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The nature of good and evil


aevogt
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Guest Dreadlord

I agree, shaving is the greatest, darkest, blackest evil of them all. Nose hair, mondays, and THE TAX MAN to name a few more

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"The Whitecloaks becoming dark to fight dark is blasphemy. the Whitecloaks are the way they are because the leadership has been corrupt for so long that nobody remembers what they originally stood for. Sure people know they are supposed to hunt darkfriends, but the leadership has been so intent on personal power that that is all they do now-they vie for control over as many nations as they can. If they became dark to fight dark, why do they hunt down Aes Sedai? My understanding is that the man who had been controlling them-Pedron Niall-let his personal feelings come to much into the way of the Children. It is corrpution and greed that makes them the way they are, not the will to fight the Shadow."

 

The whitecloaks are pretty much as vile as a human can be.  We saw it in the Two rivers.  They are evil in that they don't truly hunt DF's they hunt someone to call darkfriend, regardless of the truth.  Evil.

 

"Secondly, Aridhol didn't become the way it is to fight the Dark. It didn't even evolve as it did willingly, it just happened. I dont think there is a good enough explanation for Aridhol and how it became as evil as the Shadow (its probably the only fault I can find with the whole set, the explanation for it seems a little half-hearted). It is a neutral party, a fence sitter, waiting to kill anyone who comes close enough to that fence."

 

Aridhol used the tactics of the Shadow to fight the Shadow and became as black as the Shadow itself.  That's right out of TEoTW

 

"And, the Shadow playing with its enemy to win isn't a requirement of evil in general, in this case it is simply an order the Dark One gave. Granted, Rand could have been killed at least twice in the first book alone, if the Myrdraal in the first chapter had killed him, or if Aginor and Balthamel just started throwing fire at Rand in such ammounts that nothing could be done. I agree that they do mess about, the forces of the Dark, but the reason is because the Dark One wants the Champion of the Light, the Dragon, to serve him. The Dark would be indestructible with Rand on side, that would be the greatest victory ever in their eyes. But it isn't the nature of evil to play with their enemies, just how it comes across in this set and some others. The nature of evil, the way I see it, is purely to further their own interests without paying attention to how it affects those they don't work with. While I think the way the Forsaken work against each other is, in a sense pointless, thats the whole point of the story if you get what I mean. The story wouldn't have been written, and we wouldn't sing RJs name in our hearts if everything hadn't been written as it is."

 

Youi've pretty much missed the point of the thread.  If the Shadow wanted to win, all it had to do was kill Rand and his friends on one of the many opportunities they had.  Evil cannot win, because of it's very nature to do exactly what it's doing. 

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;D Darn it! I knew pants were evil!

 

Graendal's favourite - I still don't think we are seeing eye to eye. I think good and evil are one in the same thing. (Confusing and seems completely stupid, but yes I think it's true.) Ambition is a good thing until you take it too far then people consider it evil. Galad has this noble ability to always do what he thinks is right, but he takes it too far and it becomes quite a hideous trait. I think Galad has it in him to tone that down a bit though.

 

Or another example from the real word...Technology! Technology usually makes life easier; it's supposed to help create more free time by cutting back on the time it takes to do other tasks; and medical technology advancements have helped save countless lives. It allows us to sit in different areas of the world and have this conversation; however, it can also have a lot of negative side affects. Technology has increased the affectiveness of of killing people inpersonally; it allows others to spy on you or steal your "identity"; computerized games and more advanced movies have taken away a lot of out door play time and creative thinking from a lot of child hood activities (and some would argue that it is helping cause a rise in cases of ADHD in children but I know little of that to defend or argue it).

 

Unfortunately I do not think there is a difference of a preceived good and a good in general. What is pure blantent obvious truth to one person is complete and udder nonsense to another. You're example of a person who does not understand what good is will do evil does not hold up. If you truly believe this, then what you are really saying is that the inherit nature of human kind is evil. I will say that human nature is both good and evil, and it's what we choose to act on that makes us good and evil.

Well I do think, whether or not a thing is good or evil, to be completely irrespective of what anyone thinks: it is good if people see accurately, but their opinion does not change whether or not a thing is good or evil. Yes, we all have different areas and degrees of knowledge and understanding, what we say and understand others say is of course dependent on that: the same sentence can mean many things, though I can still point out that there is still some exact thing that was meant. You took a good example, because I must confess I have no clue what you mean by the sentence: "what good is will do evil does not hold up."

 

What is seeing accurately? In my eyes church is evil. There is few good that has come from "the church" and a lot of evil. In some one else's PoV the church is like the greatest man made thing ever and they usually have their own personal reasons. The Aes Sedai think that they walk in the light and use the One Power to do good (well from the BWB we see that was most likely the case and now they just like to control things) and the Whitecloaks feel that they walk in the light and that the One Power should not be used by humans and it's something only the creator should have access to. Are the Aes Sedai all evil...no some are more good than others and some do what a lot would consider evil things to get to good results. Are the Whitecloaks all evil...I most seriously doubt it.

 

you didn't quote that full sentence there. I was actually paraphrasing you in that sentence. Just because some one does not know what good is does not mean that the person will not decide to do good rather than evil. I guess you could say that a person like that would go either way.

