E-V-I-L


John Dailey

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~ I think that 'EVIL' has gotten a 'bad' reputation...terminologically, that is...especially within some 'O-ist' circles. Sometimes due to over-use (or, inapplicable/unclarified-use); sometimes due to revulsion of such stupid usage. True: the term 'bad' is, unfortunately, NEVER used. Something must be clarified about this...problem. Let me try to start, beyond making the term 'EVIL' anathema, as some have been doing.

~ In the "O-ist" Ethics, 'EVIL' is defined as the following: "All that which is proper to the life of a rational being is the good; all that which destroys it is the evil" [my italics]. Clearly, there are people who fall under the 'that'; just as clearly, not all people whose behaviour falls under the 'that' are necessarily themselves, ipso facto, 'that.' Further, LP's views that only children, retards and 'rare' exceptions fall in the last category...is rationally unacceptable.

LLAP

J:D

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~ Philosophically speaking, 'e-v-i-l' is the proper term re anything that destroys/works-against that which is 'proper to the life of a rational being.' C'mon! Who can argue with that? It's not merely 'bad'; it IS e-v-i-l! --- Can one over-emphasize 'not-good'? I don't think so, if we're really talking about 'threat-to-life' [especially one's own!!]

~ Philosophically, 'bad' just don't really cut it in any worthwhile meaningful terms. One might as well work out an 'Ethics' centered around 'The Nice...and...the NOT Nice.' (or 'The Decent' or 'The Golden Mean' or 'The Civilized' or...)

~ We're talking 'Philosophical' Evaluations here, basically; such should not to be confused with action/Behaviour Evaluations, nor either with Psychological Evaluations. ALL might/may be congruent; none necessarily are. Distinctions re contexts are always required for 'rational' analysis.

LLAP

J:D

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~ Person 'X' does behaviour 'A.' Behaviour 'A' is evil. Ergo, person 'X' is 'evil'? Philosophically, yes, regardless their knowledge (or lack thereof) that their behaviour is 'evil.' Roark's behaviour was never (except for some anti-O'ists re Courtland) evil by any lights; yet, Dominique was constantly fighting him; ergo, she was 'evil'? Then there's Galt who was chronically fought by Dagny. Same? Yes. --- Philosophically, both females were serving (ergo were[?]) 'evil' in fighting a-g-a-i-n-s-t the good fight put up by Roark and Galt...'till the latters showed them the light (without castigating them as even 'bad', much less 'evil.')

~ Their 'behaviour/actions' were, philosophically, 'evil.' Who would argue that therefore psychologically, they were? Galt wouldn't; Roark wouldn't; Rand wouldn't...any non-myopic "O-ist" wouldn't.

LLAP

J:D

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~ Let's try to keep in mind that when Rand talked about Kant, she wasn't merely evaluating his Philosophy. She was giving a Psychological Evaluation of 'him.' Ie: By her lights, he 'knew' what he was doing in promulgating this metaphysics-view of man's epistemology and his supposed 'reality.' He was Toohey incarnate.

~ However, Psychological Evaluations should not be confused with Philosophical Evaluations; the latter have to do with actions-per-se re their consequences...and NOTHING else. They have nothing inherently to do with the former. To equate the two Evaluation-territories is to confuse, to analogize, The Singer with the Song: The Behaviour-er with The Soul. Galt didn't do that (unlike some obvious contemporary Rand-emulator-wannabees), did he?

LLAP

J:D

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~ Now, as to Psychological Evaluations, eh-h-h, that 'Behaviour' territory is the cusp prob re Philosophical and Psychological Evaluations. Philosophical has to do with the proper ETHICS limits of should/should-not; Psychological has to do with the actual ACTIONS done.

~ HERE, there be 'bad' as well as 'evil'...dragons.

~ Re Dagny and Dominique, Psychologically they were 'good', doing 'bad.' They fought against 'good'...ignorantly. Philosophically, 'evil'; Psychologically, 'bad.' The dif? Readiness to change; Psychological 'evil' is not...ready.

~ Ergo, teaching kids about 'good/evil' properly should be taught in terms of 'good/bad.' Discussing Susan Smith's murder of her two kids, O.J's situation (ahem!), Hussein's dungeon/prisons, or the Twin Towers decision-makers: right...E-V-I-L...Psychologically, personally. --- Stealing candy...or picking wings off butterflies: B-A-D.

LLAP

J:D

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~ To summarize: 'Bad' is clearly not exactly synonomous with 'Evil', though it always does...hint...at being in or going to that territory. Strictly speaking, 'bad' is really a watered-down near-PC way of talking about (or around?) 'evil.' Such really is appropriate ONLY for explaining 'not-good' to children. A pick-pocket, scam-artist, con-man, is not, all said and done, merely 'bad.' Ask any victim. And I'm not even talking about prof hit-men or serial-rapists. They, Psychologically, are e-v-i-l ('compulsions' nwst!) They need to be caught...and set away from our society; at least for a while.

