Saturday, June 25, 2011

What is Evil? 1

I have a swirl of thoughts that I've trying to organize.

1. Evil has to do with motive and intent.  Many "bad" things happen that are not evil.  Similarly, we can do many things with "bad" consequences without evil intent.

2. Evil intent is that which is contrary to the love command--when we act intentionally to harm others or do not act to help when we easily could have.

3. Loving God is a difficult category to clarify, because here we are prone to smuggle in a lot of do's and don'ts that work contrary to love of neighbor or are context-specific.  So the command to love God principally manifests itself in our love of others.  However, there is also an element of "self-displacement" involved in loving God.  There are patterns of behavior that do not strictly harm others but which are self-oriented in a way that is not virtuous.

4. "Bad" has more than anything to do with consequences, not least causing human pain.  We can broaden such pain to causing the creation pain.  However, this is a tricky thing to spell out.  Pain can serve a good purpose.  It can teach us to avoid certain things. Death is not evil but natural. Humanity as a species currently has a generally harmful effect on the planet.  But since we are a part of nature, is it natural?

some thoughts trying to get my juices flowing...

12 comments:

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I read recently where a university's policy regarding "hacking" into a computor could be justified for "good purposes". This is also the case for national security reasons. What could be the reason to "hack" into another's computor, but to "catch" or reveal behavior that is seen as inappropriate?

All of us have our convictions about appropriate and inappropriate behavior. This is what drives our conflicts, because we differ about where the lines should be drawn and how we understand and see the political.

Humans tend to behave as "mobs" unless limited by rational principles, which is the law. No one, even "God" is above the law (though God seems to act many times "above the law" in scripture).

Just the other day, someone posted an article by Max Weber on types of authority/government. Legal, traditional, and charismatic were the categories.

The law in our country was to prevent "evil", protect the individual in thier pursuit of happiness, otherwise tradition or charismatic "enthusiasm" would cause "harm" and "pain" for the sake of "God". This is the culprit of "evil", group think and group behavior! Read, "Becoming Evil" (how ordinary people do evil)....

The most evil I have experienced has been affliated with religion!

Angie Van De Merwe said...

"Intent" doesn't justify acting "above the law", in my opinion! Otherwise, just as we see happening in our government, people can do some mighty arrogant things, in the name and for the sake of "the good"!

Ken Schenck said...

Neither intent nor law are perfect. There is a time to break the law for conscience sake, but one must be willing to face the consequences. One may also mis-perceive his or her own intent as well, thinking or claiming to have good intent while being self-deceived.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Misperception of intent is often the case, that is why it is best to acknowledge "interests" up front and negotiate if there are different interests!!! there are no "ideal" solutions, regarding conflicts of interests, only survival of interests, ambitions, dreams and hopes. Acknowledgement is a form of ownership and self-reflection. This is why "Christianizing" one's life, ambition, goals, values, etc. is dangerous!! Because it "sanctifies" them without acknowledging that there will be differences, that are just as valid...

One's political philosophy is how one sees the world and it impacts all the person thinks, does, and pursues. And whichever side or however one views one's choices of value will always have "pros and cons"...that is important to acknowledge, too.

Robert said...

Over the years I've known five people I'd be comfortable about categorising as 'evil'. Two were trolls who took a great deal of pleasure in stirring up trouble for others, and had a good deal of success. One was a bully who made trouble for anyone who stood up to him, one spent his life terrorising and exploiting vulnerable Council tenants - and had a diagnosis of severe personality disorder - and the last was a serious war criminal who was shot on orders from Chales Taylor, whose trial at the Hague finished recently. I wouldn't categorise one as more evil than another; the differences were a matter of opportunity and the extent to which they were able to function in society.

Ken Schenck said...

I'm wanting to talk more about evil intent, something I suspect almost everyone has at least from time to time.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Evil intent has to do with keeping secrets from others, that have a right to know; not acting in transparency toward those that are supposed to be "on your team"; using others to fulfill your own desires apart from their consent; denying others a right of choice; denying others the right to differ....it is a controlling and manipulative attitude that hides under the guise of "leadership", but is authoritairan, dominating and opinionated without an acknowledgment of opinions (Truth is their viewpoint and it is theirs, alone!)...

Ken Schenck said...

Sounds like "love your neighbor as yourself" and "Do to others as you would have them do to you." ;-)

Patrick said...

I take issue with the view "man has been harmful to earth".

Imagine earth with no humanity at all.

Every living thing would have died out. Trees and bushes would have crowded each other out with no "human pruning".

Dead forest would suffocate any new growth.

Animals would be to the point of destroying each other in the fight for diminishing food supplies w/o human intervention.

Man's intellect that God gave us and survival instinct inadvertently assists the rest of creation largely.

Sure, we make errors, w/o mankind earth by now would be barren as Sarah's womb was before it was resurrected.

Rick said...

Evil= Seeking out to rebel against and fight God,thus incorrectly fighting certain neighbors.

Or hoping for harm against innocent others/neighbors, thus rebelling against and fighting God.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Survival means that one fights those that oppose you. Otherwise, we have no national security, or resitance to evil.

And resitance to evil is resisting those that differ from what we assume is "righteous"(action) or a "better view" (belief) (which equals one's political views/stances on issues. So, there will always be "wars and rumors of wars", as humankind will never come to agree on all issues, as long as there is liberty of conscience. Dictatorships, tyrannical groups dictate what everyone must do/believe, etc.....

Patrick said...

Evil = Satan's protocol and plans. Which may not appear so bad at times, but, always is.

Grace = God's protocols and plans.

????