Beyond Beyond Good and Evil

If evil can be defined as processes that work against human happiness and natural balance, then we can agree that evil exists and therefore that good also exists, those forces that add to human happiness and natural balance.  The effort to live without these notions is a failed experiment, a kind of hubristic aim to eliminate the spiritual effort that is necessary to sanity.

Individual evil, simply put, is a conscious choice to surrender to forces of corruption and human suffering out of fear or laziness.  How many of us are innocent in this regard?

One thing I learned from attending 17 years of public schooling is the power of percentages.  One can get passing grades, even excel, while making continuous mistakes, even while refusing to let go of particular weaknesses, making up for them with compensatory strengths.  The same way of judging academic success is how I look at people, and how much they tend toward evil or good.  These judgments may be dangerous, like fire can be dangerous, but in my opinion life without such judgments is a greater danger, one driven by a refusal to submit to reality, or worse a fear of looking at it.

We will advance as a species when we can reenter a public conversation about virtue, one infused with a sophisticated understanding of our past mistakes.

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9 Comments

  1. globatron
    March 29, 2010

    I’m still unconvinced there is good and evil. I think those only exist within the human paradigm.

    I feel consciousness is at it’s best when it thinks outside the human experience.

    If anyone can convince me that a black hole is evil or good then I’ll be willing to have a conversation about virtue.

    Reply
  2. Akbar Lightning
    March 29, 2010

    one cannot think outside the human experience…our human experience is what we are here to have…and i argue that part of the human experience is to confront evil, and in doing so discover the good within. i think the universe is a collision of darkness and light, and that even though both sides can be argued for, that the universe tends toward the light, to paraphrase MLK…

    i cannot interpret the conscious refusal to support good policy, driven by fear or greed, as anything other than evil.

    i do not think such a dichotomy makes life depressing or dark, rather i think it has the capacity to give us a sense of adventure.

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  3. globatron
    March 29, 2010

    I’m not sure it’s impossible to think outside the human experience. I think of human suffering often as a part of life. When thinking of mortality I can easily think outside of the human experience. I think of stars, and black holes, and infinity. Of course it’s my perception but it’s definitely not linear. I can also think of atoms, cells and mutating cells such as cancer. Is cancer evil? I don’t think so. Cancer is only cells that have gotten out of control and have decided to grow too fast. Is cancer trying to kill us or do those cells just want to exist?

    I understand your issues with bad policy creating suffering and defining it as evil. But evil is just a word. It does not really define what it is. What is greed? Greed is a cancer but on a social level. A greedy person wants more than others. A greedy person has little empathy for others. These things we define as good and evil are only words to define light and dark. The light (love) and the dark (evil). Of course this is just semantics but it’s something that I believe should be discussed, because of the universal level we are all playing our role in the evolution of our species.

    Also the good vs. evil thing plays right in the us vs. them mentality of the human struggle. It continues war. it is a continuation of our ongoing struggle internal and external.

    The way I see it without war, we would not desire peace. Eventually we might evolve past war or greed but without seeing the tragedy of it all our species would not learn the lesson it has not learned.

    These are my thoughts on the matter. The reason I defend this is because I so often hear healers say that people have brought disease into their lives by making bad choices, etc. and I’m tired of hearing that bull.
    A child born with a disease has not created one sin against humanity or himself and yet has to die?

    Or another example is for a politician to call another country evil. Or for one religion to say that another religion is evil. It’s like a big ball game. It’s the sport of it all I think. Good vs. Evil is playing at the Gator bowl. I know that’s simplified but that’s how simplified many people take it, actually I would say most.

    There are so many reasons that I find good and evil to be a very immature way to look at reality.

    And I could go on but I think you get my drift.

