Does Evil Exist?

Yes
29% (8 votes)
No
57% (16 votes)
Unsure
7% (2 votes)
Other
7% (2 votes)
Total votes: 28

Posted By

Lone Wolf
Jul 12 2006 22:51

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Nemo
Jul 16 2006 12:54
revol68 wrote:
I think it is possible to have a concept of Evil that avoids such pitfalls.

Good luck trying to to come up with one and trying to convince everyone to use your version of the word. Let me know how it works out.

revol68 wrote:
And lets face it in everyday life we use it, I call people evil fuckers all the time.

I just call them fuckers.

Nemo
Jul 16 2006 13:08
revol68 wrote:
So i have no worry there, you patronising cock.

Sorry, that wasn't my intention. sad I'm just a little skeptical, that's all.

Red Marriott
Jul 16 2006 13:12
revol wrote:
Youse just reek of pussy lil liberals.

Hey, what's with the plurals? You just agreed with me a couple of posts back - and if I'm gonna be blessed with a revolism, I want one all to myself.

Yes I agree there's lots of 'evil fuckers' out there and I find it emotionally satisfying and useful to say so, but a bit vague/limiting/confusing as a term of dialogue and analysis.

Nemo
Jul 16 2006 13:22
revol68 wrote:
And I think Lone Wolf was trying to raise this, that we shouldn't let a word of such history and emotional impact fall into the service of ignorance.

My point is that it has already fallen into it, and is not needed anyway, and any attempt to rescue it will be a monumental struggle and will be almost certain to fail. This has nothing to do with liberalism -- liberals being as free with the term as conservatives.

Red Marriott
Jul 16 2006 13:22
Quote:
we shouldn't let a word of such history and emotional impact fall into the service of ignorance.

But it's precisely that original history that makes that task so problematic.

But this has made me late for meeting some folks, so have to drag myself away to get out in the sun. Later...

Nemo
Jul 16 2006 13:38
revol68 wrote:
Capitalism to me is an evil system, it is not the product of any singular agency nevermind a devil, but it is an evil system, in the sense it's a very very very very very bad system, if you know what I mean.

I know what you mean, and I sort of agree. Capitalism is oppressive, exploitative, dehumanising, and often violent. I'm sure you could come up with many other words to describe it. I just don't see the need to add evil to the list, or to try to lump all these terms together into a single word -- meaning is lost. I'm sure it does express your anger, disgust, etc at it -- and maybe that is of some use (maybe). But, as far as I can tell, you wanted something beyond a fancy insult.

And, for the record, I don't agree that you need to throw away the terms good and bad. While they are often lumped together with evil, they have very different connotations. Cake is good. Sprouts are bad. Hitler is evil.

Nemo
Jul 16 2006 14:13
revol68 wrote:
So what is the qualitive difference between saying Hitler is bad and Hitler is evil?

If you told people that Hitler was bad you'd probably get some funny looks! smile

Seriously, no one would call Hitler bad, because he is already evil. But if I said "X is bad" (assuming that X is not already widely recognised as being evil), then it would not have the same effect as saying "X is evil". I cannot then say that "Y is the new X". It just doesn't have the same effect, in my opinion.

And I don't think it is a matter of degree. Calling Hitler very very very ... very bad would also get you funny looks.

Caiman del Barrio
Jul 16 2006 14:30
revol68 wrote:
So what is the qualitive difference between saying Hitler is bad and Hitler is evil?

Cos for many people, evil has crossed over from a superlative of "bad" into a non-negotiable absolute? And then, for others like yourself, it's an almost tongue in cheek term of everyday use. You might think Madball are "evil" cos you find them disagreeable. It has little use in a critical political discourse IMO.

Nemo
Jul 16 2006 14:47

Well put Alan. I think that was what I was groping my way towards saying.

Lone Wolf
Jul 17 2006 02:47
Saii wrote:
Quote:
Oh dear...John what you have just described is hedonism!!!!! Not wickedness/evil/psychopathy or whatever you want to call it.....What am I referring to is a planned, calculated, "intelligent" practice of mental and physical torture for the express person of destroying another.

