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Is the definition for good and evil vague?
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Earth
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Posted 6/27/14 , edited 6/27/14
It's a curious an in some cases unanswerable question.......

if we are to restrict the question to Death Note itself (just for sake of simplicity, and I only watched the anime), it can be broken down into different bitsized parts.

Light had a serious ego problem before he got the book. The difference being that his ego would not allow him to act as it would have resulted in jail time and more importantly a blemish on himself. When he received the note book, he was given the means to act on his belief without retribution(yes, it came around to bit him in the ass eventually, but for the most part without consequence). He secured a second book (and person) with which to use to further protect himself and carry on his divine right as he saw it.

Light was an asshole, thats for sure. The question becomes when it crosses the line to evil. And that became when he killed people based on the idea that they were not as productive as him. After that point there were no strict rules to his narrow world view. He viewed himself superior to all others. When you have an unchecked ego and unstoppable weapon its the natural result. He was evil, not an anti-hero, because there was no flexibility in his world view and there was no one to question him on his belief system in order to show a better way forward.


In the real world however the definition of good and evil have many different meanings depending on the context. For instance in Judeo-Christian beliefs there appears to be a distinct difference between good and evil. Once you read the books you find that there are many and varied ways in which the distinction is subverted. For example incest is forbidden and punishable, but Low slept with his daughters after their escape from sodom and gomorrah and it appeared to take place without penalty from angels or god. (I make that statement not to start a flame war but as an example)

In historical context, good and evil are defined by the winners. Perfect example, Ireland had the active terrorist unit IRA killing people through various means in order to achieve a goal for reunification or at minimum Catholics having equal rights. Britain defined them as terrorist but people in Ireland at the time, before they became drug dealing scum, sided with them and saw them as a good thing (admittedly, there were disagreements with the methods). Some of these former terrorist are now sitting politicians and working towards peaceful resolution within Ireland and Northern Ireland. So the question becomes if they were either good or evil or just of their time.

At the end of the day I think a reasonable break down of what evil is, is "Destruction for destructions sake" or if you like never creating or having any positive influence on a culture. I wonder if being good is the direct 180 of that or even if absolute good is achievable without getting your hands dirty.
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Posted 6/27/14
Good and Evil are like water.... ever moving,ever changing, but only solidified through the context of history........ thats as bitsized as I can get it
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It doesn't matter.
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Posted 6/28/14
Such things are subjective and have no true definition.
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Posted 6/29/14 , edited 6/29/14

Evilbubbs wrote:

It's a curious an in some cases unanswerable question.......

if we are to restrict the question to Death Note itself (just for sake of simplicity, and I only watched the anime), it can be broken down into different bitsized parts.

Light had a serious ego problem before he got the book. The difference being that his ego would not allow him to act as it would have resulted in jail time and more importantly a blemish on himself. When he received the note book, he was given the means to act on his belief without retribution(yes, it came around to bit him in the ass eventually, but for the most part without consequence). He secured a second book (and person) with which to use to further protect himself and carry on his divine right as he saw it.

Light was an asshole, thats for sure. The question becomes when it crosses the line to evil. And that became when he killed people based on the idea that they were not as productive as him. After that point there were no strict rules to his narrow world view. He viewed himself superior to all others. When you have an unchecked ego and unstoppable weapon its the natural result. He was evil, not an anti-hero, because there was no flexibility in his world view and there was no one to question him on his belief system in order to show a better way forward.




Well said. I could not have articulated this argument any better. Also, everyone possesses their own morality system so strictly distinguishing between universal right and wrong is impossible.
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Posted 6/30/14
To a point I would agree with you. However as a society we do have a shared social set of morals that although no always specifically list is understood as the line not to cross.

Its more of an evolutionary imparitive that we have a shared line otherwise we would not be able to form a working and productive society. I grant you that this is not always the case but it is an accepted view for a majority of cultures.
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Posted 6/30/14
@cinnamonbun thanks for that. It jus never seemed to be stated by fans what a asshole he is to begin with and thats where the antihero stuff falls down.
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Posted 7/7/14
No.
When define good or evil as a subjective quality, I'm saying neither exist outside of one's imagination.
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28 / M / Gotham City
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Posted 7/19/14
Good and evil are different for everybody and come from their perspective and upbringing. We think the terrorist are bad people they think were bad people and a nation full of sin and that their doing right by their religious beliefs. America fought for it's freedom from the british and we look back at that as if they were freedom fighters. If someone today wanted freedom from america because they believed they had a corrupt government that needed to be overthrown they would be labeled a terrorist. End of the day all of mankind has blood on it's hand. Every nation has killed for their own beliefs and claimed justification.
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31 / M / Riding sound waves
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Posted 7/19/14 , edited 7/19/14
When in doubt, consult D & D alignment system

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alignment_(Dungeons_%26_Dragons)

Honestly the most concrete examples of 'good' and 'evil' and the levels of each.

