Your Better Self > Primal Injunctions > Meaning of «Restrain Evil» > Evil ≠ Bad

Evil ≠ Bad

Bad = Assignation of Negative Value

We usually assign a negative value to anything causing us distress or harm. The THEE term for a negative value is bad, and its opposite, i.e. positive value, is good.

The common view (e.g. see Catholic encyclopaedia) that evil is "the opposition to the desires and needs of individuals" is confusing and unhelpful. It leads to ascribing «evil» to things like earthquakes, sickness, ageing, accidents, physical discomfort, poverty, disappointment, physical pain, limited intelligence.

Such physical, biological and emotional phenomena are indeed often, but not invariably, "in opposition to human desires". However, that simply means that we regard them as bad. This has nothing to do with evil in common-sense terms or as formulated in THEE.

The common equation of pain and suffering with evil is particularly inappropriate. Even calling such things «bad» is often mistaken and suggestive of a limited perspective.

The only reasonable position is that the good v bad axis is something quite different from the good v evil axis. In THEE that is reflected in the taxonomic location and formulae: good v bad is intrinsic to PH6, while good v evil is intrinsic to RH'.

The Puzzle of Evil

To repeatEvil is the label suitable for:

  Note:  Violation is a special and extreme case of the first item.
• Many restrict evil to this extreme case: cf. this account.

The present analysis suggests that reducing or restraining evil is about judging what the situation calls for from you personally, while using Primal Injunctions to prevent egotistic tendencies from intruding inappropriately.

ClosedDo Consequences Matter?

Who Judges?

Each person is responsible for their own actions. Choice is part of action. So a person has an obligation to judge what is the greater good or lesser bad at the moment of choice. This is a transcendentalist approach to ethical choice (PH'6L7). Other approaches are societally driven in one way or another.

When others consider someone else's choice, they may use a different approach e.g. a utilitarian approach that looks at anticipated consequences, or a conventionalist approach that looks at what is acceptable. That could produce a very different conclusion. Even if they applied a transcendentalist approach, they might well reach a different conclusion.

If the matter is subjected to some formal or public appraisal, then judgements are liable to draw on cultural criteria. Societies provide three great frames of reference for making ethical judgements (sPH"6-G5)custom-G51, law-G52 & morality-G53 (usually as defined by the prevailing religion).

In the arena of humanity-as-a-whole, the relevant frame of reference must be purely personal. Applying your personal conception of being human to another is fraught with difficulties. However, if great care is taken neither to project nor to presume, then it is possible to reach reasonable conclusions. That does not mean you are right. Exactly what you do with those conclusions is another matter, and one for you alone.

Is Power Bad or Evil?

"Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Power is not the issue: making power the prime good is the concern. In THEE, this is called being power-centred in social interaction.

Power-centredness is a mentality (or approach) to benefiting from social interaction, that has a close relation to evil because:

The associated set of THEE frameworks makes it clear that power-centred principles are essential to function effectively in society: for cooperating, for career development, for commercial competition, for market regulation and more.

Power-centredness is therefore not intrinsically bad, but it does intrinsically tempt evil choices. It represents a human tendency that we each must watch out for, both in ourselves and in others. Criminality aside, the approach definitely produces good. The problem is that more good could often be attained with a little extra thought and effort using other ways of interacting.

Originally posted: 7-Dec-2012

All posted material is part of a scientific project and should be regarded as provisional. Visitors are encouraged to think through the topics and propositions for themselves. Copyright © Warren Kinston 2009-2016.
All Rights Reserved.

comments powered by Disqus