"LW you seem to have a really simplistic way of looking at this. There are no 'evil' people who do not justify their own actions to themselves, at least in the moment of its doing (they may reconsider later)."

Saii - No I don't have a simplistic way of looking at it. I agree that many people take on a belief system in order to justify to themselves heinous acts....Therefore as you say...

"But here's the crack - the Jews were not considered to be human by the soldiers. "

Right so with this belief system they could justify brutalising and exterminating the Jews on the grounds that they are not fully human.

I agree. But there are still a minority of evil-doers who would KNOW the people they are abusing are fully-fledged humans and would not need any justifaction to be given to themselves in order to carry out these acts. The minority of humans for whom evil is its own reward. And is the means AND the ends. I have already said this is a tiny minority of people - but unfortunately you do not need many to have a devastating effect...

"Now these people were wrong in their analysis of the situation, and about their reactions to it. They were hugely selfish, and utterly reprehensible in the eyes of the vast majority of the world. That I think is a fair enough comment"

Wrong in their analysis of the situation??? Selfish??? Represhensible???These words do not go ANYWHERE near expressing the horrors of the Holocaust. Which is why we need much stronger terms...And need to use them sparingly.So they do not lose their impact. I agree with you re:not using the term casually.

..." other people do not feel the same way about that. Until you understand this concept you won't be able to understand how capitalists think - and that make you naive, not John.

Who says I don't know how capitalists think?? Of course I know a lot of people do not see the extent of the damage that capitalism creates...This is something we are all agreed about on Libcom...But however...I think most other people DO feel the same way as me and Revol in viewing the Holocaust as evil and AREN'T likely to (however inadvertantly) use tame language like "selfish" to describe what is generally regarded as the worst atrocity ever perpetuated upon humanity by other segments of humanity. Believe me..it is you and John that are out of step on this one..not me and Revol!

Lone Wolf
Jul 17 2006 03:05
John. wrote:
Lone Wolf wrote:
John - Sheesh! roll eyes We have tried to move away from the "supernatural" thing about 2 pages ago. Reference Revols post - he seems to get where I am coming from here.

Okay so what do you mean rather than evil then? Like I suggest above, the existence of people who only want to do calculated harm to others?

Quote:
However really really appreciate you "getting" that they do well in high-ranking, competitive authoritarian settings. Exactly - and whether they are that or the "serial killer" variety - it is all about control.

This is quite common knowledge now isn't it. Thanks largely to Channel 4 documentaries.

Quote:
However, sorry, but the penultimate point you made is just bonkers!!! The bit about how the aim is to "just please themselves not nec. hurt others ..whether it means hurting others or not.... ". Oh dear...John what you have just described is hedonism!!!!! Not wickedness/evil/psychopathy or whatever you want to call it.....What am I referring to is a planned, calculated, "intelligent" practice of mental and physical torture for the express person of destroying another. How can this fit the description you just gave???? Wow!!! Are you really THAT naive?? In the recent brilliant Holocaust doc. narrated and written by Rees

Ok well I'd like to stop things here for a second. The statement I made was about individual psychology. This cannot be applied to world politics. The general definition and diagonises of psychopathy are "as a condition characterised by lack of empathy or conscience, poor impulse control and manipulative behaviors" (Wikipedia). Having no conscience, they are just out to please themselves, in whatever way they see fit (whether it involved harming people or not). Would you disagree with this?

Now if you want to talk about the Nazis, you can't be talking about psychopathy. For one, if the people who carried out, supported and collaborated with the Holocaust were "psychopaths" it would mean that they had been and would have remained psychopaths. And the proportion of them in the population must have risen way above the usual 1%. You can't explain mass human (i.e. historical) activity with individual psychology. Mass behaviours are determined largely by historical trends, which are heavily shaped by economic factors. In Germany early 20th C, this would have been the huge revolutionary wave after 1918, and the strong workers' movement which had to be crushed. Ideologically this was achieved by blaming the Jews for society's ills rather than capital. Psychopathy, personal feelings, emotions or psychology are pretty much irrelevant to this. Though it's very likely that the NSDAP was probably an area where psychopaths could do well. I'm not sure Hitler was one though. Did he genuinely love Eva Braun, for example? Cos psychos are pretty much devoid of emotion. Anyway if it hadn't've been for Hitler some other individual who may have believe utterly in his cause, or was just pretending to advance himself, would've filled his shoes anyway.

