Lost in Translation

The Advantage of Evil

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Just pointing out some facts. the first has been mentioned before in the thread.

Good/Evil  are human-centric terms. They have no context outside human societies. There is no way to define them besides human beings without referring to an outside source/law/superior entity or whatever anyone believes. IMHO you must mention whether you are talking about evil in a secular frame or evil in theological frame. The answer is different in each case.

 

Evil as we commonly define it in the western world can arise from ignorance besides intention. For example if a drunk driver hits a pedestrian and kills him/her, he has just committed an evil act though he had no intention to do so.

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No - the problem of evil extends far beyond human societies to all social animals. There is a fundamental tension between the interests a social animal has in its defence of and contribution to its own life and well being and in its defence of and contribution to the "society" it is part of and depends on. Evil generally refers to the actions of those animals (including humans) that completely (or almost completely) ignore the interests of the society they are part of. There is nothing exclusively human about that.

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55 minutes ago, wandelaar said:

No - the problem of evil extends far beyond human societies to all social animals. There is a fundamental tension between the interests a social animal has in its defence of and contribution to its own life and well being and in its defence of and contribution to the "society" it is part of and depends on. Evil generally refers to the actions of those animals (including humans) that completely (or almost completely) ignore the interests of the society they are part of. There is nothing exclusively human about that.

Unfortunately you are wrong.

Sexual abuse/rape of minors/adults is a fact in hominids and dolphins.

Mostly done to pass the genes when conventional means to mate have failed. What makes it evil in this context?

Seen in a vacuum that's good because it ensures genetic diversity and promotes the survival of the species as a whole.

Disclaimer

I am not claiming that rape and abuse are natural and acceptable processes, i am just pointing out the flaws behind the reasoning.

And if you are talking about superorganisms in general, the clash between two hives of bees of the same species is detrimental to the survival of the species but is commonplace. What makes this evil?

Edited by Zork
Additions

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@ Zork

 

Because evil is a rather vague concept one cannot expect reasoning about it to be correct without there being many exceptions. That's why I wrote:

 

Quote

Evil generally refers to the actions of those animals (including humans) that completely (or almost completely) ignore the interests of the society they are part of.

 

(Colour added.)

 

The reason I corrected your standpoint is because you wrongly suppose ethics (or the ability to recognize good and evil) to be something exclusively human. Further I don't understand what you are trying to prove with the examples given. Do you think there is an objective standard of "evil" even in the animal kingdom that has to be met by any theory of evil? No -  as I said evil is a vague concept, and I don't think it can ever be made precise even in the case of humans. But some form of evil can be seen in all social animals.

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The reason I corrected your standpoint is because you wrongly suppose ethics (or the ability to recognize good and evil) to be something exclusively human.




Not only ethics is a human trait, it is diverse between human society as well. In Aztec society human sacrifice was a moral and acceptable standard way of appeasing the gods. In pre medieval turkish tribes a woman who was offered sex by anyone should accept or she was considered immoral. What you are confusing is morality with goodness.




Further I don't understand what you are trying to prove with the examples given. Do you think there is an objective standard of "evil" even in the animal kingdom that has to be met by any theory of evil?




In the first case rape is considered evil by human society but it may benefit an animal society by passing genes.
In the second case an interspecies war and enslavement of the losers (it happens like that in bees) is evil by human standards and also temporarily benefits the victor but in the long run is to the detriment of both. This answers the following "Evil generally refers to the actions of those animals (including humans) that completely (or almost completely) ignore the interests of the society they are part of. There is nothing exclusively human about that. ".
In both these examples there is psychological and physical damage to the animals that ignores the interests of their society but none of it can be defined as evil.




No - as I said evil is a vague concept, and I don't think it can ever be made precise even in the case of humans. But some form of evil can be seen in all social animals.




Sorry no. We agree that evil is a vague concept but evil is not seen in social animals. Animals can't understand the evil/good division. They only understand what satisfies their instincts and act accordingly. Furthermore animals don't have the feeling of hate and don't exhibit sadism.

Edit
Let's agree to disagree on the last one. I don't see me changing my mind on that one nor should you. Also it is beside the point. Humans aren't animals entirely so what stands for animals isn't the same for humans.

