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Is the definition for good and evil vague?
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Posted 6/26/14 , edited 6/26/14
Certain individuals are hard to label whether as good or evil. One prime example is Light Yagami, the protagonist of Death Note. He has good intentions, but tries to justify them through killing criminals. In other words, Light solely believes that the results justify the means. To kill anyone who stands in his way, even innocent citizens, he will not hesitate even in the slightest. Even so, he still wants to achieve his goal of changing his world for the better. In short, it seems arguable that Light is on either side.



The topic at hand is mainly about the threads that tie good and evil together. The problem with good and evil is that they don't have strict definitions. If they did, we would find it easier to label certain people on one side of the coin or the other. People who have good intentions but have evil ways of achieving it, and people who have bad intentions but have good ways of achieving it are necessarily diffcult to define. Boundaries are crossed, and there is often a grayish area for these sort of situations. But the problem is, how does one strictly define the boundaries between what is good and what is evil? If so, how does one exactly know the differences between the two?

It would deeply interest me to hear your take on this, Crunchyroll. After all, looking at the different viewpoints of others greatly widens one's perspective.
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Posted 6/26/14
That question is defined by your worldview or philosophy.

My philosophy is Christianity which tells us all good comes from God, that which is good is of God. This works for me and makes sense, all other natural explanations of good or evil I do not think can be justified and lead to Nihilism.
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Posted 6/26/14 , edited 6/26/14
I believe Good and evil are often decided by the winning faction.

Alright let me give an example.

Lets say, there is a group of kidnappers currently holding six hostages. There are two possibilities for rescuing them, possibility one is, you go in and kill ever last one of the kidnappers. The second possibility is that you try to reason with them and get them to release the hostages.

Some would say the first possibility is "evil" since you would be going in and killing that group of people, and you dont know if they were forced to kidnap those people for reasons beyond their control, BUT you did save the hostages, you just went about it in a way that was more or less, morally ambiguous.

the second option would be considered more "lawful, good" since you didn't sacrifice any lives.

I think the question of "good and evil" often needs to be judged on a basis of circumstance.

Someone might be deemed evil for killing three people, in order to save his wife. Even though he was technically trying to save the life of his loved one.

the concept of good and evil is often very hard to judge. Because there are times when someone is just clearly an evil person. For example, a murderer going out and slaughtering a bunch of people for no reason. But there are cases in which, the person who committed the murders was doing it in order to either save his family or actually kill someone who was planning on becoming serial killer.

Then there is the cases in which, something is judged as evil, because those committing those "evil deeds" were not the victors. Such as us considering the Nazi's atrocious and tyrannical individuals. But how would we view them if they won the war? would we view them as good? or would we still view them as evil? Are we simply viewing them as evil because they lost the war?



Another case would be Japanese Comfort houses during the second world war. Still to this day, the Japanese prime minister refuses to apologize for it and doesn't consider it to be a true war crime, and yet the rest of the world considers it to be one of the greatest war crimes after the Japanese human experimentation's in china.
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Posted 6/26/14
Light is evil. Perhaps this is subjective, but that is my opinion. While some good may still be accomplished by an evil person, he was far too consumed with ego for his actions to be considered benevolent. But I often wonder about whether the ends justify the means. The movie "Swordfish" made an interesting exploration of that idea. I recommend it.
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Posted 6/26/14 , edited 6/26/14
As Iconodule said -- what is good and what is evil depends on your worldview and philosophy. It's all subjective.

Just to throw in my two cents about Light -- I consider him evil. He is evil, but with good intentions. It all lies in his attitude towards the innocent people that he murders. He doesn't seem to care. He's ruthless and seemingly without a shred of empathy or sympathy. He's basicly a psychopath.
But the more interesting question is, I think, whether you would support him or not if he had actually existed. If Death Note happened in real life, would you be a Kira-supporter or would you be anti-Kira?

In my case, I might've actually ended up being a Kira-supporter. Because while the person is a wicked monster, one cannot ignore that by and large, the effect he has on the world is positive. "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few" and all...