Quote:
Oh dear.... Sad John - to try and give you the benefit of the doubt - you have admitted before you don't know too much about the Holocaust - I remember you saying you learnt a lot from seeing "The Pianist"...I suggest you learn a bit more about the nature of, for want of a better term to not use the "E" Word ( Wink ) "Man's inhumanity to Man.." because you do not seem to be able to comprehend it...and that troubles me. Try telling a Holocaust survivor the Nazis did not intend to harm them... Confused I still love you John..but..oh dear.. I am troubled....

Well that was quite a patronising post! I am aware of the brutality of the Holocaust - what I thought was good about the Pianist was the way it showed how the thin end of the wedge, combined with swift punishment of dissent, meant that there was almost no resistance to it happening, even if most people may have opposed it. But of course as other people have said many Germans believed or were were brainwashed into believing that Jews were sub-human, and damaged decent god-fearing Germans, therefore wiping them out was a good thing.

John - Wish I knew how to do the quote separation thing even though you and Jef keep telling me....

I hope part of this was answered in my repsonse to Saii..yes a lot of brain-washing went on..But where I part company with you is your assertion that "personal feelings and emotions are irrelevant.." (when it comes to mass socio/political events/the brain-washing thing.) I disagree because they are NEVER irrelevant. How can they be?? Unless humans cease being human??? Hence my choice of avatar - political and psychological issues can never be separated - they are always inter-related but in times of historical turmoil they inter-relate in different ways. Whilst the majority are brain-washed, some (at one extreme) use the upheaval to commit acts of great evil. And some to carry out acts of great courage. I believe human behaviour operates across a broad spectrum.A minority will, whataver the circs, choose to do ill. A minority, whatever the circs, will choose to do good. Why this difference? There are psychological answers I think...but the purpose of this thread is to draw attention to that tiny minority who, for whatever reason, have to be kept isolated from the rest of the community AND that in a minority of cases their actions are a result of the impulse to practice evil for its own sake...

Re: the love/Eva Braun thing - these peeps may have physical and emotional needs at some level but this would NOT give them the ability to give and receive love in the context of a functional and healthy relationship because they would not be capable of that...

Lone Wolf
Jul 17 2006 03:12
Nemo wrote:
revol68 wrote:
couldn't we say that someone has been so brutalised, so fucked up, that they are evil.

I think that the use of the word "evil" often (if not always) obscures whatever the real situation might be. Calling a murderer evil doesn't really say anything. The point is not that they are evil, it is that they have caused harm. Calling someone evil is almost always used to justify "evil" actions against that person as being just (e.g. capital punishment). It is a blank cheque for revenge.

I believe saying evil "does" say something. Because harm is such an understatement. ..I am glad you say "almost always used"...Because I do not use this in this way. And if anyone had an "excuse" to do so, it would be someone like me as I have been on the receiving end of it...

Lone Wolf
Jul 17 2006 03:17
lem wrote:
I think, I've heard that before somewhere. I think in terms of practical issues like harm, so yeah, I agree with the sentiment.
Quote:
Unless you mean people or things done only to harm people

Something done with no other motive other than to hurt, would be so statistically impossible, or whatever, that the evil could only be of concieved possible if by demoic origin, or some other magic. I think. Could you imagine a action motivated entirely by emapthy. People are all about conflicts, apparently.

My first day at full time work, a long time ago, someone told me that Thatcher was evil. I just agreed, thought he was on to something, anyway.

