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The nature of evil - not an emotional discussion, purely intellectual

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by Sally, Mar 12, 2017.

  1. Sally
    Joyful

    Sally Active Member

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    My friend and I were discussing whether evil exists or whether it depends on your perception. Being vegan does make me wonder about it. Knowing the terrible things that are done to animals to provide us with food, it seems evil to continue to eat them when you are aware of their suffering, not to mention that the whole idea of raising creatures to eat is abhorrent. Especially when we discriminate between species as to what we are willing to eat and what we are not. Farmers often do not credit animals with emotions or even physical pain so they would not consider themselves evil. People have quoted the Bible to me that "God gave us animals to eat," and at the same time they pray to St Francis of Assisi.

    Eckhart Tolle says that nobody acts inappropriately from their own point of view.



    (Can we keep the Third Reich out of this?)
     
  2. Jamie in Chile

    Jamie in Chile Active Member

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    Many bad things are done in the name of laziness, stupidity or selfishness rather than outright evil.

    I also think true vegan compassion is related to a more innate, fundamental understanding of morality, whereas meat eating is related more to a belief (perhaps not explicit or conscious in most cases) that there is no morality only conventions and laws. I don't want to overstate this point, but I think is something in it, and maybe even something very important.

    It's difficult to give a definitive answer to this kind of question.

    EDIT: I'm not sure what I meant by the first part of this post where I originally wrote "evil cannot exist." Maybe I meant to put "can" instead of "cannot" anyway I have removed that.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2017
  3. shaun

    shaun Member

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    Evil is everywhere unfortunately .
    I used to think there was more good in the word but, my view is changing.
    People killing people for no reason at all.
    Animals getting slaughtered is also evil.
    I read somewhere, that meat sales in this country have fallen, I hope so.


    Who's knows what the future will bring.
     
  4. Sally
    Joyful

    Sally Active Member

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    When I try to tell my friend about the terrible life of farm animals she gets cross with me and says I'm being horrible for upsetting her. So then I'm the bad person. I wonder whether evil is just a side effect of fear, or whether it is something in itself. An animal will attack if it feels threatened. Do we eat animals because we know that physically we are the weakest creatures on the planet, so we keep them subjugated in the most extreme ways we can think of?
     
  5. Nashorn101

    Nashorn101 New Member

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    I believe that you can always find something "evil" that we ourselves or someone else has committed. You can split hairs to an endless degree and we still will never be righteous human beings.

    That being said, there is a difference between people who acknowledge the suffering that occurs in our world - whether it be to people or to animals - and act to curb it, and people who acknowledge the suffering that occurs in our world and do nothing about it. Those are the only two sides to the issue of who is evil and who is less evil.

    As the most basic example, quitting the consumption of meat due to ethical reasons is righteously based and is meant to curb certain actions against agricultural animals, actions which many people would consider "evil". However, a staggering number of people still consume grocery store meat, even after seeing the occasional picture or video on the news of animal abuse occurring in meat processing facilities across the world; and it doesn't even have to be physical abuse being done to animals. Is cramming as many cows or pigs or chickens as you can into an un-air conditioned token trailer for transportation to the slaughter house "evil"? By most people's definitions, that is considered evil to a certain degree, let alone what happens once they actually get to the slaughter house.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2017
  6. Plant Muncher

    Plant Muncher Guest

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    Evil... Purely a human construct like time or goodness or God.
     
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  7. Mark Mywordz

    Mark Mywordz Active Member

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    Ditto.
    But evil in my mind is associated with religions which use the concept to justify the killing of people who do not agree with them or people who are just different from the norms they consider important.
     
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  8. Plant Muncher

    Plant Muncher Guest

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    Truly, have you ever met an evil animal? Doubtful. What we consider "evil" today was just something people did millennia ago to please their Gods. Even the meaning of evil isn't consistent.
     
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  9. Forest Nymph
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    Forest Nymph Active Member

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    The nature of evil is the illusion of separation. Every action has a reaction, we are all made of stars - these are scientific truths. And within the spiritual truths of major world religions (and some not so major) the essential truth of our love or hate, our piety or sin, affecting the fabric of all other life on earth.