Iconodule wrote:

That question is defined by your worldview or philosophy.

My philosophy is Christianity which tells us all good comes from God, that which is good is of God. This works for me and makes sense, all other natural explanations of good or evil I do not think can be justified and lead to Nihilism.


Come on now, dude... that's just silly.
I don't believe in God, nor do I derive my morals and philosophies from religion. And yet I'm still not a nihilist.
Posted 6/26/14 , edited 6/26/14
Of course it's vague. Technically nothing is "good" nor is it "bad," but people like to be judgmental upon each other based on their own subjective morals. If you do not agree with someone's moral compass, normally they will attack you and try to force their beliefs upon you. Remember, kiddos, morals are not universal--something someone views as "good" can be bad, and vice-verse. It really depends on the environment in which you are raised and your critical thinking~

ex: some people do not know it's considered "bad" to kill (humans and/or animals); some people think it's "good" to spay/neuter their cats; some people think it's "bad" to eat animals; some people think it's "good" to kill bugs.

Now, Light Yagami is the prime example of what happens when a seemingly good person gets a-hold of too much power. When you give ANYONE too much control, they will snap under the pressure and start mentally digressing. He fought for a cause he believed was good, so in his own sense, he was a good person... but to others he was a psychotic mess. To me? He was just an example of a normal person who was granted "God's" power.
Posted 6/26/14 , edited 6/26/14

Iconodule wrote:

That question is defined by your worldview or philosophy.

My philosophy is Christianity which tells us all good comes from God, that which is good is of God. This works for me and makes sense, all other natural explanations of good or evil I do not think can be justified and lead to Nihilism.


Now, now, now, now, now! According the Catholic/Christian God: sending bears to murder children (4 Kings 2:23-24), hating ugly people (Leviticus 21:17-24), killing... in general (all throughout the book ex: Numbers 16:41-49 where he killed first-born Egyptian males), releasing plagues on the Egyptians (killing even the INNOCENTS), and in general being a total jerk is good. I am not saying that your morals are wrong, but I would take a moment to read through the bible before I call your God "all good."

You can't be omniscient and not know how to be an evil, dickhead once in awhile (which is what he was 90% of the time).
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Posted 6/26/14 , edited 6/27/14

Shiroppu wrote:


Iconodule wrote:

That question is defined by your worldview or philosophy.

My philosophy is Christianity which tells us all good comes from God, that which is good is of God. This works for me and makes sense, all other natural explanations of good or evil I do not think can be justified and lead to Nihilism.


Now, now, now, now, now! According the Catholic/Christian God: sending bears to murder children (4 Kings 2:23-24), hating ugly people (Leviticus 21:17-24), killing... in general (all throughout the book ex: Numbers 16:41-49 where he killed first-born Egyptian males), releasing plagues on the Egyptians (killing even the INNOCENTS), and in general being a total jerk is good. I am not saying that your morals are wrong, but I would take a moment to read through the bible before I call your God "all good."

You can't be omniscient and not know how to be an evil, dickhead once in awhile (which is what he was 90% of the time).



Now how do you judge God? That is the question I ask you. By what standard do you say God was wrong to kill those in the old testament? I submit that for all your claims that my God is evil, you have no reason to call him evil. Is evil an objective thing? An abstraction perhaps? I do not believe that and if you do I want to know how you can believe that.


Syndicaidramon wrote:

Come on now, dude... that's just silly.
I don't believe in God, nor do I derive my morals and philosophies from religion. And yet I'm still not a nihilist.


I do not consider it silly and nor to the nihilists who agree with me. I do not understand where this sense of righteousness comes from in a purely naturalistic world view wherein there is nothing mystical, nothing beyond the physical space time universe. What are the sources of morality if that is the case? We are the products of a process of evolution, wherein our only reason for being as we are today is not because we are good or bad but because it helps us survive. Survival is the only factor in it, the weak either band together to overthrow the strong or the strong rule. There is nothing truly or Good or evil in this world, just brute facts which do not amount to a deeper sense of good or evil. Nietzche unlike so many atheists understood the implications of his atheism and if i were convinced that God did not exist then I would be a Nhilist.
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Posted 6/27/14
Simply put The Holy Bible says that God is the only good person there is. This is stated in The New Testament by Jesus when he is called good. If this is true then we cannot truly know good from evil until we can fully understand just what God is. Also does this not mean that we are in some part good because God exists within us all to some degree?