Edited by Zork
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I see we are still having a problem defining evil.  I doubt there will ever be majority agreement.  And I would agree that we humans have defined certain acts as being evil while in the rest of the animal kingdom nearly all acts are beyond good and evil.

 

 

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Evil is required for life to be real.
Without true hazard there is not true life.
If you really enter the light the reward is very great indeed, not just words.

 

I get the feeling that many people are asking and answering from the veneer of themselves.

 

Wu-wei is not ... not doing anything.    Wells have to be dug.   And life's challenges met, only then will you be the hand of life as it grows.   When you are asked you will dig unremittingly and when the work is done it is forgotten, then it lasts forever.

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5 hours ago, Zork said:

IMHO you must mention whether you are talking about evil in a secular frame or evil in theological frame.

 

Hi Zork,

 

Welcome to the Bums! Thank you for jumping into the thread.

 

In this context I am referring to the evil that is the result of conscious choice. For example, a person wants to grow in his career so he chooses to smear his opponents and engages in unethical business practices for the sole purpose of destroying his enemies so he may advance. In this example the person knows that such actions will cause great harm to many people and may even drive some to lose their homes, ruin their marriages, or result in suicides and the person just does not care. If you would like to discuss coincidental evil (such as well-meaning legislation that purports to help people but actually causes great harm to them) then you may do that as well, but that's more of an "evil-light" (less calories) in my opinion.

 

LiT

 

Edited by Lost in Translation

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8 hours ago, CityHermit! said:

 

I believe you are referring to this passage?

 

Quote

Under heaven all can see beauty as beauty only because there is ugliness. 
All can know good as good only because there is evil.

 

That is what I am getting at, but whereas the above says "All can know good as good only because there is evil" I am positing that "One can be good only because one can be evil". It's a subtle distinction but I think it's important.

 

Let's pivot to Jesus' story of the Prodigal Son. In this case there were two sons, one "good" and one "evil". The good son always obeyed his father. The evil son demanded his share of his father's estate and took off to the city where he partied, drank, whored and engaged in other debauchery. Years passed and the prodigal son was broke and suffering on the streets so he bandied his courage and chose to come home and submit himself to his father's will, expecting that his father would hate him. Instead, his father welcomed him with open arms and lavished him with love. The good son was jealous since he had always been good, but the truth is the good son had never been "good" - he had only been "obedient". Upon his return and subsequent redemption it is the prodigal son who was truly good, since it was he who knew what it was like to be evil.

 

The same story, by the way, applies to Yahweh, Michael, and Lucifer - but I don't want to get off track.

 

 

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5 minutes ago, Lost in Translation said:

 

I believe you are referring to this passage?

 

 

That is what I am getting at, but whereas the above says "All can know good as good only because there is evil" I am positing that "One can be good only because one can be evil". It's a subtle distinction but I think it's important.

 

Let's pivot to Jesus' story of the Prodigal Son. In this case there were two sons, one "good" and one "evil". The good son always obeyed his father. The evil son demanded his share of his father's estate and took off to the city where he partied, drank, whored and engaged in other debauchery. Years passed and the prodigal son was broke and suffering on the streets so he bandied his courage and chose to come home and submit himself to his father's will, expecting that his father would hate him. Instead, his father welcomed him with open arms and lavished him with love. The good son was jealous since he had always been good, but the truth is the good son had never been "good" - he had only been "obedient". Upon his return and subsequent redemption it is the prodigal son who was truly good, since it was he who knew what it was like to be evil.

 

The same story, by the way, applies to Yahweh, Michael, and Lucifer - but I don't want to get off track.

 

 

Yes

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1 hour ago, rideforever said:

Evil is required for life to be real.
Without true hazard there is not true life.

 

You make an interesting observation. Would you please explain more about this?

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11 minutes ago, Lost in Translation said:

You make an interesting observation. Would you please explain more about this?

 

Why don't you hazard to ... expand on this idea.  Right now.

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6 minutes ago, rideforever said:

 

Why don't you hazard to ... expand on this idea.  Right now.