Lem..I think I answered this one a couple of posts OK. There ARE a minority of people whose only motive is to hurt. There is also a tiny minority whose only motive is to love. The rest of us are located somewhere else along this spectrum of..You have raised a v. imp point which I raised earlier..some evil-doers "get way with it" because people do not want to comprehend it...hence the "Noone will believe you.." quote from the Nazis to the Jews...We must believe and be vigilant. It doesn't mean accusing or going on a witchhunt..it just means being aware...

Lone Wolf
Jul 17 2006 03:23
revol68 wrote:
Nemo wrote:
revol68 wrote:
I think it is possible to have a concept of Evil that avoids such pitfalls.

Good luck trying to to come up with one and trying to convince everyone to use your version of the word. Let me know how it works out.

revol68 wrote:
And lets face it in everyday life we use it, I call people evil fuckers all the time.

I just call them fuckers.

I think most people are capable of saying somethings evil whilst recognising a need to examine it's root causes.

So i have no worry there, you patronising cock.

So what about someone who sexual assaults their 6 month child with a broken bottle? I'd say that's pretty fuckng evil.

Youse just reek of pussy lil liberals.

Yeah..exactly Ret...you can use this word AS WELL AS embarking on an analysis..not instead of..you can hardly say Revol and I are aping the right-wing press... neutral

I am glad Revol reminded us all of the kind of behaviour we are talking about here..We don't want to be over-emotive in discussing these things..but you guys (Revol excepted) are not emoting at all...which I find troubling...

Lone Wolf
Jul 17 2006 03:45
Nemo wrote:
revol68 wrote:
And I think Lone Wolf was trying to raise this, that we shouldn't let a word of such history and emotional impact fall into the service of ignorance.

My point is that it has already fallen into it, and is not needed anyway, .

Nemo - Oh it is needed. Agree with Revols point at its misuse.

The reason it is needed is because it is a very real phenomenon that I and countless others have experienced. The reason this word is needed is because all other words do NOT convey the horrors of what has been experienced and are inadequate and inaccurate. It is needed so that those on the receiving end of atrocity recieve the validation they need. Having the worst horrors one human can carry out to another downplayed as "selfish" or whatever is just an insult to those of us who have suffered in this way. I DO know no insult was intended..but please guys...Your reaction to what I have said EXACTLY mirrors what I say about the killers of Jamie Bulger getting all the attention and Mrs. Bulger being ignored.You have done the same. Not ONE of you have expressed either empathy or curiosity as to my views, experiences and how I arrived at them. You have had a cast -iron chance to ask qs of a real-living survivor of humanitys appalling excesses..you could have asked me HOW I thought the "evil" incidents were different to the plain ol' wicked ones. You could have offered empathy. You could have showed humanity. You could have asked, what, as a survivor of atrocity, my solutions would be, what help I could offer others, what help I might need...I just think it is a waste of an opportunity...

We need to use the term because to use a more-watered down term just makes people like me continue to feel unheard. When people call a spade a spade and (even without knowing the gory details, just knowing really bad things have happened to me..I think political torture says it all really) say...LW.."that is shocking..appallling....these people/acts are evil.." it makes me feels sooo much better. But most people don't do that. They minimise my experiences/these kinda experiences and in so doing cause immense harm to those few of us brave enough to come out of the closet...

I am not that surprised..but I AM disappointed...Revols humanity and Daves empathy give me some hope..but really you other guys...please...It may be hard to take on board and discuss but believe me I have to live with the reality of it for the rest of my (half) life...

Yours Sorrowfully

LW X

Nemo
Jul 17 2006 08:26
Lone Wolf wrote:
I am not that surprised..but I AM disappointed...Revols humanity and Daves empathy give me some hope..but really you other guys...please...It may be hard to take on board and discuss but believe me I have to live with the reality of it for the rest of my (half) life...

I am not entirely unemotional, but this thread has mostly been fairly abstract and about remote events which I have no real connection with (Holocaust), which is why I have not been particularly emotional about it. Believe me, if I sit and watch footage of the Holocaust, of the death camps, and the skeletal figures of the victims, of the piles of emaciated bodies in mass graves, then it certainly effects me.

