense of pride, then envy, which resulted in his rebellion against God's Throne.

Again, God laughs.

Evil is so subjective, where I have arrived at your conclusion as well. With concepts like good and evil so subjective to even the individual it is hard to discern the truth. For example, to contain a potentially leathal virus from escaping to the general populace, I would be completley willing to raze and burn the entire infected area, and a good 10 radius from the edge of that zone. People ask, what if it was NYC?

NYC would not be NYC, it would be a rather large hole in the ground.

Because of that, I look evil. But, on the same token, I have potentially saved the lives of millions of other Americans.

It comes down to how far you go into the "Ends justify the means" belief. There are some ends that no means can ever justify, but again, that is subjective.

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Old 01-12-2009, 08:06 PM   #23
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Quote:
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Yes, if I recall my studies into various religion, the Arch-Angels are the direct carriers of Gods Will, by that I mean if God decides to meddle in the affairs of man, his go to "A" Team would be the Arch-Angels to decend to earth to carry out his will. Such that it is assumed an Arch-Angel took the first borns of the Egyptians.

Thus, the Arch-Angels were created with a certain degree of latitude, God gave them a relativley long leash so they could carry out his will as they thought most efficant or prudent. Thus Lucifer gained the sense of pride, then envy, which resulted in his rebellion against God's Throne.

Again, God laughs.
That sounded like a "yes"

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Evil is so subjective, where I have arrived at your conclusion as well. With concepts like good and evil so subjective to even the individual it is hard to discern the truth. For example, to contain a potentially leathal virus from escaping to the general populace, I would be completley willing to raze and burn the entire infected area, and a good 10 radius from the edge of that zone. People ask, what if it was NYC?

NYC would not be NYC, it would be a rather large hole in the ground.

Because of that, I look evil. But, on the same token, I have potentially saved the lives of millions of other Americans.

It comes down to how far you go into the "Ends justify the means" belief. There are some ends that no means can ever justify, but again, that is subjective.
Then "evil" would be the label that some people might choose to apply to moral decision. At that point moral philosophy takes over and "good" and "evil" become useless.
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Old 01-15-2009, 02:32 PM   #24
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My personal take:
Evil is a cultural construct - not necessarily a catch-all, but evil is defined by society, and each person within the society decides how they will define evil. What is determined to be evil by society as a while is sort of a "majority rules" kind of system. One example of this is sex: many things are considered acceptable today that were previously considered evil or, at least, shameful.

That being said, there are simultaneously certain 'self-evident truths' when it comes to what is good vs. what is evil. For instance, just because many in early societies felt that slavery was justifiable, or even good, that didn't make it good. The act was justified in the minds of the persons carrying out the acts, but those acts were by their nature evil. The same can be said of the Nazis with the Holocaust or the Khmer Rouge and the Killing Fields, among other examples. There is something in human nature that finds certain acts to be evil, and while there have been instances of societies that have not defined those acts as evil, there is usually some sort of over-riding ideology in those societies that the societies' leaders use to indoctrinate the citizenry into believing that evil acts are justified or good.

So, to simplify things a bit:
There are basically two kinds of evil: evil that is defined by society, and evil that is defined by "natural law," or "God's law."


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Old 01-15-2009, 03:07 PM   #25
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For the parts that you used as examples of "objective evil", I think we could classify them as "immoral", moving them into the realm of moral philosophy and removing a great deal of unnecessary baggage. I think this is consistent with the idea that there is no evil and that the true debate is between moral vs immoral behavior.
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