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18 / M
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Posted 8/4/14
The idea of good and evil is somewhat required to exist in order to keep a working society as we have now. There needs to be things that we should not be allowed to do so that our society can run smoothly.

I'm going to assume that nature/god/whatever you believe in did not plan on humans creating large societies, so a black and white concept of good and evil was never needed. It's just an idea that we made, mostly to benefit ourselves. What is wrong with killing another or stealing someone's things, besides that it's illegal? I doubt anyone can give me a good answer, and most attempts would probably be centered towards their personal benefit.

And that's what the idea of good and evil comes down to really. It's to benefit the ones who believe in it. And that explains why there isn't a black and white version, because not all ideas benefit everybody.
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Posted 9/1/14
The definition of good and evil is completely up to you.But a lot of people need to realize that the world isn't always black and white.If a normal person murdered someone,is he evil?A lot of people will say "yes". But what if you found out he was being blackmailed into doing it?For example if he didn't kill,then the person who blackmailed him was going to kill his entire family.Would he still be evil.I mean he still murdered people.Those people are never coming back and probably had lives.However,if he didn't then everyone he had ever loved would be killed.Husband,wife,brother,sister,son,daughter,mother,father,all of them just killed.Some people would still say " yes",some people would say "no", but some people would be in the gray area.
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21 / M / UK
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Posted 9/1/14 , edited 9/1/14

rohaun wrote:

The definition of good and evil is completely up to you.But a lot of people need to realize that the world isn't always black and white.If a normal person murdered someone,is he evil?A lot of people will say "yes". But what if you found out he was being blackmailed into doing it?For example if he didn't kill,then the person who blackmailed him was going to kill his entire family.Would he still be evil.I mean he still murdered people.Those people are never coming back and probably had lives.However,if he didn't then everyone he had ever loved would be killed.Husband,wife,brother,sister,son,daughter,mother,father,all of them just killed.Some people would still say " yes",some people would say "no", but some people would be in the gray area.


I agree most things are in a grey area, there is no that much pure evil but still enough to acknowledge it.
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20 / M
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Posted 9/1/14 , edited 9/1/14
I think the criteria of things you can label as evil or good is very small. There's only Black and White when you're judging between 2 words, so it's not possible to fairly judge something Grey.
Dammit, didn't see Rohaun's post before I commented I promise I didn't copy or read yours until after
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Posted 9/1/14 , edited 9/1/14
In philosophy, there's a famous argument called the "open question" argument that basically says it's hard to reduce the concept of "good" any further than it already has been. As an example, say you define good as something that's pleasurable. If you ask the question "is pleasure good?" Does that question seem to make sense? Does it seem like you can ask that question and it's not meaningless? Consider the contrasting example. A bachelor is an unmarried male. If you ask "is a bachelor married?" would that question make any sense to ask?

The idea here is that there's nothing you can deduce about the good from any definition you can create, so whenever you say "x is good" and you ask the question, "is x good?" it still makes sense someone would ask the question. It's not a stupid question like the "is a bachelor married?" question.

So, to tie it in to this thread, people have struggled for a long time to define the idea of goodness. The guy who came up with the open question argument basically argues we have to take the idea of something being "good" as some irreducible property of some event, circumstance, etc. Good is basically like the color of an object under his philosophy. You can't reduce it any further.
Vatta 
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17 / M / Ireland
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Posted 9/15/14
I believe good and evil are ever changing and there's nearly always a gray area. Sure, there are some people you can define as completely "evil": pedophiles, rapists, serial killers, etc.

But in a lot of cases, like with Light in Death Note, it's not that easy. There's a gray area, even if you see that person as evil you can understand where they are coming from. It can also depend on your religion, where you grew up, etc.

To answer the question, yes I believe that the definition for good and evil are vague.
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