I too have been subject to what I might call evil if I used the word. It did effect me tremendously, and still does. And I am sorry that something evil happened to you. (I never suggested that the victims should be ignored.)

I just didn't see the point in bringing that to a thread which seemed to be about analysis (or at least it did when I jumped in). If you look back I did say that the word probably effectively describes revols emotional reaction, and that maybe this had some use.

Rob Ray
Jul 17 2006 09:17

Irritating, this conversation kicked off while I was down in London/round a friend’s so haven’t been able to read or reply til now –currently snatching bits in between working so’s not to look like I’m slacking…

Revol Good and Bad should, again, only ever be used as personal statements. They are in fact a very good indicator of why I have a problem with using ‘evil’ as a definable term (using it as an emotive term with no pretense that it means anything beyond your own views I would have no problem with). You can say Crass is bad music, but clearly, on an economic level they did well for themselves, and I know people who say they are good. Who then is correctly applying the term here? I would argue each in their own terms is correct.

With the Holocaust, while the victors argued, in a way that I would agree with, that the action of mass murder was wrong, and should not be repeated for the sake of the continued health of humanity, it is only one side of the coin to say they were ‘evil’. The Nazis would have (and did, and still do) argue that they were doing humanity a service – that they were doing a ‘good’, though perhaps an unpleasant one. The emotive terms surrounding such actions are the projection of personal and/or social emotions surrounding the act onto it. Now I don’t have a problem with people showing a bit of emotion on a subject, I’d be worried about anyone not repulsed by the concept of mass murder, but there is a difference between that and the premise of this thread, which is whether evil, as an entity definable in a way that can be agreed by all and scientifically examined, exists.

Quote:
Capitalism to me is an evil system, it is not the product of any singular agency nevermind a devil, but it is an evil system, in the sense it's a very very very very very bad system, if you know what I mean.

But to capitalists it isn’t, and they outnumber you.

I’d argue that capitalism is an unfair system (which is something definable), an exploitative system, an inefficient system, an undemocratic system. I might, after a few beers, call some capitalists ‘evil fuckers’ as a personal mode of expressing my distaste for them. However that wasn’t what was on the thread title. Explain why capitalism is evil to a capitalist – not as an exercise in listing where people have died etc, but as an exercise in saying ‘this’ bit is evil. Property rights? Ownership of a factory, is that evil? To most people right now, that is no more evil than eating duck for dinner. The reason evil cannot be used as a definable term is because it has never been designed as one. It is like saying someone’s a bitch or a bastard – meaningless outside your personal context for it.

edit: Lone Wolf, I am truly sorry that you had to suffer, and please don't think that I don't care, because I don't like to see anyone suffer let alone a person who is clearly extremely decent.

Rob Ray
Jul 17 2006 10:51

Would you like me to get you a dictionary?

Having said that, I agree that the perceptions of words can change, but that has really very little to do with my argument, as I’m sure you’re aware. There is a qualitative difference between for example, the concept of inequality (ie. one person has more than another), and of ‘evil’ (measured by what exactly? You keep referring to this, but can you direct me, if you please, to the tome which defines every action ever taken and places it on the line between evil and good?).

the button
Jul 17 2006 10:54

It's the Hegelian distinction between infinity & bad infinity, innit.

Some on this thread would like to say that evil is located on the continuum of very, very, very, very....... bad (i.e. bad infinity as seriality). Others want to say that it's categorically different. Whether this is possible without invoking transcendence remains to be seen...... "Difference" doesn't equal "transcendence," of course.

davethemagicweasel
Jul 17 2006 11:39

Fuck! I just typed out a long reply to this thread and then lost it! Grrrr angry

Right, to star again:

We seem to have got stuck debating whether or not it would be either useful or possible to (re)claim the word 'evil' from a usage that implies an intrinsic property to an act or a person, or whether the usage of the word in that sense is so prevalent as to make its use more confusing than useful.