He is giving you a chance to explain yourself. A little more effort is required to bring your thoughts into the written language. try agian

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18 minutes ago, Lost in Translation said:
1 hour ago, rideforever said:

Evil is required for life to be real.
Without true hazard there is not true life.

 

You make an interesting observation. Would you please explain more about this?

 

6 minutes ago, rideforever said:

Why don't you hazard to ... expand on this idea.  Right now.

 

You wrote that "evil is required for life to be real" and then implied that evil is a "true hazard". I'm curious how evil is a hazard. What is the nature of this hazard? How does this hazard manifest? On whom does this hazard inflict itself? 

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1 minute ago, Lost in Translation said:

 

 

Hmm.   In your original question you talk quite generally about situations, like a stockbrocker doing trading, and so on.   You talk of the externals of the act and person but not about what is happening to him personally, where he is with his heart.   This makes me think that you do not have much experience with life and so imagine it from a distance.

 

If you are a parent ... how is it with your child ?
The child has an opportunity to be good, you would encourage that, but he might choose bad.
He is alive after all, so there are choices.   Both ends must be open or nothing can live.
The child in certain circumstances might go bad, choose badly, and become a person  that help and light cannot reach.
Then he is lost and suffers until death.
When existence relieves him and its over.
I have heard that some individuals by their choices suffer far beyond death.

I don't know who you are, but I expect that if you are more in touch with life, you see fear and pain  in the eyes of a person, and so on, and that you yourself make more spontaneous decisions and explore your own sides through taking risks .... that the question of evil will come home to you, and be less theoretical.

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25 minutes ago, rideforever said:

 In your original question you talk quite generally about situations, like a stockbrocker doing trading, and so on.   You talk of the externals of the act and person but not about what is happening to him personally, where he is with his heart. 

 

On 7/27/2018 at 7:35 AM, Lost in Translation said:

Some examples: A businessman who grows wealthy by engaging in inside trading; A politician who gains office by lying about his opponent; An athlete who wins a competition by cheating; A cultist who gains a loyal following by preying upon the weakness and fears of believers.

 

Are you  referring to this? You are correct, I have not delved into what is in the hearts of these hypothetical people, at least not in my original post. Since you ask me to do so I will.

 

As I see it there are two basic modes in which a person can operate: conscious and unconscious. A conscious person who engages in evil can be thought of as evil. This is the person who knows that they are causing harm, knows that they have a choice that will not cause harm and chooses the pathway that does cause harm out of expediency or fun or whatever. An unconscious person who engages in evil is a sort of grey area. They may not realize the harm they cause, or perhaps they feel they have no choice in the matter.

 

 

25 minutes ago, rideforever said:

The child has an opportunity to be good, you would encourage that, but he might choose bad.
He is alive after all, so there are choices.   Both ends must be open or nothing can live.
The child in certain circumstances might go bad, choose badly, and become a person  that help and light cannot reach.
Then he is lost and suffers until death.
When existence relieves him and its over.
I have heard that some individuals by their choices suffer far beyond death.

 

I have several members of my family who have had very rough lives, spent time addicted to drugs, been in prison, etc. I understand what it is like to watch someone you care for suffer through their own choices. It is painful and if this is something that you have experienced too then my heart goes out to you.

 

25 minutes ago, rideforever said:

I don't know who you are

 

That is correct, you do not know me. But I am very honest with my writings and you are welcome to learn more about me if you so desire.

 

Edited by Lost in Translation
grammar

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3 minutes ago, Lost in Translation said:

 

 

Perhaps your question is something like why does a stockbroker who cheats succeed ?
Well does he succeed ?  There was that film with Leonardo di Caprio .... those people money-rich though they might have been were not in a good state internally.

If you ... have good work to do, no matter the nature or the difficulty or the "level" .... then when you sit down to eat you will feel good.   You have earned your food and sleep well.   Today you were a good and noble member of this existence.

 

The contrast of good and bad is required for learning.
Real suffering is required for real hope.
A parent doesn't help the children too much because it harms them, they must learn or there will be more pain later.
For their own safety they must learn, and the hard way is normally the way.