I think that it would be best to say that no one is truly evil or good on the whole, that we are both, and that one side just tends to dominate the other from time to time.
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Posted 6/27/14 , edited 6/27/14


Don't turn this into another religious argument. Focus on the topic at hand, this is supposed to be another discussion, that's all.
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Posted 6/27/14


i was just about to say the same thing.

Religion holds no place in the topic OP created. While it can be argued it has an effect on our views of good and evil. Lets try to avoid that topic for discussions sake.

I think the main reason behind our perception of Right and wrong, good and evil, Light and darkness; Is society itself.

Society has built up these concepts of "right and wrong" based on the outcomes of the action that caused a reaction.

I find there are very few cases in which we can for one hundred percent certainty say that something is evil or something is good.

Some can argue that someone who commits and evil act, is actually not evil based on his psychological state. For example, a schizophrenic attacking a person because the voices told him to. Can that person be considered evil? even though he had no "Real" say in the matter?
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Posted 6/27/14 , edited 6/27/14

Iconodule

I do not consider it silly and nor to the nihilists who agree with me. I do not understand where this sense of righteousness comes from in a purely naturalistic world view wherein there is nothing mystical, nothing beyond the physical space time universe. What are the sources of morality if that is the case? We are the products of a process of evolution, wherein our only reason for being as we are today is not because we are good or bad but because it helps us survive. Survival is the only factor in it, the weak either band together to overthrow the strong or the strong rule. There is nothing truly or Good or evil in this world, just brute facts which do not amount to a deeper sense of good or evil. Nietzche unlike so many atheists understood the implications of his atheism and if i were convinced that God did not exist then I would be a Nhilist.


My source of morality is based on my observation of the world, followed by contemplation and reasoning about what standards and what morals would be the most beneficial for society as a whole. That and empathy/sympathy towards my fellow human beings (and non-humans as well) is the source of my morals.

And yes, there is no objective "good" or "evil" in the world. It is a human-made concept. But that doesn't mean we cannot still have standards for what we consider to be good and evil.

And if you would've been a nihilist if you didn't believe God exist... well, that sucks for you. Meanwhile, I live in Norway, where most of the population do not believe in God, and where a significant amount of people are atheists, me and many of my friends included. And never have I met a person who was a nihilist. Ever.
I'm not, nor are any of my atheist friends.

Most likely, I'd say your reasoning for saying that you'd be a nihilist is more rooted in the fact that you are so attached to how you derive all your meaning and morals from God that you cannot percieve of being able to derive meaning and morals from a lack of belief in God...
But whatever. I could be wrong.
In any case, disbelief in God does not at all = nihilism. Not by a loooooooooooooong shot.
And the concepts of Good and Evil are not in any way dependant on the existence or belief in God.




AzazelOfNexium
Some can argue that someone who commits and evil act, is actually not evil based on his psychological state. For example, a schizophrenic attacking a person because the voices told him to. Can that person be considered evil? even though he had no "Real" say in the matter?


For me it depends. My kneejerk response would be "no". If the person truly believe that they had to, and had voices in their head telling them they had to, then I wouldn't consider them evil.
Mentally ill for sure. But not evil.
Unless the person was doing it for the sake of delight or for any needless reason with complete disregard for their victim, then most likely, I wouldn't consider it evil... Probably. Though there may be factors that I'm forgetting that could weigh in on the verdict...
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Posted 6/27/14

EatsRainbows wrote:


Don't turn this into another religious argument. Focus on the topic at hand, this is supposed to be another discussion, that's all.