    For example, you cannot separate the sin of capitalist greed from poverty, you cannot separate the sin of factory farming from deforestation, you cannot separate the sin of war from the damage done to families who are civilians, you cannot separate the sin of adultery from the treatment of women as objects, you cannot separate the sin of treating animals as "things" from people beginning more and more to treat other people as "things"....there's actually no religion in particular which proves this the most - I see the truth of this in Taoism, Buddhism, Jainism, Judaism, and Christianity. One of the reasons that even left-wing atheists love Pope Francis is because he recognizes these truths to be self-evident. Because they are. They're natural law.

    The illusion of separateness, the wanton abuse of other living beings, the destruction of nature, and the failure to recognize the impact of sin on the greater community, is the nature of all evil.

    The culmination of this evil is "only I exist" or "only I matter."
     
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  10. Forest Nymph
    Scurvy

    Forest Nymph Active Member

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    Your friends' reaction is typical of modern people. Modern people don't like to be made aware they're doing anything "wrong" - it's why they don't like religion, it's why they don't like vegans, post-modernism and secular humanism has lead to a trend where people suffer the logical fallacy that "if it feels good, it must be good" and we can actively scientifically prove that that view is incorrect. Abusing animals is addressed in most world religions - while crazy evangelicals may rant and rave that God gave us animals to "use" there's actually no evidence of this in the Bible. Animals were created first, before man, and were originally intended to be "stewarded" by man - that means man is a baby-sitter or in middle management, stewardship doesn't mean "this was made for me" it actually means "I need to protect this for someone else or the greater good." Animal cruelty is actually frowned upon in every major world religion I can think of, if it's practiced in a more educated and theologically sound way.

    But the truth is that in general modern people don't like to examine the effects of their behavior. All religious beliefs aside, even putting veganism aside - Western people hate to be told their meat gluttony contributes to global starvation in developing countries, they hate to be told their enormous carbon footprints per capita are one of the main contributors to global warming. They get all indignant and just want to go watch TV and drink a milkshake. We can argue about this ten different ways, but in my view - and let me emphasize this is simply my conclusion - it's the loss of morality and religion in society that has lead to this. Amorality, and saying things like "evil doesn't exist" is precisely what leads modern people to be so childish and self-absorbed that they won't even logically accept when their actions can be scientifically proven to be causing global destruction, human suffering, and animal abuse.
     
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  11. Plant Muncher

    Plant Muncher Guest

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    Your points sound exactly like someone that says... The sky is blue therefore all cats have souls. Huh? A clear logical fallacy. You state an obvious "truth" or more often a cliche, and then insert an ancillary or completely disassociated idea of your own. You are very hard to follow but one thing is clear. Your opinions portray a complete lack of original thought or any depth whatsoever. Sorry if that is a little harsh, I have a tough time suffering pseudo-intellectual gibberish. That is clearly my failing. I will try to be more tolerant in future posts.
     
  12. poivron

    poivron Member

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    I don't think it's helpful to discuss veganism in terms of good and evil. That comes too close to saying vegans are good and meat-eaters are evil. If this were the case, a meat-eater could never become vegan. Since most of us (with the exception of those who were lucky enough to be born to vegetarian or vegan parents) used to be meat-eaters ourselves (usually not very long ago), we have the advantage of knowing exactly how it feels to be a meat eater. And yet, it's so tempting to feel morally superior that we quickly forget -- we couldn't possibly imagine how someone could bring herself to eat an animal!

    There is a small minority of vegetarians and vegans who stopped eating animals as children, the moment they learned that what they were eating had once been a living animal. Such people could, in principle, claim moral superiority to everyone else. I have known one such person, however, and she would never claim to be morally superior to anyone. What made her vegetarian at such a young age was not superior morals but rather an admirable abundance of empathy.

    The fact that your friend cannot bear to hear about animal suffering does not make her a bad person. On the contrary, it shows that she's a good person who is doing something that is against her own principles. The reason she continues to eat animals is that she's afraid to stop eating them. She thinks she's incapable of what she sees as the self-sacrifice that veganism requires. She doesn't feel she has the psychological strength to go against her family, her co-workers or colleagues, and the majority of her friends. The right response to this, in my opinion, is compassion and understanding. One day, when she feels mentally ready, this person will become vegan. Simply by being vegan around her and avoiding being judgmental, you could help her along on this journey toward veganism. It may take years, but it will happen.

