What is evil, what is good and what is bad?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by dreamstuff, Aug 14, 2002.

  1. dreamstuff Registered Member

    I am currently writing a philosophical dialogue about the nature of human beings, which unquestionably involves the qualities of good and evil. I am interested in seeing what you think each of these words inherently means. For example what is the difference between bad and evil? Do you think, for example, that evil-ness is a 'form' of bad?
    So what do they mean?

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  3. Squid Vicious Banned Banned

    You're working from a basis that good and evil actually exist outside our own beliefs... which I would disagree with from the outset. Therefore I have nothing to offer you.
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  5. Riomacleod Registered Senior Member

    Good and Bad as a philosophical dichotomy came about only relatively recently. Of course, we have all had good and bad apples, good and bad steaks, good and bad beds, and no one would try to say that the bad steak is an "evil" steak (oooOOooooooOOOoo... evil steak... blah!)... anyway, it has crept into philosophic language through Hedonism (although I don't think Bentham ever uses it, he certainly never uses the word evil) because there aren't any evil things anymore. There are pleasure things, and pain things, and when you get pleasure things it's good, and when you get pain things it's bad. (this is an oversimplfication... sort of).

    Grownups, however, have realized that there are evil actions, and even if they're fun, you shouldn't do them. We call those decisions evil. For instance, killing the guy next to you and eating him because you forgot lunch would be an evil act, irrespective of whether it is a good or bad thing to do.
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  7. Ender Registered Senior Member


    That's not nessicarly correct. It is only evil to us because we live in a socity that says its evil. I'm sure there used to have been civilizations in the early history that did kill people for food. In acient Mayn socity, killing and death wasn't really a big deal.

    A lot, if not all of our views come from our respective religons. Which are all relevivly the same. i.e. be nice to others...


    I would suggest that you argue the point that there is no "evil force" but that is is superemposed on socity by religion.
  8. bbcboy Recovering christian Registered Senior Member

    Good and evil are not too far from God and Devil
    I always wondered if this was coincidence or whether those words were derived from the entities they represent, maybe even vice versa.
    Only a thought I'm hung over and talking rubbish but I'm english so it's allowed

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  9. Xev Registered Senior Member

    *Raises an eyebrow*

    You call Bentham a hedonist?

    This is pure assertion. Why is it wrong for me to kill somone for bus change? There is no logical reason to say it is wrong, and the spectacle of trying to use objective logic to justify subjective morality is a bit silly.

    Even if there were a logical reason, what is the logical reason to accept logic as a guide?

    So I say, make your own morality. Sure, the world might suck if everyone was killing their neighbors for barbecque, but let's face it, the world already sucks.

    The worst atrocities have never been from one or two sick individuals running about killing people - the worst atrocities have occured with the blessing and sanction, and often the active support, of the herd.

    You can say "the big kids are moral, and ooooh oooh oh, I wanna be a big kid!" all you like, but that doesn't change the fact that good and evil are - well, they are simply labels.
  10. Riomacleod Registered Senior Member

    What else would you call Bentham?
    The first line of his book on Justice describes humanity being under direct control of two sovereign masters, Pleasure and Pain. Maybe I misunderstood? (I can pull the direct quote later tonight if you want it)

    What about morality is subjective?
  11. Xev Registered Senior Member

    Generally, a utilitarian.

    And we all know which soveriegn master controls us when we read Bentham.

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    You're right, but that doesn't seem like hedonism to me.

    What is hedonism to you?

    (B/W, he forgot the third soveriegn master - BOOOZE!)

    *Xev wanders away, reminding herself that enough caffine makes her silly*
  12. Riomacleod Registered Senior Member

    Bentham has always been presented to me as the father of hedonism. Hedonism (and it's likely that I might not have gotten a fair shake at it) has been presented to me as taking all the pleasures, and comparing to all the pains, and chosing the one that maximizes the pleasures and minimizes the pains. Although now that you say it, utilitarianism sounds familiar too. It's been 4 years since I have had to label anyone.
  13. A4Ever Knows where his towel is Registered Senior Member

    Hedonism was introduced by Epicurus, and it is not maximizing pleasure, it is minimizing pain.

    It has some buddhist connotations: our desires that are not fulfilled cause us grief, therefore we must minimize our desires.

    That is the good life for Epicurus.

    This shows the difference with Bentham. Bentham is maximizing pleasure. He weighs everything and then adds up the points to make a decision.

    You want to go to Tarzan with your little sister tonight?
    Tarzan: -5
    Giving your sister a good evening: +10
    Not being able to watch your favorite soap opera: -5
    Mother is happy that you take good care of your sister: +3

    Result: you go to the movie.

    You see these are very different aproaches as to how to live the good life.

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