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Never asked question: Forsaken Inn Common Room edition

Inderjit S

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For me, evil is the deliberate commission of harm.
Good lord Barliman, aren't you going to back up your idea with a mindlessley long post glibly pointing out the various manifestations of evil before coming to a boring conclusion? ;) I must be getting old, because that is clearly the way to go. :D
 

Arthur_Vandelay

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Thanks, Inder, for your response. You define evil here in "relative" terms: (i) in the sense of being the "diametric opposite of good," and (ii) in the sense of being a label that we can apply to something of which we vehemently disapprove (such as, for example, Hitler's thoughts and deeds--something of which I imagine most of us would vehemently disapprove).

(i) raises the further question: What is goodness?
(ii) is problematic (through no fault of your own, of course: this is how "evil" is commonly used) insofar as while most of us would have no reservations about applying the label "evil" to Hitler's thoughts and deeds, there are some who would also apply the term "evil" to abortion, same-sex marriage, the "wardrobe malfunction," and so forth (even if they might not perceive all of these to be "evil" in the same degree). For example, Pope John Paul II labelled endeavours to legalise same-sex marriage part of "a new ideology of evil."

So I suppose what I'm asking is this: is there--or can there be--a positive definition of "evil?" Is there a positive definition of "goodness?"
 

Barliman Butterbur

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Inderjit S said:
Good lord Barliman, aren't you going to back up your idea with a mindlessley long post glibly pointing out the various manifestations of evil before coming to a boring conclusion? ;) I must be getting old, because that is clearly the way to go. :D
I just wanted to get a rise out you. ;) All right just for you, I'll qualify the statement further: Evil is someone deliberately harming another, as opposed to its being some sort of force that exists outside of human behavior. Evil as opposed to tragedy: If an avalanche buries a ski resort and everyone in it as a manifestation of nature, it's a tragedy. If the avalanche was deliberately started by someone, then it's an act of evil.

And its opposite is "good": the deliberate commission of a benefit from one person upon another. If I find a $50 bill on the sidewalk, that's a bit of good luck; if you deliberately put it there for me to find, that's an an act of charity — of goodness. "Good" and "evil" exist as manifestations of man's behavior, sez I.

That man is loathe to claim responsibility for his behavior at both ends of the spectrum seems to be part of his nature. He credits God for "good" and blames Satan for "evil."

And since AV brought up abortion, I might as well weigh in on that too.

First of all, abortion is many times the body's decision to expel the fetus when something has gone irreparably wrong. But murdering a doctor who performs an abortion — that's something else again. That to me is murder in the service of an extreme position of illogic. The position of never allowing an abortion under any circumstance is just ridiculous. There are times when, IMO, abortions should be done: when the mother's pregnancy is the result of rape; when the mother's life is in danger; when the child is monstrously deformed and/or retarded to the point where it would have no independent life, where it would hate itself for being as it is, and hate its parents for allowing it to live. The thing is, as far as I know, those against abortions have little to say about what is to be done with the child after it has been born. Who's going to raise it? What kind of life will it have?

And this raises still another question: how long are we going to be able to keep this worldwide situation going where births far outnumber deaths? What are we to do with all these people, and how are they going to be fed, and how are they going to make a living, and what will their lifestyle be?

As far as I'm concerned we have about 4 billion people on the planet too many as it is — and counting — to say nothing of the vast numbers of pigs and cattle and their concomitant planetary pollution and deforestation. But that discussion is probably for another thread. (Perhaps "Soylent Green" is our inevitable fate...)

Barley
 
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chrysophalax

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For some reason what comes to my mind here by way of comparison is the Terry Schaivo case. Now...look at the one things that seemed to raise so many people's ire. She was denied sustenance. It would be considered an evil thing to deliberately starve a healthy, adult human to death...I think we can agree on this.

Terry was denied sustenance because she had no quality of life, nor any prospect for one. Therefore, after a short period of time, she died. Many of us would call this merciful (good) as she was no longer suffering.

The act was the same in both cases, the denial of food. But with markedly different motives. What I'm getting at is, it's not the actions themselves, but the motivations behind them. Is harm and/or pain the end desire...or is kindness and mercy?

Good and Evil, many of us are taught are absolutes. However, at least in my case, I've been astounded at how fuzzy the demarcation line between the two is. It almost becomes an act of will in some situations not to allow the two concepts to merge.
 

