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Do you think humans are inherently "evil"?

 
 
Reply Sun 18 Oct, 2009 07:28 pm
I do think humans are inherently "evil". But first let me say that good and evil are terms that depend upon the society and reality we live in. In truth, both good and evil are based on perception and what we define each as.

In my opinion i believe society has come to define good and evil as mainly two ideas...

Evil: One is selfish and puts his/her needs above that of others. In all cases of "Evil" i believe a certain level if selfishness is involved. What we think of evil as is when someone puts others at sacrifice for their own personal gain and benefit. To give some examples, lying cheating and stealing are intolerant and "evil" acts that involve one putting his/her own desires (survival needs to trivial wants) above anyone else's desires.

Good: One is selfless and puts others above him/her. Giving, honesty, and fairness are opposites of what was listed above. These are the traits and quality of someone that is commonly deemed as "good" by society.

Why are humans inherently evil? Because humans are biologically programmed to meet our survival needs. Our desires naturally come before others. Unfortunately this of course is at the sacrifice of others' needs and wants. Human's are born with the idea of putting others' before themselves. In the most basic situation, we will desire to survive and meet our needs. Our wants naturally come before others'.

Again, evil and good are based on perception. One person's view of another person's "evil" may be different from that person's view. So for the purpose of proving the idea of humans being inherently "evil" we will assume that all "evil" acts are directly or indirectly related to someone being selfish in some way.

I believe we do have the ability to break free of this inherent selfishness and become a "good" person who may sacrifice for others and that may give care to others before themselves. This argument states that people are created selfish not that humans may not overcome this natural inheritance.

Selfishness is a biological survival trait purposefully designed to promote the well being of one's self without any sort of care for others. Naturally we focus on ourselves before anyone else. Because we as humans are aware of the others we must coexist with, we can understand the needs and wants of others and therefore have the choice to compromise of or possibly be a selfless person, one who is conscious and shows caring for those other than his/herself.

A neutral mindset is impossible to achieve because people will always have conflicting desires. One cannot be neither selfish nor selfless. Everyone has their wants and needs and how they prioritize those in relation to the wants and needs of others determines the type of person society will consider them.

Good and evil are again dependent on your whether your desires benefit yourself or if they benefit other people and possibly humanity as a whole. To survive we must have this inherent and natural selfishness to benefit ourselves above other or else our race would die off due to not being able to survive on our own.

The origin of conflict comes from many having similar if not the same wants or needs. Therefore, someone will get the get the short end of the stick. This will deem the victor, "evil".

So to conclude, all commonly considered "evil" acts will be traced back to one being selfish. We are naturally selfish because that is how we fight to survive. Evil is based on perception and i believe evil is how are race has come to survive.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 3 • Views: 18,371 • Replies: 83
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jgweed
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Oct, 2009 05:42 am
@Yogi DMT,
One might make a case for morality as such to be inherent in humans, as ethical questions seem to separate men from brutes, just as one could for ratiocination.
But this would appear to be separate from the question whether a particular ethical scheme is inherent or "natural" to us, and whether this is caused by our being a part of nature (and thus "shared" with animals) or for some other reason. A further line of inquiry might then become whether we should call this "natural" morality, morality at all if morality depends upon choices and responsibility for making them.
0 Replies
 
kennethamy
 
  0  
Reply Mon 19 Oct, 2009 08:51 am
@Yogi DMT,
Yogi DMT;98407 wrote:
I do think humans are inherently "evil". But first let me say that good and evil are terms that depend upon the society and reality we live in. In truth, both good and evil are based on perception and what we define each as.

In my opinion i believe society has come to define good and evil as mainly two ideas...

Evil: One is selfish and puts his/her needs above that of others. In all cases of "Evil" i believe a certain level if selfishness is involved. What we think of evil as is when someone puts others at sacrifice for their own personal gain and benefit. To give some examples, lying cheating and stealing are intolerant and "evil" acts that involve one putting his/her own desires (survival needs to trivial wants) above anyone else's desires.

Good: One is selfless and puts others above him/her. Giving, honesty, and fairness are opposites of what was listed above. These are the traits and quality of someone that is commonly deemed as "good" by society.

.


But most of us are neither selfish, nor are selfless. Most of our actions are neither the one or the other. When I eat my lunch today, that is neither selfish (I am not depriving anyone of something he is entitled to. I am just doing something which is in my own interest, but at no one else's expense). And neither am I being selfless. I am not acting against my own interest in favor of someone else. I did not give my lunch to someone who was hungry, and not eat the lunch myself.

So, according to your definitions of "good" and "evil", most of my actions (and, I suppose, the actions of others, too) are neither good nor evil, and so, neither are we.
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Oct, 2009 10:23 am
@Yogi DMT,
Evil isn't something people are.

Evil is something people do.

