Evil: A Definition

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Fork, Aug 10, 2013.

  1. Fork Banned Banned

    Messages:
    319
    Evil is anything or anyone that enjoys wrong acts. Wiki defines it as:

    Evil is profound immorality.[1] In certain religious contexts evil has been described as a supernatural force.[1] Definitions of evil vary, as does the analysis of its root motives and causes.[2] However elements that are commonly associated with evil involve unbalanced behavior involving expediency, selfishness, ignorance, or neglect.[3]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evil

    I agree with the supernatural part as well.
     
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  3. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    3,519
    Spell..... live .....backwards

    evil is just a word
     
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  5. Fork Banned Banned

    Messages:
    319
    Incorrect. Evil is a nature.
     
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  7. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    7,939
    Hmmm....Regardless of the definitions floating around the internet, I don't attach "supernatural" to the word evil, as it implies that evil is a cosmic demon or someone is possessed by an "evil" spirit which I think is an incorrect use of the word. It therefore infers that we are not responsible for our actions, but instead, some "outward force" is at fault. Never cared for the implication.

    I think that within us all, we have the propensity to do harm to others or to treat them well. I don't believe people are born evil, rather I think if "evil" exists at all, it is a learned behavior.

    Our actions are the sum total of our own decisions, good or bad. I could see the word being used to signify truly heinous behavior, but I don't believe people are inherently evil.

    Just my two cents.
     
  8. Fork Banned Banned

    Messages:
    319
    You don't think possession is real? You've never experienced a force attempting to intercept your mind?


    That would be correct. A possessed person is not responsible for their actions. They are only responsible for their drive to fight off the evil.

    Agreed.

    OK that's interesting. Neither do I.
     
  9. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,545
    Imagine a death camp in Nazi Germany or Marxist Russia. Imagine large numbers of people being gassed, worked or starved to death. Presumably we would agree that what happened in those camps was wrong, and that those wrongs were the result of the actions of those that ran the camps.

    But suppose that none of those camp guards or managers enjoyed the work that they were doing. Suppose that they felt that killing Jews or Communism's class-enemies was a sad but necessary task that had to be done. Or suppose that they were simply following orders unquestioningly, out of blindly idealistic loyalty to the Fuhrer or to the Party.

    Should we conclude that if none of them got any joy from committing these terribly wrong acts, then what what they did wasn't evil and that they themselves weren't evil for doing it?
     
  10. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    7,939
    Hey Fork;

    In the Bible, the references to "evil" are many and they vary. Growing up in a religious household, I was taught a lot of superstitious type things about the concept of evil. But I don't believe in all that, anymore. The word itself to me, is useful when describing horrifyingly heinous behavior...like Hitler's actions during WWII.

    But beyond that, I don't believe in a special "force" taking over someone. Although the movie The Exorcist was rather convincing.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!


    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  11. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    3,519
    nature - definition from :
    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/nature

    na·ture [ney-cher] Show IPA
    noun
    1.
    the material world, especially as surrounding humankind and existing independently of human activities.
    2.
    the natural world as it exists without human beings or civilization.
    3.
    the elements of the natural world, as mountains, trees, animals, or rivers.
    4.
    natural scenery.
    5.
    the universe, with all its phenomena.

    My bad - it would appear that I stand in-corrected! (all due heavy sarcasm intended !! )
    I could use the WORD "evil" as a "cop out", i.e. : "Evil" made me Post this. - I was possessed by "Evil". - "Evil" took control of me.

    Wiki - (World Wide) W-eb I-diots K-nowledge I-ndex
     
  12. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    7,939
    Lol @ "evil made me post that"

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!



    In truth, some murderers use it as an excuse for why they committed heinous acts against others.
    I wonder if any cases have been "won" using that tactic.
    Hmmm!
     
  13. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,284
    Yazata illustrated the problem with that, or with too narrow a definition.

    Primitive societies or young children just needed a simpler, more consequences-feared concept of good / evil that almost depict them as concrete essences, as "real" forces, rather than evil being a useful generalization or classification for certain behaviors that are harmful to the functioning / maintenance of a society; or are deemed "wrong" according to the standards of a particular cultural system.

    I recollect an atheist who eventually gave in to his wife when it came to sending their children to her church. Saying something to the effect of: "They're just too undisciplined, out of control. They seem too young and inexperienced to understand my more complicated or situation-relevant explanations of moral behavior (or I'm too lazy or busy to devote the necessary time). For the time being, it seems easier to institutionally condition them to feel repulsed by certain deeds or that they would be dishonored / punished if they committed such themselves, and that nothing goes unobserved. Hopefully I can exorcise the adult Santa Claus from them later on, as reliably as the Disney version is grown out of." [Obviously a secular, dinosaur opportunist who was in store for a shock later on when that "religiously conservative woman who enjoys passively deferring final decisions to her husband" turned out to be traditional bunk, minus any intimidation tactics on his part.]
     
  14. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    13,769
    I think evil is linked closely to the audacious motive of using humans as a mere means to an end. The end may be the most noble cause imaginable. Suppose infecting 100 people with cancer in drug trials would actually cure cancer eventually. Truly a case of the end justifying the means if there ever was one. Yet such is the slipperly slope to "evil". To even begin to view individual human life as a tool to accomplish a greater good is already evil. Strangely enough that is exactly what war does. But then that's why I see war as evil too.
     
  15. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,545
    Yeah, I agree with wegs. I don't think that 'evil' names a malevolent magical power or metaphysical force. But the word is a very useful moral label for actions that shouldn't be performed and should be condemned.