To engage in life and engage in this kind of learning indicates that this being has developed enough intelligence to begin.
Others drift through life untouched, they are below the threshold to begin and nothing is ventured.

It is no good turning to God too early, you wont have the stamina persistence desperation or understanding to stay.   Someone not ready can get ready by getting stuck into the experiences of life.

 

Many people who we are taught by this society that they are winning ... are just a total mess inside, like the celebrities hanging themselves in closets and so on.

 

Existence has its own rules and if you wish to be close to existence it will be with you always.
It will guide you teach you nourish you.   
Would you like to take these lessons ?
Tomorrow the Sun will rise and there are lessons, small and big, obvious and hidden, but there is a great joy to being a student.
To know the road, to love your teacher, to succeed, to fail, but continue.
We can be happy to be taught, life is so wonderful, please another lesson.
And when you have learnt enough then you participate in teaching or higher levels.
Then your competence that you have made within yourself becomes of service.
And it is the same if you are a husband and your competence shelters your family.

 

Have you done something evil ?  Perhaps yes, perhaps looking back you see that you were terrified or confused or indulging in justifications.   Perhaps existence also taught you the error of your ways.

 

Life is alive.   Existence is scattering seeds in many places, like right here.
It is learning as well, everything is learning everything is growing.
Everything is a hazard.
Existence does not know why it is here, but like us he lives and learns, gives and receives.

Existence needs you, needs your help for this project of light.
But ... if it helps you too much how can you grow, how can you help ?
One day we have to look ourselves in the mirror and say, I wish to be.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
 

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24 minutes ago, rideforever said:

 

Perhaps your question is something like why does a stockbroker who cheats succeed ?
Well does he succeed ?  There was that film with Leonardo di Caprio .... those people money-rich though they might have been were not in a good state internally.

If you ... have good work to do, no matter the nature or the difficulty or the "level" .... then when you sit down to eat you will feel good.   You have earned your food and sleep well.   Today you were a good and noble member of this existence.

 

The contrast of good and bad is required for learning.
Real suffering is required for real hope.
A parent doesn't help the children too much because it harms them, they must learn or there will be more pain later.
For their own safety they must learn, and the hard way is normally the way.

To engage in life and engage in this kind of learning indicates that this being has developed enough intelligence to begin.
Others drift through life untouched, they are below the threshold to begin and nothing is ventured.

It is no good turning to God too early, you wont have the stamina persistence desperation or understanding to stay.   Someone not ready can get ready by getting stuck into the experiences of life.

 

Many people who we are taught by this society that they are winning ... are just a total mess inside, like the celebrities hanging themselves in closets and so on.

 

Existence has its own rules and if you wish to be close to existence it will be with you always.
It will guide you teach you nourish you.   
Would you like to take these lessons ?
Tomorrow the Sun will rise and there are lessons, small and big, obvious and hidden, but there is a great joy to being a student.
To know the road, to love your teacher, to succeed, to fail, but continue.
We can be happy to be taught, life is so wonderful, please another lesson.
And when you have learnt enough then you participate in teaching or higher levels.
Then your competence that you have made within yourself becomes of service.
And it is the same if you are a husband and your competence shelters your family.

 

Have you done something evil ?  Perhaps yes, perhaps looking back you see that you were terrified or confused or indulging in justifications.   Perhaps existence also taught you the error of your ways.

 

Life is alive.   Existence is scattering seeds in many places, like right here.
It is learning as well, everything is learning everything is growing.
Everything is a hazard.
Existence does not know why it is here, but like us he lives and learns, gives and receives.

Existence needs you, needs your help for this project of light.
But ... if it helps you too much how can you grow, how can you help ?
One day we have to look ourselves in the mirror and say, I wish to be.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
 

 

There are many good observations here.  Thank you for this. :)

 

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3 hours ago, Lost in Translation said:

 

Hi Zork,

 

Welcome to the Bums! Thank you for jumping into the thread.

 

In this context I am referring to the evil that is the result of conscious choice. For example, a person wants to grow in his career so he chooses to smear his opponents and engages in unethical business practices for the sole purpose of destroying his enemies so he may advance. In this example the person knows that such actions will cause great harm to many people and may even drive some to lose their homes, ruin their marriages, or result in suicides and the person just does not care. If you would like to discuss coincidental evil (such as well-meaning legislation that purports to help people but actually causes great harm to them) then you may do that as well, but that's more of an "evil-light" (less calories) in my opinion.

