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Switch to Forum Live View Is there really a difference between good and evil?
6 years ago  ::  Dec 12, 2008 - 12:55AM #1
LostOne
Posts: 41
I’m having trouble separating good from evil/right from wrong…I find that it is mostly perspective that is the deciding factor. If you can find good in something bad…then is it really bad and vice versa, i.e. someone is murdered (bad) and had they reached adulthood they would have been the person who destroys our country. Is it still bad that this person died? Couldn’t you say that its our parents & life lessons that has taught us this perspective as well? We teach our children our ideas of right and wrong, at the very same time we tell them that “little white lies" are ok...

something to ponder...
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6 years ago  ::  Dec 12, 2008 - 6:08PM #2
REteach
Posts: 15,007
I do not think it is always as clear cut as we would like.

For instance, toddlers are notorious for stranger anxiety.  Try to put a stethoscope on their chest and they will make a fair attempt to climb the wall, screaming the whole time.  Now have their mom hold them down while people torture them with needles, and try to explain it is for their own good.  Uh-huh.  I don't think they believe us that we are hurting them and scaring the beejeebers out of them at the same time for their own good. 

Are we evil when we give a toddler their shots? I suspect we are from the POV of the toddler.
I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize what you heard was not what I meant...
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6 years ago  ::  Dec 12, 2008 - 6:59PM #3
gorm-sionnach
Posts: 1,663
What is good and what is evil does depend entirely upon your cultural background. However, there are many common threads of human belief which hold many actions to be abhorrent, if not across the entire board, fairly close to it.

Murder is generally considered something which most societies, in normal circumstance try and avoid. Of course, murder is a rather subjective term. generally most societies do not believe in killing another human being for no good reason.

Genocide is generally held to be abhorrent in all its forms, but again some cultures advocate wiping their enemies out, so it falls back to individual belief. Personally anyone who wants to wipe out an entire group of people is a monster.

Sex with and abuse/killing of children is something seen as evil, which tends to cross cultural boundaries. It is one of the more pervasive views, if only because of that biological imperative hard wired into most people, and thus most cultures.

Subjectivity, cultural sensitivity, morals and ethics are all dependent on the culture/society you are talking about. I think to argue anything that is a value judgment as being ABSOLUTE is a fallacy, but simply excusing unethical actions as cultural difference isn't enough of a justification to condone those behaviors, views and actions. For those of us who do not see the world as black and white, but endless shades of gray this is something we all have to come to terms with. Those who see the world as black and white have it much easier, albeit they often find themselves at the source of atrocity.
Truth in our hearts, Strength in our arms, Fulfillment in our tongues.
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6 years ago  ::  Dec 12, 2008 - 6:08PM #4
REteach
Posts: 15,007
I do not think it is always as clear cut as we would like.

For instance, toddlers are notorious for stranger anxiety.  Try to put a stethoscope on their chest and they will make a fair attempt to climb the wall, screaming the whole time.  Now have their mom hold them down while people torture them with needles, and try to explain it is for their own good.  Uh-huh.  I don't think they believe us that we are hurting them and scaring the beejeebers out of them at the same time for their own good. 

Are we evil when we give a toddler their shots? I suspect we are from the POV of the toddler.
I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize what you heard was not what I meant...
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6 years ago  ::  Dec 12, 2008 - 6:59PM #5
gorm-sionnach
Posts: 1,663
What is good and what is evil does depend entirely upon your cultural background. However, there are many common threads of human belief which hold many actions to be abhorrent, if not across the entire board, fairly close to it.

Murder is generally considered something which most societies, in normal circumstance try and avoid. Of course, murder is a rather subjective term. generally most societies do not believe in killing another human being for no good reason.

Genocide is generally held to be abhorrent in all its forms, but again some cultures advocate wiping their enemies out, so it falls back to individual belief. Personally anyone who wants to wipe out an entire group of people is a monster.

Sex with and abuse/killing of children is something seen as evil, which tends to cross cultural boundaries. It is one of the more pervasive views, if only because of that biological imperative hard wired into most people, and thus most cultures.

Subjectivity, cultural sensitivity, morals and ethics are all dependent on the culture/society you are talking about. I think to argue anything that is a value judgment as being ABSOLUTE is a fallacy, but simply excusing unethical actions as cultural difference isn't enough of a justification to condone those behaviors, views and actions. For those of us who do not see the world as black and white, but endless shades of gray this is something we all have to come to terms with. Those who see the world as black and white have it much easier, albeit they often find themselves at the source of atrocity.
Truth in our hearts, Strength in our arms, Fulfillment in our tongues.
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6 years ago  ::  Dec 13, 2008 - 11:20AM #6
LostOne
Posts: 41
"Sex with and abuse/killing of children is something seen as evil, which tends to cross cultural boundaries. It is one of the more pervasive views, if only because of that biological imperative hard wired into most people, and thus most cultures."

I couldn't agree more, but it also futher proves my point. Someone hurts a child in those manners, I can then justify murder.

