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Good, Evil, And You


Soule
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good and evil seems to be a prominant issue in religious beliefs. theists speak of morality having devine origions, while others believe it is a concept origionating in the minds of man. however, that is not the topic this string was made to adress.

 

are the concepts of good and evil themselves self evident? it seems to me that all cultures have at least some concept of what morality is. so woulent that point to the possiblility of it being self evident? however, different cultures have different views of what is right vs. what is wrong, so that would be evidence against good and evil being self evident.

 

what do you believe? why?

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I think the concept of 'good and evil' based on their inherent relativity to each other is self evident, but that what one may classify as 'good' or 'evil' is extremely subjective. Cultures can play a role, however, this can also be seen on a strictly personal level.

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are the concepts of good and evil themselves self evident? it seems to me that all cultures have at least some concept of what morality is. so woulent that point to the possiblility of it being self evident? however, different cultures have different views of what is right vs. what is wrong, so that would be evidence against good and evil being self evident.

 

what do you believe? why?

 

The fact that all cultures do have some concept of morality doesn't point to it being self-evident. I think that because we are social beings, certain behaviours are genetically determined which point to a revulsion in killing people or stealing from them.

 

Cultures do have different views, but it all stems from a few core beliefs.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I like to look at good and evil as existing in much the same way as beauty and humor exist. They have no reality beyond the perceptions of those who observe them.

 

For example, pretty much everybody will agree that things like sunsets are beautiful, but that doesn't mean that someone couldn't honestly think that sunsets were ugly. The beauty is not inherent in the sunset itselt but in our perception of it.

 

Now, because there are many things that pretty much everyone will agree are beautiful, one might get the impression that beauty is self evident, but they would be mistaking popularity for objectivity.

 

The same goes for humor. Just because I think a joke is funny and you think the same joke is funny doesn't mean that the joke is inherently or objectively funny - just that I think its funny and you think its funny. In fact everyone who hears the joke may think its funny, but its still their perception of humor that makes them laugh.

 

Good and evil are labels that we apply to a huge collection of ideas and actions that stem from different origins. Some are instinctive, some are taught by parents and teachers, some we learn through individual social experiences and the rest are laid down by society. It is our ability to look at situations from different points of view and imagine what course of action would lead to the best possible results which leads us to define some actions as good (moral) or bad (evil/immoral). But, being human, we aren't all going to invision the same set of alternatives and we don't always have the same definition for "best results" so there will always be some differences in the way people perceive good and evil.

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But, being human, we aren't all going to invision the same set of alternatives and we don't always have the same definition for "best results" so there will always be some differences in the way people perceive good and evil.

 

Very good point.

 

I don't much believe in good & evil myself. Especially because it's so subjective. Yes, there are horribly bad actions & wonderfully good actions. But even the bad actions can't be termed evil because good things can come out of those 'evil' actions.

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Concepts like "good" and "evil" are entirely moot without society and culture to support their definitions.

 

You talked about many civilization having the same concepts of good and evil. But you really don't delve into why that is. You treat it like a given. It's not. There is a REASON.

 

What does it take for a group to function effectively as a whole? What does cooperation really mean? What needs are met by working together as opposed to seperately? What actions encourage cohesion, and what actions are likely to tear it apart?

 

Look at social animal groups and ask the same questions. The answers are surprisingly the same. The "ten commandments" christianity would have you live by? No damn mystery at all once you learn how social beings function.

 

Take a few anthropology courses if you can. Cultural Anthropology in particular.

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I like to look at good and evil as existing in much the same way as beauty and humor exist. They have no reality beyond the perceptions of those who observe them.

 

For example, pretty much everybody will agree that things like sunsets are beautiful, but that doesn't mean that someone couldn't honestly think that sunsets were ugly. The beauty is not inherent in the sunset itselt but in our perception of it.

 

Now, because there are many things that pretty much everyone will agree are beautiful, one might get the impression that beauty is self evident, but they would be mistaking popularity for objectivity.

 

The same goes for humor. Just because I think a joke is funny and you think the same joke is funny doesn't mean that the joke is inherently or objectively funny - just that I think its funny and you think its funny. In fact everyone who hears the joke may think its funny, but its still their perception of humor that makes them laugh.

 

Good and evil are labels that we apply to a huge collection of ideas and actions that stem from different origins. Some are instinctive, some are taught by parents and teachers, some we learn through individual social experiences and the rest are laid down by society. It is our ability to look at situations from different points of view and imagine what course of action would lead to the best possible results which leads us to define some actions as good (moral) or bad (evil/immoral). But, being human, we aren't all going to invision the same set of alternatives and we don't always have the same definition for "best results" so there will always be some differences in the way people perceive good and evil.

Wonderfully stated. I think where a religious system of a top-down belief of good and evil becomes a problem is that is does not allow for the differences in the way people percieve ideas of good and evil, or even beauty for that matter. Yes, to some the sunset may invoke terror instead of wonder and awe. To them it symbolizes the beginning of night where the predictors come out of the forest to seek him out as their next meal! The sunset inspires fear.

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