Inderjit S

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(i) raises the further question: What is goodness?
(ii) is problematic (through no fault of your own, of course: this is how "evil" is commonly used) insofar as while most of us would have no reservations about applying the label "evil" to Hitler's thoughts and deeds, there are some who would also apply the term "evil" to abortion, same-sex marriage, the "wardrobe malfunction," and so forth (even if they might not perceive all of these to be "evil" in the same degree). For example, Pope John Paul II labelled endeavours to legalise same-sex marriage part of "a new ideology of evil."
You are right in saying evil is relative since evil is a mannish concept-Mens opinions are always relative. Evil is defined by the definer and each man has his own concept as to what evil is. There are, as you say, lesser evils from the mundane to the more important, but they are still lesser evils in that there is a degree of amibguity about them. But I think that there are perhaps greater, more universal evils. Murder for example. I am not talking about killing another person-you may kill another person for self-defence etc., I am talking about cold blooded murder-the taking of another persons life when you have no authority to do so.
 

spirit

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I don't see how love for _others_ is an illusion whereas love for _god_ is true when we have no idea whether god exists-
That, my friend, is called Faith! Blind faith or not, it IS faith. I trust God with my whole heart, and I don’t ever doubt him.

you cannot say that god exists and you know it is a infallible fact,
God does exist. And I may not have factual poof about that, but I don’t see the fact that the non-existence of God has been proven. I’m one of those odd people who likes believing on some non-proven facts... :p

Love and hate are both in the eye of the beholder. I’m not a fan of pink, which is what you’d expect more girls to like, but that does not make me any less of a girl. So colours are an illusion; same way, everyone has their own perception about what love and hate are.
Most people tend to confuse real love for lust.

To claim that good, evil and love are not actualities because we exist on the physical plain is also a fallacy. They exist-just look around you. For example, Hitler was evil. His deeds and thought were evil.
The physical plane is the one you, me and everyone one else is in. We don’t really know that evil was really there? It’s just an illusion what we see/feel. It’s like when someone came one day and said: “Oh, Black’s a dark colour, I’m going to classify it as evil.” What Hitler did, people have classified it as good and evil. Hitler did what he did because it was his Karma. There’s no way that you can change your Karma. The only think one has the power of manipulating is the way that they react to it. In his mind’s eye, he perceive it as the “right” thing. Personally, I don’t really agree with what he did, but then again, I shouldn’t be judging because I’m not perfect. If I were perfect, I’d be God. :D
 

Barliman Butterbur

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spirit said:
God does exist. And I may not have factual poof about that, but I don’t see the fact that the non-existence of God has been proven. I’m one of those odd people who likes believing on some non-proven facts... :p
Interesting points! I don't understand how you can say that God exists even though it's never been proven, that is a non sequitur. You cure the non sequitur by going on to give the other side of it: The existence of God hasn't been proven either.

I have profound respect (and even envy) for all those whose deep belief in God drives them to lead a moral and ethical life, one of kindness, compassion and caring for others. That is religion at its best; that is religion fulfilling its ultimate purpose. But it doesn't prove the existence of God! :)

Barley
 

joxy

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Inderjit S said:
Well I must stop as I think I may have sent everybody to sleep!
Sleep could never be inspired by someone who can begin a discourse with Jersad and Zadig, of whom I have never heard, continue with erudite references to Kirkegaarde and Dostoevski, with whom, unfortunately, I am familiar, go on to link Hitler with Plato, and end with Theodosius (who he?!) and (Saint?) Ambrose! Brilliant, and so young!

B B: I didn't read Spirit's comments on the lack of formal proofs of God's existence, or non-existence, quite the way you did, as consitituting a non-sequitur.
 

Inderjit S

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That, my friend, is called Faith! Blind faith or not, it IS faith. I trust God with my whole heart, and I don’t ever doubt him.
I do too, but that doesn't mean I see my love for others as an illusion; my love for others is as concrete as it is for god, perhaps more so-neither should detract from the other and all that should matter is that it is love.

Love and hate are both in the eye of the beholder. I’m not a fan of pink, which is what you’d expect more girls to like, but that does not make me any less of a girl. So colours are an illusion; same way, everyone has their own perception about what love and hate are.
Relativism doesn't mean love and hate are illusions it means they are relative (sorry for sounding tautological)-everything is relative in the eyes of man, even god. Colours do not define the girl, the girls define the girl-pink is merely a colour which girls tend to like.

Most people tend to confuse real love for lust
That was pretty profound. It made me sit up and think about it. :D (And I agree wholeheartedly. :))

Hitler did what he did because it was his Karma. There’s no way that you can change your Karma
We are humans-we have a free will, we are not puppets of karma, but puppets of our own will and liberty, however paradoxical that may sound. I have discussions like this with my uncle. :D Your karma is just Calvinism without Calvin.

[/QUOTE]Sleep could never be inspired by someone who can begin a discourse with Jersad and Zadig, of whom I have never heard, continue with erudite references to Kirkegaarde and Dostoevski, with whom, unfortunately, I am familiar, go on to link Hitler with Plato, and end with Theodosius (who he?!) and (Saint?) Ambrose! Brilliant, and so young!
Thank you. :) Jersad and Zadig are characters in Voltaire's "Zadig". Theodosius was a Roman Emperor who had a dispute with a Greek tribe, the Thessalonians. He then invited them to dinner and slaughtered them. Bishop Ambrose was aghast and he ordered Theodosius to repent, but Theodosius told him that King David committed homicide for love, (though Theodosius did it for pride and because one of his military commanders had been killed my them) to which Bishop Ambrose told him that since he replicated David's crime he would replicate David's penance-which involved dressing like a beggar and asking for the pardon of Ambrose.
 

spirit

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I've been wondering the reason of evil...