Personally, I think that the word is so commonly used to shut down or channel debate in certain directions (witness the way the r/c label whichever dictator they've decided to bomb the shit out of as "the new Hitler" every single fucking time) that I'd like to find a different way to express myself that would be clearer. However, as I think this thread has shown, there doesn't seem to be a word that we can use instead that will carry anything like the emotional force that is sometimes needed.

Earlier on, LW was making a distinction between 'wicked' and 'evil' that has since been buried. I'd say I've encountered my fair share of the wicked - through a combination of bullying, muggings, getting beaten up and being threatened at syringe point once. Maybe I've been lucky, but none of these people fit LW's description of evil, I think they were either desperate (the guy with the syringe trying to rob the shop I was working at), or were out for power and self satisfaction (bullying & mugging) - so they would fit the idea of being motivated by being selfish, since they were out for themselves regardless of the affects on others, rather than just for the enjoyment of causing suffering.

So, just to recap, on page 2 LW's definition of 'evil' was:

Lone Wolf wrote:
What was far far more scary was what I felt in the presence of those I would label - for want of a better word - evil. This is the difference: Evil has an intelligence. What emanates from these people is not emotive or messy or rageful or hateful or spontaneous or clearly bonkers etc as with the damaged peeps. It is - being in the presence of people in whom evil so suffuses their being there is nothing else TO these people but an empty shell. I do not mean they cannot be functional in society - the three people I am talking about had (and still have... Twisted Evil ) senior positions. No- what I mean is this functionality is a mere cloak to shield them. It has no other purpose. The difference is this. For whatever reason - they have no conscience. Whatsoever - none. We are kinda talking Shipman territory here. Some people think those who commit evil have something the rest of us don't have - an evil gene or whatever. But no - it is a lack. There is no humanity in these people - therefore there is nothing that can be reformed/rehabilitated etc. For the difference is - with the damaged people however much they resist/rant/rave/deny deep down they would like to change. Whether on not they are capable of it depends on a) their free will and b) what help if any society gives. With the evil peeps they really do not want to change one iota. They are what they are. And they love it. Believe me.

What we have is a negative definition of what evil is - it is a lack, rather than something separate in its own right. A lack of empathy for others, but there is also the idea that these people genuinely love what they do and have made a deliberate choice to do it. At least, that's what I take it to mean.

However, I'm not quite sure that this is qualitatively different from the 'wicked' category, because in my experience the wicked people have a lack of empathy and certainly do get a thrill out of what they do to others. Were all these people evil? Or is evil necessarily a complete and total absence? Is it the love of what they do that sets them apart from those who merely enjoy it? Does that make it an entirely separate category distinct from the wicked, or the end of a continuum, the fullest expression of wicked?

Caiman del Barrio
Jul 17 2006 15:53
revol68 wrote:
Quote:
the premise of this thread, which is whether evil, as an entity definable in a way that can be agreed by all and scientifically examined, exists.

what?

This is fucking absurd, no word is stable, no word is agreed by all and can be scientifically examined.

Sai this is absurd positivism. Language is produced, negoiated, refined and challenged.

I agree, yet this acts against your line for the most part. Language is a process, and some words are more diverse than others. I think the word "evil" has an entire spectrum of meaning, but its root is in religious terminology. You talk about reclamation yet I recognise that in its daily tongue in cheek usage in reference to, say, Feta cheese, brown pasta etc etc.

I have to echo other posts on this thread (including my own) when I ask what actual use does this word have in a critical discourse?