    Specifying precisely just what those actions are and how we should recognize them is more difficult.

    It certainly seems to have something to do with refraining from and condemning intentional acts that cause others to suffer.

    I like stories like that too. I just bought a book of H.P. Lovecraft stories yesterday. That guy was an absolute master at creating an atmosphere of unspeakable... creepiness. His stories are filled with the feeling that there are things out there that it's probably a lot better that human beings don't know about.

    There is something very basic and very deep in the human psyche that reacts to feelings of the uncanny. (I'd guess that Homo erectus already felt it, long before modern humans ever appeared.)
     
  16. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,545
    I think that's an excellent point.

    Only a few sociopaths deliberately set out to be bad. Most evil-doers think of the evil that they do as a blow struck to advance a good cause.

    It's even more insidious than that. Evil needn't be about causing others to suffer. At least not directly. As Agent Smith so memorably put it, the powers that the 'authorities' assume over you might be "for your own... protection".

    Those who assume power over your life might do it for the most benevolent motives imaginable. They don't want to hurt you, they want to help you, they want to protect you from danger. They are only thinking of your best interests (which of course they believe they know better than you do).

    Even if that means reducing your freedom, autonomy and right of self-determination to that of a pet.
     
  17. Fork Banned Banned

    Messages:
    319
    Yes. Evil is not superficial. It is a real thing.
     
  18. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    3,519
    Mr. Fork, is Evil really real ? Is one able to purchase it anywhere? Is it sold by the weight/volume amount?
    Does it come in various sizes? Once purchased, How is it administered? Is it taken in pill form? Is it a liquid?
    Is it available in a suppository form?
    You state that it is a real thing - does coca-cola bottle it?
    You seem to agree with C.C. and his statement : "Primitive societies or young children just NEEDED a SIMPLER, more consequences-feared CONCEPT of good / evil that ALMOST depict them as CONCRETE ESSENCES.." - Then you CLAIM it is a REAL thing!!
    Even in that statement ,you are intentionally vague - it is a real what - vegetable? - idea? - thought? - animal?
    Have you ever looked at Evil through a microscope?
    Can you catch it, trap it, grab it, put it in a box, a bag or a jar?
    Does it have a taste? Texture? Scent? Is it cold? Hot? Lukewarm?
    Is it a liquid? Gas? Solid?
    Do you have any film, videotape or pictures of this real Evil in it's natural state?
    Is it something anyone can spew, or is it only reserved for those of your ilk?
    If Evil is indeed A REAL TANGIBLE "THING" as you so eloquently stated - please produce some REAL TANGIBLE EVIDENCE of this Real thing!!
    If you cannot, then I will use the WORD, "evil" to describe the acts that you are so blatantly ( and poorly, I might add!) performing!!
     
  19. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    7,939
    Totally get where you're coming from, but isn't your conscience a real thing? That is intangible.

    Evil is real in the sense (to me) that it defines a heinous behavior.
    Heinous behavior is real.

    I can't speak for Fork, but your argument against evil being an intangible, and therefore must not exist, is...a wee bit weak.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  20. elte Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,344
    I see it as intent to do harm to another or others, especially if not in self-defense.
     
  21. Fork Banned Banned

    Messages:
    319
    Yes. You can see it, taste it, touch it and smell it. All very unpleasant.
     
  22. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    3,519
    I did not state that the concept of Evil, did not or must not exist. I even used the word Evil to describe, my feelings about what I felt, Fork was spewing.
    I did not put forth an "...argument against evil being an intangible...", I was stating that EVIL WAS INTANGIBLE, and NOT A REAL THING.

    Intangible : ( http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Intangible ) also ( http://www.thefreedictionary.com/intangible )
    - definition -
    in·tan·gi·ble [in-tan-juh-buhl] Show IPA
    adjective
    1.
    not tangible; incapable of being perceived by the sense of touch, as incorporeal or immaterial things; impalpable.
    2.
    not definite or clear to the mind: intangible arguments.
    3.
    (of an asset) existing only in connection with something else, as the goodwill of a business.
    noun
    4.
    something intangible, especially an intangible asset: Intangibles are hard to value.

    By the way, if you are trying to argue that conscience is also a REAL THING, meaning tangible - speaking for myself - I find that "a wee bit weak".

    conscience ; ( http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/conscience )
    - definition -
    con·science [kon-shuhns] Show IPA
    noun
    1.
    the inner sense of what is right or wrong in one's conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action: to follow the dictates of conscience.
    2.
    the complex of ethical and moral principles that controls or inhibits the actions or thoughts of an individual.
    3.
    an inhibiting sense of what is prudent: I'd eat another piece of pie but my conscience would bother me.
    4.
    conscientiousness.
    5.
    Obsolete . consciousness; self-knowledge.
    6.
    Obsolete . strict and reverential observance.

    Evil is a WORD, often used to describe something intangible.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2013
  23. Ripley Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,411
    I think one first has to establish from what point in the social structure does an individual assume self-entitlement to across-the-board decision-making "for the greater good".

    My point is, social institutions (government, military, finance, science, church, etc) are entities with particular agendas; agendas that have evolved over decades, sometimes centuries, of self-interest roadwork. "The greater good" is simply good PR. If for example, God forbid, the planet were to wage a nuclear war, who do you think would benefit from underground bunkers? The .001 percent perhaps — regardless of moral character?
     

Share This Page