    Reply
  4. ken vallario
    March 29, 2010

    if you could kill those cells inside of you you define as cancer, then i am guessing that you would…those cells that are trying to exist are threatening your well being, as are those people who practice war and drop bombs on children. to kill them you have to make a judgment about value.

    the connection between the use of the words good and evil and warfare is one that demands a logical consciousness. to call a relationship with words semantics undermines the power of language.

    i would say that participation in warfare is evil, that solves that problem, because if i wish to be good i am therefore bound against violence…so the discussion can safely take place given that premise. it is, in fact, what i believe, that warfare is evil, and to confront warfare is to work against it, towards peace.

    there are conflicts in this universe, and a well lived life is one with challenges met, and such challenges must be met with a leap of faith where one believes irrationally in oneself, and does so against the odds.

    just because wicked people have co-opted this language does not mean that it is not an adequate means of describing things. this actually gives power over to those people, as if you are saying they may take our language from us. and frankly, when i see the republicans fighting to defend a wicked relationship with corporate exploitation, in that context i very much believe in a contingent sense of ‘us’ and ‘them’ and sometimes this is applicable. the evil ones love the fact that we are so allergic to judgment.

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  5. globatron
    March 29, 2010

    I dont’ agree but I am glad you feel passionate about it. I believe the problem is the very idea of evil.

    Cancer is not evil. I do believe that if something or a policy endagers your life you have the right to defend yourself. I do believe that our most innate nature is survival.

    So is someone engaged in warfare by trying to defeat cancer? Slipper slope isn’t it? Is someone engaged in warfare by defending their homeland? Does that make them evil?

    The problem I believe with the one’s called evil is not that they are evil but that they are insane. They lack the judgement to make good decisions. And usually this goes all the way back to the lack of love in their lives.

    I believe all “evil” can be cured by love and forgiveness.

    Reply
  6. ken vallario
    March 30, 2010

    call it insane, evil or disease…i am fine with that…but they are all negative judgments against others…do you agree with that?

    Reply
  7. globatron
    March 30, 2010

    hmm. well I guess the issue I have is the good vs. evil mentality is how it so easily it sets up the stage for us vs. them. And the problem with that is that once the other is dehumanized it becomes easier to take their lives or take away their rights. This is the lesson humanity has yet to learn.

    The title of this post is beyond good and evil. That’s where I think we need to collectively go as a species. good and evil is no longer needed if we openly communicate and forgive each other.

    The insanity I speak of is not a negative judgement. It is what it is, a psychological disorder. If addressed and treated an insane person can be a productive positive part of society.

    The insanity I speak of is that of serial killers, etc. Are they evil or insane?

    disease is not evil and can often be treated if not cured. So I guess we disagree on this one my good friend.

    I’ve enjoyed the discussion.

    Reply
  8. ken vallario
    March 30, 2010

    the title is ‘beyond beyond good and evil’
    Nietzsche wrote the book beyond good and evil
    and i think we need to move beyond that, beyond the kind of relativism that forces us to say disease instead of evil..

    what i mean is, think of the republicans for instance, do you really feel no distance between you and them? i do.

    now if we think of a serial killer as sick, does it really matter if we really don’t have a cure. the cure for social ills is peace, but in order to wage peace, we must be able to identify certain aspects of society as morally wrong, which is another way of saying bad or evil.

    just because there is an us and them, does not mean that one will think of them as inhuman, rather, it is a way of accepting a particular form of illness that is incurable. we imprison those who break public crimes, unless of course they are rich…where does that come from? it comes from the evil forces at work…i got no problem with that.

    i suppose another way of saying it is this, in order to make the judgment of saying somebody is psychologically disordered, you have to make the first judgment that you yourself are psychologically well-ordered…this is no different from the good/evil thing with one exception…with the clinical version there is the presumption that the other person has some goodness within that can be accessed. i make no argument against the presence of good within everybody..i simply believe some people will not yield to reason or goodness, that they will stubbornly hold onto power or abuse even at the high cost to others. i mean we could say they are sick, but that seems a bit bizarre, because how does that define how we relate to those people affected.

    anywhoo, have you been watching Jamie Oliver’s food revolution, it’s amazing. here is a person speaking truth in the face of resistance. you should see how these people fight against this person who is trying to get better food for their kids. their pride makes them reject the opportunity at a direct cost to their children. that to me, represents a form of functional evil.

    anywhoo, some more thoughts..

    Reply
  9. globatron
    March 30, 2010

    Right I missed that, beyond beyond good and evil. nice…

    Yeah Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution is truly inspiring. I’m definitely going to do some work about what he is doing.

    Reply

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