RedCelt
Jul 17 2006 17:23

I have to believe that there is such a thing as Evil as a glance at history would confirm it ; the Holocaust one of a number of clear examples. People also cause suffering to others on a smaller scale; this too is Evil.

red n black star

Postal
Jul 17 2006 18:05

i interrupted a jackdaw murdering a blackbird today in the strawberry patch. it didn't need to as there are an absolutely absurd amount of berries growing on our plentiful supply of fruit bushes, so there's no competition for food.

but it killed it anyway, i found the wee thing with it's brains exposed dying on the floor, i went to fetch a hatchet to put it out of it's misery, when i came back it was dead already and i had to bury it in an unused vegetable patch

is the jackdaw evil? and is the blackbird an innocent victim whose family require compensation in the form of strawberries and wriggly worms?

put that in yer rizla and toke on it

-po

Lone Wolf
Jul 17 2006 18:57

Postal - Er...animals are amoral...so this is not a relevant example of what we are talking about here...we are talking about humans who have the ability to make conscious choices...or can they depending on their pathology? This is all part of the debate...so no cigar, po. Soz! wink

Will post more later after work peeps.

Love

LW X

Postal
Jul 17 2006 20:26

good point about the animals being amoral bit, i'm not trying to be a wind up or anything, just thought i'd pop it in cos it happened ad it occured to me looking at this thread. granted, i haven't read the whole thread, cause it's awfy long.

but it does seem that moral codes aren't universal, even amongst human societies. in primitive times it was often common practice to leave unwanted infants, ie. disabled children or those the tribe felt they couldn't support, out to die in the cold, and that wasn't considered evil by those people, it was (possibly, i say, not having met any ancient primitive folx to talk to) just considerd necessary for the prolonged existence of the tribe, basically meaning the intyerests of the group are more important than the interests of the individual.

different now of course, i'm sure anyone that went and left their new-born infant out on the moor to compete with the elements and the wildlife would be instantly branded as evil by the vast bulk of modern society. it's just that moral codes change, so definitiions of good and evil change, therefore i reckon evil is only relative to the culture, place and situation, and there can't be a universal idea of badness, if you know what i mean. having not read the thread i'm probably repeating something that's been repeated several times, but there you go.

as it goes, i still think the jackdaw is an arsehole, and jackdaws are the wankers of the avian kingdom if you ask me, but i'm probably just being speciesist and will soon be recieving a visit from the Jackdaw Liberation Front. hell, maybe the blackbird deserved it

-po

johno
Jul 17 2006 21:12

I think we use the term ‘evil’ when we want to distance ourselves from something, when we don’t want to understand it, the person or action, or frame it within a context, as to do so would be horrifying to our self-image, it would fracture our sense of self. I think we can defend ourselves against the anxiety of acknowledging our own destructive impulses, if not actions, by dissociating these aspects of our self. Thus in saying an act or a person is evil we are precluding any understanding that could lead to the possibility of recognition or empathy, and the unbearable anxiety and distress that would surely follow. It allows us to externalise inner conflict that arouses rage, anger, and hate - it allows us to disavow it. Of course evil exists (in a constrcuted sense), we need it to. neutral

johno
Jul 17 2006 21:51

I think you are looking at the economic, social and political factors that shape such actions, which of course are completely relevant and clearly play a massive role here. But I think you're missing out an other piece of the picture in that these forces are all still external to one degree or another. I think my point, whilst agreeing with what you say, but not articulating it, was going a step further, or in a different direction (possible up my own arse) to talk about the, *takes a deep breath* destructive impulses within our own unconscious that we seek to repress, disavow and dissociate *ahem*. I think I’m saying that we all know that under certain circumstances we might act a certain way, that’s acceptable, what is perhaps more anxiety provoking is to acknowledge aspects of (seemingly) needless hate and destruction within ourselves - to empathise with evil we must acknowledge, to some extent, aspects of ourselves that we want to shy away from, putting it mildly.

Hmmm, I'm running close to coming off with some essentialist shite, by saying something a bit, er, mad like…, perhaps this isn't the setting. I’ll leave it there. embarrassed

On a side issue, you say “…the evils of the state and capital, abstracts that are perhaps truly "evil" in that they care nothing for desires, passions or needs”, but doesn’t capital create and then pander to certain desire, needs and fantasies? I think I maybe just don’t fully grasp the sense of the word ‘capital’, in the Marxist context, given my naivety.

revol68 wrote:
here take your hypnotist shite and shove it up your bum, and stop trying to read my mind.