Pulling a trigger is a physically trivial act. Anyone can do it. But most people in this world do not choose to make such a decision. We all have the physical capacity to commit acts we'd judge evil. But most humans never do such things -- and being able to imagine committing an evil act does not make one evil.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Oct, 2009 11:22 am
@Aedes,
Aedes;98505 wrote:
Evil isn't something people are.

Evil is something people do.

Pulling a trigger is a physically trivial act. Anyone can do it. But most people in this world do not choose to make such a decision. We all have the physical capacity to commit acts we'd judge evil. But most humans never do such things -- and being able to imagine committing an evil act does not make one evil.


But when people intentionally do evil, aren't they evil?
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Oct, 2009 11:48 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;98512 wrote:
But when people intentionally do evil, aren't they evil?
Depends what you mean by "aren't".

If you say "He is evil", do you mean "is" as a predicative verb or as an identity?

If it's the former, then evil is a quality of the subject, just as "He is angry" or "He is sleepy" or "He is Canadian".

If it's the latter, then the two are synonymized.

People use the adjective evil to describe people who do evil things. But that can never be a universal assessment of inherent human nature unless you can prove that every single human, including babies, have committed evil acts.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Oct, 2009 03:22 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes;98524 wrote:
Depends what you mean by "aren't".

If you say "He is evil", do you mean "is" as a predicative verb or as an identity?

If it's the former, then evil is a quality of the subject, just as "He is angry" or "He is sleepy" or "He is Canadian".

If it's the latter, then the two are synonymized.

People use the adjective evil to describe people who do evil things. But that can never be a universal assessment of inherent human nature unless you can prove that every single human, including babies, have committed evil acts.


No, I don't think that anyone is identical with evil, anymore than when I say that butter is yellow do I think that butter is identical with yellow. The copula is a copula of predication, not of identity. I never said that people are inherently evil. Indeed, I said nothing about that matter. I don't even know what it would mean to say such a thing. I just pointed out that people do both good and evil things, but that most actions people do are neither good nor evil.
0 Replies
 
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Oct, 2009 03:40 pm
@Yogi DMT,
Ok, well, insofar as in conventional speech we can make evil the predicate of one who performs evil acts, then you cannot argue that humans are inherently evil (which is a statement of identity, or at least inseparability).

I can buy that all humans who have capacity for 1) action and 2) moral judgement are capable of doing evil things. I cannot buy that my 18 month old is inherently evil.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Oct, 2009 03:54 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes;98588 wrote:
Ok, well, insofar as in conventional speech we can make evil the predicate of one who performs evil acts, then you cannot argue that humans are inherently evil (which is a statement of identity, or at least inseparability).

I can buy that all humans who have capacity for 1) action and 2) moral judgement are capable of doing evil things. I cannot buy that my 18 month old is inherently evil.


Whatever "inherently evil" means, I don't think it mean that evil is identical with some person, or even mankind. After all. Catholic doctrine has it that all human beings are born with original sin. But they do not mean that human beings are identical with evil (whatever that would mean). To say that X is identical with Y is to say that X and Y are one and the same thing. Who would think that people and evil are one and the same thing? You have to consider what is meant by "identity". But I think that the doctrine of original sin does imply that people are inherently evil, i.e. born evil. But that does not mean anything about their being identical with evil. (I suppose you are not a Catholic. Catholics "buy" that your 18 month old is inherently evil. Otherwise, Christ would have died for nothing).
ahmedjbh
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Oct, 2009 03:57 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;98512 wrote:
But when people intentionally do evil, aren't they evil?


If they intend evil, then yes.

However, the question was "is humanity inherently evil", and even if evil is commited by some or even all of humanity, it would not automatically mean they are inherently evil.

Its an almost impossible question to answer until evil is defined, and further clarification as to what is understood by the term "inherently".

My own understanding would be that humanity is not inherently evil.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Oct, 2009 04:02 pm
@ahmedjbh,
ahmedjbh;98594 wrote:
If they intend evil, then yes.

However, the question was "is humanity inherently evil", and even if evil is commited by some or even all of humanity, it would not automatically mean they are inherently evil.

Its an almost impossible question to answer until evil is defined, and further clarification as to what is understood by the term "inherently".

My own understanding would be that humanity is not inherently evil.


As I have posted, the only notion I know of inherent evil is the Catholic notion of original sin. Otherwise, I am not clear what it means. Maybe it means that people are born with the capacity to do evil. And that is certainly true. They are.
0 Replies
 
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Oct, 2009 04:34 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;98592 wrote:
Whatever "inherently evil" means, I don't think it mean that evil is identical with some person, or even mankind.
Well, we could ask the original poster who introduced it in this thread, but it fairly clearly means to me the idea that all humans default to evil -- and if they aren't evil in their lives it's because they've overcome their intrinsic evil inclinations.

kennethamy;98592 wrote:
Catholic doctrine has it that all human beings are born with original sin... Catholics "buy" that your 18 month old is inherently evil
Catholic doctrine also has it that a dead infant has an automatic ticket to heaven if baptized. So original sin does not equate to all humans being inherently evil.
Yogi DMT
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Oct, 2009 05:03 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;98483 wrote:
But most of us are neither selfish, nor are selfless.