...and the other day, I found a book by Paramhansa Yogananda, called "Why God Permits Evil". Is said:

"Good and evil must ever be complents on this earth. Everything created must bear some guise of imperfection. How else could God, the Sole Perfection, fragment His one consciousness into forms of creation distinguishable from Himself. There can be no images of light without contrasting shadows. Unless evil had been created, man would not know the opposite of good. Night brings out the bright contrast of day; sorrow teaches us the desirability of joy. Though evil must come, woe to him by whom it comes. He who is enticed by delusion to play the villans part must suffer the villan's sad karmic fate, whilst the hero recieves the hallowed reward of his virtue. knowing this truth, we must shun evil; becoming good, we ultimately rise to God's high estate- beyond both and bad."

That was fairly interesting; although I don't think that God created evil. IMO, it's more as though his creation seem to "stray" away from the path of good (due to free will).There's individual differences to take into account.

A certain action may be considered as good by one person, but totally evil by another person. Everyone had their unique opinion. The thought's accompany an action. With Inderjit's example about Jersad and Zadig's example, Jersad set fire to the Sage's house for a reason, not just for "Oh, lets have some fun. :rolleyes: " pointless reason.

Also, I ask myself, was the view of good and evil there from the beginning or did it gradually grow?
It's hard to imagine good and evil when there were no humans in the world. There may have been nature before the existance of humans, and nature is neutral. (Me and my Wiccan views... :)) Balance.

So, if the humans came, and decided to split things up into good and evil, surely its never going to be flawless!

For me, evil is the deliberate commission of harm.
Does the situation now have importance?
Killing another human being is considered to be wrong. What if you were in this situation:
- Man with a gun, threatening to kill 10 innocents.
- You had a weapon
- what would you do? Would you shoot the guy to save the 10 victims?
(And don't even think about saying you'd just hurt him enough because he's wearing full body armour with one very weak spot. And you're a good shooter with all that ps2 you've been playing...)

And now to conclude, I - Oh, look, a dime! :D
 

Hammersmith

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Barliman Butterbur said:
Interesting points! I don't understand how you can say that God exists even though it's never been proven, that is a non sequitur. You cure the non sequitur by going on to give the other side of it: The existence of God hasn't been proven either.
Ah, but by the same token, saying that God doesn't exist (which I don't know if you have in this post) has also not been proven. Were you saying that? Besides, I would argue that one man's proof is another man's folly. Which brings us to the question "what is reality", and a whole bunch of equally unwinnable arguments.

Barliman Butterbur said:
I have profound respect (and even envy) for all those whose deep belief in God drives them to lead a moral and ethical life, one of kindness, compassion and caring for others. That is religion at its best; that is religion fulfilling its ultimate purpose. But it doesn't prove the existence of God! :)

Barley
And to that (aside from pointing out that it does not disprove God's existence) I would point out that from my perspective at least, the moral and ethical life is the symptom of belief, and not the cause. It is the fruit of a walk with God, and not even the most important fruit.
 

Barliman Butterbur

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Hammersmith said:
Ah, but by the same token, saying that God doesn't exist (which I don't know if you have in this post) has also not been proven. Were you saying that?
Let me try to be clear about what I believe regarding "God:"

• As far as I know, there may very well be a Primary Sentient Presence acting with purpose. As far as I'm concerned there's no way for humans to know that one way or the other. This is why I call myself an agnostic rather than an atheist.

• For me, the descriptions of "God" in all the world's holy books are no more than figments of man's imagination and exist noplace outside of man's mind: they are myths, fables, early attempts to explain what man has so far been unable to explain with unassailable proof.

Barley
 

Hammersmith

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An afternoon's ramble from Buckland
And if such a "Primary Sentient Presence acting with purpose" did exist, would it not seek to make itself known to us? I would say your cynicism with regards to world religions is slightly at odds with your distancing from athiesm, just as your belief that there is no way for humans to know gives any "Primary Sentient Presence" a bit of a poor presentation. An interesting view though, and one worthy of some respect. I would say that you're somewhere between an agnostic and a deist, but then I say a lot of things :)
 

Barliman Butterbur

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Hammersmith said:
And if such a "Primary Sentient Presence acting with purpose" did exist, would it not seek to make itself known to us?
Why? Have you ever had the need to "seek to make yourself known" to a ladybug? You are projecting your own values.

I would say your cynicism with regards to world religions is slightly at odds with your distancing from athiesm, just as your belief that there is no way for humans to know gives any "Primary Sentient Presence" a bit of a poor presentation.
HUH???

An interesting view though, and one worthy of some respect. I would say that you're somewhere between an agnostic and a deist, but then I say a lot of things :)
Your need to neatly categorize me is duly noted. :p

Barley
 

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A belated thank you Inder, for the information in posting #31. I suppose I should have known about Ambrose.......
 

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