The discussion of good and evil is related to the question of God and religion. Christians believe it or not have an opinion about this, it has to do with things called original sin and the innate goodness which is God. If you don't want a philosophically religious responce to this question (You should have said atheists only), instead wanting a merely secular answer to the question well I have to tell you that you are not taking everything into account and you are excluding answers simply because you do not like the direction it is going. I won't respond further to your thread (bar this one to synd and you) but I will say that it was naive to open this topic and not expect to get a theistic answer. It is not however religion primarily which is at concern here, it is whether or not morality has its basis in the divine, in something transcendent.

That synd proposes that the definition of good and evil are entirely subjective. What does this mean in reality? There is no good and evil, right into the batting cage and we have a miss. For if good and evil are subjective, dependent on the minds of men my primary criticism remains valid and unchallenged. Synd thinks certain things will be beneficial for society, but this has in mind the idea of beneficial, what does it mean to benefit? Equality? Rights? HUman dignity? There is an implicit assumption in the goodness of these things which doesn't make sense in this world view wherein we humans define morality, a non existent morality which we merely have for the sake of getting along. Why ought we get along? Why ought we benefit each other? Why ought we seek good? Synd has no answer to this other than personal feelings, for as synd will gladly testify, synd's thoughts and all peoples thoughts on morality are not objective.

You really ought take the next step, nihilism. Its not about good people, its about realizing the meaninglessness of the world around you.

Done.

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Posted 6/27/14 , edited 6/27/14

Iconodule
That synd proposes that the definition of good and evil are entirely subjective. What does this mean in reality? There is no good and evil, right into the batting cage and we have a miss.
For if good and evil are subjective, dependent on the minds of men my primary criticism remains valid and unchallenged. Synd thinks certain things will be beneficial for society, but this has in mind the idea of beneficial, what does it mean to benefit? Equality? Rights? HUman dignity?

There is an implicit assumption in the goodness of these things which doesn't make sense in this world view wherein we humans define morality, a non existent morality which we merely have for the sake of getting along. Why ought we get along?
Why ought we benefit each other? Why ought we seek good? Synd has no answer to this other than personal feelings, for as synd will gladly testify, synd's thoughts and all peoples thoughts on morality are not objective.

You really ought take the next step, nihilism. Its not about good people, its about realizing the meaninglessness of the world around you.
Done.



I must say that I find it rather insulting that you just assume that I have no answer to give to your questions.
A bit overly zealous are we?

The idea of what is beneficial can in many cases be objectively determined. That's why random murder and stealing is bad. Because that's the formula that benefits most of the population.
That same thing also goes with the consept of human rights, as it is what will benefit most people, in contrast to a socialdarwinistic view where the rich and powerful (the elite) are the only ones who truly matters, and where everyone else are interchangeable peasants that may as well not exist.

The reason society has grown in this direction -- the direction where we value equality, rights and human dignity -- is because it benefits the most people, making for a happier, healthier society as a whole.
Typicly, the only ones who oppose this line of thinking are the elites themselves, who are motivated by greed and see the peasantry as obsticles in the pursuit for bigger selfish gain.
But their line of thinking is not beneficial to society. It is only beneficial to themselves.
The same thing goes for bigots.

So you see, the assumption of goodness in things like equality and human rights does indeed make sense. Because it makes society and the world at large better for most people.

In fact, taking that into account, I'd say that if anything, such things as equality, human rights and human dignity are NOT values that are promoted by religion, because the days where the laws were made by religion are looked back on as being draconian and barbaric -- even by the people who belong to those religions. And apparently, you yourself included.
So tell me then -- where were these divinely inspired morals during the inquisition? During the christening of the western world? During the thousand years where the law of God was the law of the land?

And finally, why should I take "the next step" and become a nihilist? I've repeatedly explained to you that I've been perfectly capable of finding meaning and morals without believing in God. So who do you think you are telling me that I haven't or that I can't?
Your attitude is rather arrogant and narrow-minded. A bubble of religious dependance is not the only place from which to derive meaning or morals.
Get over it.
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Posted 6/27/14 , edited 6/27/14


Religious arguments tend to get out of hand, really. That is an entirely different subject on the matter, and so as I have posted before, we will have none of that. This is meant to be a discussion, nothing more.
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