~ Then there's mere 'liars.' O'boy. Here's some arguable territory. Some are evil; some are bad; some are good.

~ I'll leave this here, for now. Comments anyone?

LLAP

J:D

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  • 1 month later...
~ I think that 'EVIL' has gotten a 'bad' reputation...terminologically, that is...especially within some 'O-ist' circles. Sometimes due to over-use (or, inapplicable/unclarified-use); sometimes due to revulsion of such stupid usage. True: the term 'bad' is, unfortunately, NEVER used. Something must be clarified about this...problem. Let me try to start, beyond making the term 'EVIL' anathema, as some have been doing.

~ In the "O-ist" Ethics, 'EVIL' is defined as the following: "All that which is proper to the life of a rational being is the good; all that which destroys it is the evil" [my italics]. Clearly, there are people who fall under the 'that'; just as clearly, not all people whose behaviour falls under the 'that' are necessarily themselves, ipso facto, 'that.' Further, LP's views that only children, retards and 'rare' exceptions fall in the last category...is rationally unacceptable.

LLAP

J:D

The point about what defines 'the good' and that what defines it's opposite or 'evil' even when worked out in this way makes some absolute assumptions about rationally, namely that all rational minds define and judge upon this in the same way. Point of the matter is that even rational minds can differ about what is rational, and therefore don't need to have the same opinion on what is to be treated as 'the good' and what falls under 'evil'.

As will be often the case, the way then this is resolved when for instance two rational minds differ in opinion on this in essence, is that one calls the other 'irrational'. But if both of them have worked out a rational analyses of what they refer to as 'good' and 'evil', but just arrive at a different conclusion, how can this ever be resolved, unless one resorts to irrational means?

Who can decide about who is rational and who is not?

The problem is that this can not be resolved in principle.

Edit: Just as an example that supports the argument, people who can be considered to be very rational - scientists - do happen to disagree on many respects with each other. This intelectual debate and disagreement is only healthy, and not something bad. Without it, science would not have developed so far. But it clearly shows that between rational people there is a large variety of opinion on different issues.

Especially on issues (in politics for example) that deal with the real life interests of people, we are not likely to find an agreement on such things.

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Comments anyone?

I don't hesitate to use the word "evil" about a person when it seems appropriate. I'm not so politically correct that I refer only to evil behaviors and not to evil persons.

I think I'd include in the definition of an evil person (without any attempt at being all-inclusive here) someone who knowingly commits to a way of life that is (1) harmful to other people and/or (2) indifferent to truth and reality.

It's kind of like pornography for me; I know it when I see it. I'm not a professional philosopher, so I'm not inclined to wrestle out precisely worded definitions. But damn, my gut sure knows it.

I've been wading through "The Winds of War" and "War and Remembrance" since early January, and I'm almost finished. Admittedly the evils of Hitler and Stalin are obvious, but Roosevelt as portrayed in the story turns my stomach. Last night, I thought to myself, "That man was EVIL." What generated that reaction was his willingness to betray allies, his complete deviousness in portraying himself and his aims, his untrustworthiness in that one couldn't believe what one heard or saw when one was with him, his willingness to lie outright to get what he wanted -- in short, when his mouth was moving, you never knew if truth was coming out or not, and he really didn't seem to give a damn about anyone and cynically cared only about being re-elected. (And the whole thing with the New Deal, which is the very worst thing about his presidency in my opinion, isn't even portrayed in the book.) He came across as a sociopath. It really creeped me out. Wouk apparently did painstaking research for the book, to the point where it's really a history lesson presented in fictional form solely to make it more palatable, so I have to assume that Roosevelt really was like that.

Judith

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  • 2 weeks later...

Judith:

~ The problem with being satisfied with 'gut' feelings is that another's 'gut' feeling can be quite different, ergo, neither has the same meaning regarding 'what is porn?' anymore than 'what is evil?' Their accepeted emotional guts tell them each differently. --- Such is quite alright...until one gets into a discussion about "Is doing 'X' evil? Is 'X' always bad?" No definitions will end up with lots of vehemently emotional-gut-feeling disagreement...and no way for either to find a 'common ground' of agreement within each's gut-feelings to discuss it with the other. Usually, that's the cause of flame-wars in these threads, and fist-fights outside of them.

LLAP

J:D

P.S: More simply: how and where does one 'draw-the-line' re what is and is-not?

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Bright, sharp lines are always challenging, if not impossible to draw in the area of ethics. People sharing the same premises will very likely have the same gut reactions to obvious situations. I don't think any of us would have different gut reactions to someone robbing a home for profit, raping another person, killing for pleasure, etc.

As far as definitions -- I'd offer the one I submitted in my previous post as a starter for discussion.

Judith

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