 

LiT

 

Well in that case it's the secular one!

Human lives at least on a local level are interconnected in strange ways. Let's see what happens:

So he is engaging in a smear campaign=> one of his competitors has access to terrific lawyers and turns the campaign around suing for massive sums so the initiator of the campaign ends up bankrupt.

He is engaging is unethical practices=> he is snitched by a disgruntled employee who knows a lot and is paid little. He ends up in jail or fined to oblivion.

He ends up closing businesses so many people lose their jobs=> suddenly he is one of the few rich in a poor environment. He becomes a target for robberies and kidnappings. Also his children face danger from increased presence of drugs in school.

He has avoided all the above and lives in luxury=> he is bored. Drugs are used for recreation purposes but quickly turn to addiction. His marriage is falling apart because he spends so much time with hookers that his wife feels neglected. He has a lot of money but it isn't enough, so he must try to expand. He has his firm hostile takeovered and he ends up unemployed with a good check. He spends his money carelessly and half of it is his divorce settlement.

 

Do you envy this guy? I don't.

The more evil you do the more you increase the chances of some of the above happening. There is nothing metaphysical about that, just simple logic.

What wandelaar mentions is what many biologists repeatedly see nowadays: organisms that cooperate (like symbionts) have increased their chances of survival. Fierce competition ensures the fittest genes pass on but it doesn't guarantee survival.

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@ Zork

 

Well - it looks like our viewpoint are not so far apart after all. :)

Edited by wandelaar
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On 28/07/2018 at 12:35 AM, Lost in Translation said:

I wasn't sure whether to put this in General or Off Grid, so I split the difference and here we are.


I'd like to discuss the advantage of evil. By this I mean the advantage an individual receives towards the realization of their goals by being willing and able to act unethically and immorally.

 

Some examples: A businessman who grows wealthy by engaging in inside trading; A politician who gains office by lying about his opponent; An athlete who wins a competition by cheating; A cultist who gains a loyal following by preying upon the weakness and fears of believers.

 

It's commonly understood that evil will eventually lose. We see this trope appear again and again in    good storytelling and it does appear to hold    some truth in real life. Most people prefer to live in a good society and most criminals are eventually caught (for something, at least). But some evil people do flourish.

 

So I leave the topic at that. What is the advantage of evil?


 

 

 

Ware, nor of good nor ill, what aim hath act?
Without its climax, death, what savour hath
Life? an impeccable machine, exact
He paces an inane and pointless path
To glut brute appetites, his sole content
How tedious were he fit to comprehend
Himself! More, this our noble element
Of fire in nature, love in spirit, unkenned
Life hath no spring, no axle, and no end.

His body a bloody-ruby radiant
With noble passion, sun-souled Lucifer
Swept through the dawn colossal, swift aslant
On Eden's imbecile perimeter.
He blessed nonentity with every curse
And spiced with sorrow the dull soul of sense,
Breathed life into the sterile universe,
With Love and Knowledge drove out innocence
The Key of Joy is disobedience. 

lucifer_paradise_lost.jpg

 

Edited by Nungali
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1 hour ago, Nungali said:

 

 

Ware, nor of good nor ill, what aim hath act?
Without its climax, death, what savour hath
Life? an impeccable machine, exact
He paces an inane and pointless path
To glut brute appetites, his sole content
How tedious were he fit to comprehend
Himself! More, this our noble element
Of fire in nature, love in spirit, unkenned
Life hath no spring, no axle, and no end.

His body a bloody-ruby radiant
With noble passion, sun-souled Lucifer
Swept through the dawn colossal, swift aslant
On Eden's imbecile perimeter.
He blessed nonentity with every curse
And spiced with sorrow the dull soul of sense,
Breathed life into the sterile universe,
With Love and Knowledge drove out innocence
The Key of Joy is disobedience. 

lucifer_paradise_lost.jpg

 

 

 

 

george.jpg

Edited by zerostao

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