I believe this is because society forbids a selfish mindset. Just because we have the level of aware to consider the others around us, does not mean we will escape our primal selfish instincts on our own. Society sees selfishness as unacceptable and law does not allow such selfish actions as lying, cheating, or stealing. Society is keeping us from being a naturally selfish brute. Inherent means to be born with. Whether or not we are created with a selfish mindset or whether or not society has molded us into a non-selfish person are two different questions.

And again let me go over my personal definition of an evil act... An act which only serves personal benefit despite the care of others well-being.

Religious defines sin as evil. I would like to keep this argument confined to non-religious material. Religious definitions of evil are not the same as what reality and society defines evil as.

Quote:
Quote:
Whatever "inherently evil" means, I don't think it mean that evil is identical with some person, or even mankind.

Well, we could ask the original poster who introduced it in this thread, but it fairly clearly means to me the idea that all humans default to evil -- and if they aren't evil in their lives it's because they've overcome their intrinsic evil inclinations.


Yes, humans default to evil. No, not all humans are evil due to the reason listed above.

Inherently evil was explained above as yes it is definitely universal. Replace evil with selfish, inherently selfish. I believe all evil has a root cause of selfishness (And anyone please challenge me to relate any kind of evil back to selfishness). Mankind has a common understanding and agreement of evil and selfishness that not many would dispute.
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Oct, 2009 05:19 pm
@Yogi DMT,
Yogi DMT;98611 wrote:
Yes, humans default to evil.
There are some pretty strong evidence-based counterarguments to this. It's been shown under controlled circumstances that humans have an inherent aversion to being responsible for harm to others, and that this is a characteristic seen in animals as well.

In other words, it seems that humans default to commensal to humanity and symbiotic with those they care about, but both opportunism and violence require some threshold to be overcome.

You'd find this article interesting:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/13/magazine/13Psychology-t.html
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Oct, 2009 05:35 pm
Bearing in mind that what one set of people might consider and evil act will probably be considered good by another set of people, I would say that any person is capable of doing both - and probably in exactly equal proportions, though I have no way of saying for sure.

Rich
manfred
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Oct, 2009 05:45 pm
@richrf,
richrf;98619 wrote:
Bearing in mind that what one set of people might consider and evil act will probably be considered good by another set of people, I would say that any person is capable of doing both - and probably in exactly equal proportions, though I have no way of saying for sure.

Rich


OK,so is that a yes or no?
You know what,nevermind,i think i'll start a thread titled"Do you think simplicity is inherently "useless"?Relax richrf, i was only goofing around with you.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Oct, 2009 05:55 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes;98606 wrote:
Well, we could ask the original poster who introduced it in this thread, but it fairly clearly means to me the idea that all humans default to evil -- and if they aren't evil in their lives it's because they've overcome their intrinsic evil inclinations.

Catholic doctrine also has it that a dead infant has an automatic ticket to heaven if baptized. So original sin does not equate to all humans being inherently evil.


Well, that is another way of seeing it, I suppose. I suppose that is what the poster might have meant when he implied that people are predisposed to be selfish.

I don't see why the Catholic doctrine implies that we are not all born with original sin. But I am not really versed in this sort of thing.
0 Replies
 
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Oct, 2009 09:30 pm
@manfred,
manfred;98625 wrote:
OK,so is that a yes or no?
You know what,nevermind,i think i'll start a thread titled"Do you think simplicity is inherently "useless"?Relax richrf, i was only goofing around with you.


Would one characterize this post as good or evil?

Rich
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Oct, 2009 06:36 am
@richrf,
richrf;98619 wrote:
Bearing in mind that what one set of people might consider and evil act will probably be considered good by another set of people, I would say that any person is capable of doing both - and probably in exactly equal proportions, though I have no way of saying for sure.

Rich

What is it supposed to imply that people might disagree about whether an act is good or evil? The disagreement might be cause, after all, by a disagreement about the facts of the case. For instance, a group of people may believe in witches, and consequently that a certain old woman is a witch, and therefore, evil. We, on the other hand, know there are no witches, so the there is no reason to think the old woman is evil. Our disagreement is the result of our disagreement about whether or not there are witches. Once we agree on that (if ever we do) we will agree about whether the old woman is a witch. And, there is no good reason to believe in witches. So the ethical disagreement really depends on a question of fact; whether or not there are witches.
0 Replies
 
manfred
 
  1  
Reply Tue 20 Oct, 2009 08:03 am
@richrf,
richrf;98684 wrote:
Would one characterize this post as good or evil?

Rich


That's the 4th time you muzzled me kennethamy,now will you kindly answer the above question? A simple yes or no will work just fine
 

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