    Humans are social animals. If everyone is doing something, it becomes very hard for a single individual to do something that goes against the grain. This is why so many meat-eaters convince themselves that the situation isn't really so bad -- not all farms are like the ones in the videos; the animals don't really suffer; they aren't sentient, etc. Anyone who is making such excuses is not evil. A truly evil person -- a sociopath or a narcissist: a person who is literally incapable of empathy -- wouldn't need to make such excuses; they simply wouldn't care about animal suffering. The good news for animals is that the vast majority of people are good. One day, when it becomes less of a social stigma to be vegan, when it seems less difficult and less self-sacrificing, all of those people will go vegan. I think our job as vegans is to make that day come sooner rather than later.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2017
  13. poivron

    poivron Member

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    Plant Muncher, I like amost everything you write, but this last post is very harsh. We each have our own way of looking at things, which evolves over time based on our experiences. What sounds to one person like pseudo-intellectual gibberish might make another person feel good about life and their own place in the world. Is that really so bad, as long as one's philosophy isn't hurting anyone? I'm not really sure what I'm saying here, since I, too, am annoyed by pseudo-intellectual gibberish, but I'm not sure that criticizing someone's personality is useful. I really think that everyone on this forum is just trying to do their best in the world.
     
  14. Plant Muncher

    Plant Muncher Guest

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    Yeah, I know. You're right.
     
  15. Forest Nymph
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    Forest Nymph Active Member

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    I have studied both literature and environmental science in college, the reason you can't follow what I'm saying is because you're the one who lacks depth. The fact that you cannot even pinpoint WHY you disagree with my assessment of post-modern secular humanist morality reveals who is probably wrong here.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2017
  16. Forest Nymph
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    Forest Nymph Active Member

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    I'm okay. I think "Evil doesn't exist" is a knee-jerk, post-modern, Gen X, South Park-esque response to everything on Internet forums. I've been dealing with people like him for years. They think they're smarter than everyone else but their comments are actually the most devoid of meaning in most threads. Like "oooh surprise! A 50 year old male who watches adult cartoons is saying I'm a dumbass because I suggested that evil exists! He read Nietzsche one time so clearly I should bow down."

    But two wrongs don't make a right, so I'm not going to continue attacking him.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2017
  17. Plant Muncher

    Plant Muncher Guest

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    Not everyone.
     
  18. Plant Muncher

    Plant Muncher Guest

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    Great! Parse this sentence out for us oh educated one.

    "And within the spiritual truths of major world religions (and some not so major) the essential truth of our love or hate, our piety or sin, affecting the fabric of all other life on earth."

    You absolutism is the source of your anger, not me or anything I've written.
     
  19. poivron

    poivron Member

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    Plant Muncher, replace "affecting" with "affects", reread the whole post with an open mind a couple of times, and it will make sense. Let me try to paraphrase it. (My training is in experimental science, not philosophy, so I will probably mangle it, but I will probably also be easier to understand.) Since we're all part of the universe, everything one person does affects everyone else. What the major world religions call evil is not so different from what we see as evil in our society today: greed is tied to poverty; killing is tied to unnecessary wars; ending factory farming is tied to preserving the environment God gave us, etc. The ultimate evil is someone who refuses to recognize that s/he is a part of this universe -- i.e., someone who lacks empathy, referred to in psychology as a narcissist or a sociopath .

    As someone who is skeptical of religion, I don't agree with some of this reasoning, but it's far from being nonsense. Forest Nymph is trying to define good and evil in terms of ancient religion and modern thought at the same time.

    Finally, Plant Muncher, was there never a time in your twenties or thirties when you were absolutely passionate about something, to the point of radicalism? Let's be more understanding of our younger and more enthusiastic members.
     
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  20. poivron

    poivron Member

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    I don't agree with this. I don't believe it's selfishness or apathy or a lack of morality or religion that makes people eat animals but rather the desire to fit in and the fear of being shunned by one's peers for doing something they see as extreme. People are not as bad as you seem to think they are. That's a good thing because it means there is hope.
     
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