I’m coming round to your place now to section your ass and feed you some grey sludge my boy! twisted

johno
Jul 17 2006 22:21
revol68 wrote:
It's obvious that we could be the same under similar circumstances but the simple fact is we aren't,

er, I think you are actually agreeing with my thoughts on these matters. You are also in fact implying that internal psychical factors do play a role when you say that we aren’t all the same under similar circumstances, thereby suggesting that external forces must mediated by internal psychological factors - I'm not presenting that as something new, just clarifying what we seem to be saying.

revol68 wrote:
we can not remove our perspective from where we actually are.

You know I agree with this, so I’m not really sure what you are making of it here.

revol68 wrote:
Capital doesn't care about desires per se, only how it can use desires to expand itself.

Again, isn’t this what I was getting it when I said it creates and then exploits them, of course I don’t think that someone at nike really gives a fuck about my foot. I don’t understand why you always present a point as if it is somehow opposed to what I’m saying - why always so adversarial? We've already talked about this defensive tendency... wink

Anyhows, this is all well off topic and I stand by my original point. Talk to me some other time about this other stuff.

johno
Jul 17 2006 23:07
revol68 wrote:
my point is that I am judging an act as evil, i can recognise causes, reasons and circumstances but I can not deny that the act is evil from my perspective.

Well of course, FFS!! roll eyes And er, I wasn’t trying to abstract myself from my own judgements – I don’t know where you got it from that I was suggesting I was somehow providing an objective perspective where I could suspend my own beliefs and values. I actually think I was doing the opposite in trying to examine the role that casting something as ‘evil’ can play principally for me, but also, in my experience, for others.

What we hate in others can often tell us a lot about ourselves if we dare to look closer. However saying something is evil, hinders this examination, thereby preventing us not from just discovering things that might overwhelm or threaten us, but also, in some circumstances, things we secretly wish for or desire - whilst decieving ourselves in the process.

revol68 wrote:
well therefore capital doesn't actually have desires beyond it's own parasitic existance.

Er again, I’ve acknowledging this, and agree with it. Meh. confused + wall

revol68 wrote:
Why do you need to analysis my every thought and behaviour

I’ve thought about this long and hard, both in my own ‘reflective space’ and my EXTENSIVE personal therapy (thank you Geoff wink ). And, well, its slowly occurring to me that it might be something to do with my controlling nature and megalomaniacal tendencies, although I’m sure you’ll disagree with this - you won't will you, you better not or I'll show you the back of my hand you dirty little bitch..., er sorry embarrassed embarrassed .

Goodnight.

Caiman del Barrio
Jul 17 2006 23:36
revol68 wrote:
To Alan,

Okay, say we no longer use the term evil (and in general I don't beyond emotional outburst), when we examine someone who cares for no one, who kills and rapes for pleasure, and who is unable to empathise on any level, well do we call them evil, their acts evil or do we call them a socio path?

If you're Jack you call them an "antisocial" but I guess I'd better assume that most people don't project quite that much. wink (Although if I'm understanding Johnno correctly, he seems to be saying that apparently we do?)

Quote:
But a sociopath is not defined by somesort of medical framework, it is defined by the persons actions. So labelling someone a sociopath tells us no more than labelling them evil on the basis of their "evil" actions.

Well...yes I'd agree it possibly tells us less, in that it doesn't imply that they were sent by the Devil himself. I think "sociopath" would be far more of a useful and relevant term than "evil" in this example.

Quote:
But what labelling someone a sociopath allows us to do is to objectify our own subjectivity, our own judgement. It allows us to pretend to being objective, scientific, enlightened above the crude passions and interested perspectives.

That's making the assumption that it's being used pejoratively though. I mean, what if it were being used by a fellow sociopath to describe someone else? If you'll allow the absurd hypothesis.

Quote:
I am quite capable of using "evil" in a flippant hyperbolic way whilst also using it in a serious manner in relation to the holocaust, acts of murder, rape and torture.

Good for you. I'm still unconvinced though.