Perhaps I should say it a personal perspective...
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6 years ago  ::  Dec 13, 2008 - 11:19PM #7
REteach
Posts: 15,007
Some early religions believed that firstborns were gifts from the gods and needed to be returned to the gods as a result, leading to child sacrifice.
I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize what you heard was not what I meant...
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6 years ago  ::  Dec 13, 2008 - 11:21PM #8
TPaine
Posts: 9,427
I remember reading this story a long time ago in Paul Harvey's book, The Rest of the Story.
Having read it so long ago, I can't remember details. It's the story of two women who found themselves pregnant.
The first story concerns a young unmarried peasant woman who may have been a slave from the middle east. She had no means to support the child, and would have to find someone to take it and raise it.
The second story concerns the third wife of an abusive man 23 years her senior. She was also his half niece. The pregnancy did not stop the beatings.
I take no position on this but it does show a bit about the fine line between good and evil.
Had either woman had the availability of a safe abortion, should either or both have had one under the circumstances?
















If you said yes to the first woman, the world would have been denied the genius of Leonardo da Vinci.

If you said yes to the second woman, the world would have been saved from the evils of Adolph Hitler.
The United States economy is like a poker game where the chips have become concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, and where the other fellows can stay in the game only by borrowing. When their credit runs out the game will stop. -- Marriner Eccles: Beckoning Frontiers (1951)
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6 years ago  ::  Dec 13, 2008 - 11:28PM #9
gorm-sionnach
Posts: 1,663
[QUOTE=TPaine;955163]I remember reading this story a long time ago in Paul Harvey's book, The Rest of the Story.
Having read it so long ago, I can't remember details. It's the story of two women who found themselves pregnant.
The first story concerns a young unmarried peasant woman who may have been a slave from the middle east. She had no means to support the child, and would have to find someone to take it and raise it.
The second story concerns the third wife of an abusive man 23 years her senior. She was also his half niece. The pregnancy did not stop the beatings.
I take no position on this but it does show a bit about the fine line between good and evil.
Had either woman had the availability of a safe abortion, should either or both have had one under the circumstances?

If you said yes to the first woman, the world would have been denied the genius of Leonardo da Vinci.

If you said yes to the second woman, the world would have been saved from the evils of Adolph Hitler.[/QUOTE]


This remind me of an ethical parable that tends to pop in every now and then in history classes in high school.

There were three men, (I am not sure if these were the exact claims, I can't be bothered to look it up right now =P)

One was a sexual deviant, drunk and cocaine abuser
One was a philanderer, and regularly used heroin when he was in university.
One man was a strict vegetarian, teetotaler and artist.

the first man was Churchill
the second was FDR
the third was Hitler.

The point of the exercise was to see that simply because people had certain associations for certain activities, it didn't mean that you could judge them solely on those actions.
Truth in our hearts, Strength in our arms, Fulfillment in our tongues.
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6 years ago  ::  Dec 14, 2008 - 1:10AM #10
gorm-sionnach
Posts: 1,663
[QUOTE=REteach;955158]Some early religions believed that firstborns were gifts from the gods and needed to be returned to the gods as a result, leading to child sacrifice.[/QUOTE]

And for the most part, these societies and practices were demonized by those outsiders (i.e the Roman histories regarding the Carthaginians) who saw this practice as abhorrent. Then again, the Romans were not the most unbiased source in regards to the Carthaginians... I recall what their later histories recall of Gaul, and so remain just a little skeptical.

I think the practices of such, especially first born, was something only societies which had enough of an established population base/ reproductive success that they could afford to risk killing their first child, since a second would be likely. If they didn't, clearly they would have drastically reduced their own number, even wiping themselves out... From a biological imperative position, its counter intuitive. It doesn't seem that many early cultres would have practiced this on a wide scale. Then again, history has shown that ideas and beliefs can trump the value of human life time and time again. Many cultures place higher value in ideas than life itself (and whether or not this is a valid belief, is entirely up to the individual)

An example; from early Irish sources, according to Brehon law, the murder of one member of the tuath (tribe) by another, would not automatically result in death, corporal punishment or even banishment. Often, depending on mitigating factors (status, social role, severity of the crime) the offender would have to pay a debt to the family of the person they wronged, an honour price. Generally this was through some form of material goods, or monetarily. Sometimes if one was unable to pay the price decided upon by the Brehon, they could become slaves.

The Irish Celts were if nothing else a highly legalistic society, but some of the concepts seem to echo with issues today some may feel are wrong, but some may agree with. Clearly slavery is something people simply do not tolerate anymore (and don't get me wrong, I am in no way trying to advocate the practice of slavery, I used it as an example.) Some people feel that criminals should pay restitution to their victims, yet others feel that perpetrators paying a restitution for their crimes, just allows the rich to go free and get away with lighter sentences, while the poor suffer with inadequate means, clearly a depraved notion of our capitalist society. Clearly our (I'm generalizing here) western mores have us hold life as one of the (if not the) highest valued thing someone can have. I could go into a Pro-Choice vs Pro-Life debate here, but since a forum for that already exists, suffice to say that what "life" means, differs according on who you ask.


PS: Please don't get into a PL vs PC debate here, I cannot stress this enough. Sorry if I seem a little pressing on the issue, but its one of those things that tends to elicit strong reactions, and derails original topics with ease:o
Truth in our hearts, Strength in our arms, Fulfillment in our tongues.
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