 

aevogt - this is where I might very from you. I think the only truely, pure deep down no good, evil in this book is the Dark One. (And now I'm starting to wonder if the Dark One isn't just the Creator's evil side that he locked away so he wouldn't act on the his own evilness...but that's a whole other topic for a whole other day). The fact of the matter is that these Forsaken can still USE Rand as a means to their own end. We see that Lanfear wants to over throw the dark one, and Rand could help her do that. We assume that the others want to be top dog in the DO's eyes, but is that all? They use a very dangerous weapon to get to one another. And it might be that Rand has denied the DO's offers to join him so many times that the DO wants to kill Rand himself instead of letting one of his minions do it. 

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Ambition is a good thing until you take it too far then people consider it evil. Galad has this noble ability to always do what he thinks is right, but he takes it too far and it becomes quite a hideous trait.

 

It's called too much of a good thing, and yes, it is possible to have it. Money is another perfect example. Everyone needs it, to some degree, some more than others, and there are very few people in the world who can genuinely say that they wouldnt like more, but there comes a time when some people want a bit more, and a bit more, even when it isnt needed - this is called Greed and it does hideous things to good people.

 

 

In my eyes church is evil. There is few good that has come from "the church" and a lot of evil.

 

On a personal level, and not to offend any religious people here, I completely agree with you. I do not believe, and I never will. I am a scientist and I am often baffled by what people will believe if it's written in a book ;)

 

I wanted to take this example and tell you about something which (genuinely) happened to me during my time at University. I shared a flat with three other girls, one was lovely, one was the most malicious and manipulative little thing you could wish to meet, and one was a devout CofE christian. I am not a believer and never pretend I am. My Christian friend took it upon herself to attempt to re-educate me, to push her beliefs, her church's teachings, onto me, to try everything (including shouting 'you'll go to hell!' at me in the corridor on many an occasion) because she honestly believed she was 'saving' me. She believed I was a lost soul who so desperately needed to enter the Church.

 

In her eyes, what she was doing was good, and what I was doing was evil.

In my eyes, what she was doing was selfish, presumptive and just plain wrong, what I was 'good'; being true to myself and my beliefs.

 

I would never call her evil, I think 'misguided and naive' is a better description but it gives the example of how good and evil are all based around personal perception, and which side of the fence you sit on.

 

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Graendal's favourite - I still don't think we are seeing eye to eye. I think good and evil are one in the same thing. (Confusing and seems completely stupid, but yes I think it's true.) Ambition is a good thing until you take it too far then people consider it evil. Galad has this noble ability to always do what he thinks is right, but he takes it too far and it becomes quite a hideous trait. I think Galad has it in him to tone that down a bit though.

Ok, well this shows how far off we are after all. Allow me to say that you believe good to be what a person believes it is, and thus good and evil lack any significant difference, since the person is not perfect. Well, I admit that people must live with their imperfection (which is what I was agreeing with you on), but rather good and evil have nothing to do with what anyone thinks they are. Good is good whether anyone understands it or not. So in my opinion, Galad is a well-meaning person, but his rigidity of thought does not allow him to understand the greater good, thus part time he will go wrong. In his dogmatism he is unintentionally capable of evil, and he will not notice this when he believes there is always a clear cut right and wrong. I could say that he mistakes good and evil for right and wrong.

Or another example from the real word...Technology! Technology usually makes life easier; it's supposed to help create more free time by cutting back on the time it takes to do other tasks; and medical technology advancements have helped save countless lives. It allows us to sit in different areas of the world and have this conversation; however, it can also have a lot of negative side affects. Technology has increased the affectiveness of of killing people inpersonally; it allows others to spy on you or steal your "identity"; computerized games and more advanced movies have taken away a lot of out door play time and creative thinking from a lot of child hood activities (and some would argue that it is helping cause a rise in cases of ADHD in children but I know little of that to defend or argue it).

Well, things are not always so easy to judge. But technology is not good or evil, it can be used for both. I would say its existence is certainly for the good, since the human society can become so much better with it. Countless people can cooperate with each other, as we here, to the good of all. I would say a lot of the problems from technology arise from the fact that there are more of people living near each other, and they have less strife, but new challenges face humanity. After all, in the 'golden days' before the computer games, actually the children did not have so much play time, but were working, however no one thought to complain about injuries or such resulting from that. Technology has brought the number of people living decent lives up, and these people can contribute to the world in a less violent way that they did in the past, the people whose lives were difficult. I kind of believe violence breeds violence, and a society grows more good when it grows from violent towards peaceful.

 

As a side-note, in my opinion personal experience as a whole doesn't really come into good/evil. Things are not good or evil in itself. It is not evil to be sad any more than it is evil that it rains or that someone dies. It is evil to intentionally make someone sad, spoil someone's day, or kill someone. The first two not very evil, but it is the action that is good or evil, what results is simply reality. Being sad, rain and death are integral parts of life.

Unfortunately I do not think there is a difference of a preceived good and a good in general. What is pure blantent obvious truth to one person is complete and udder nonsense to another. You're example of a person who does not understand what good is will do evil does not hold up. If you truly believe this, then what you are really saying is that the inherit nature of human kind is evil. I will say that human nature is both good and evil, and it's what we choose to act on that makes us good and evil.

Well I do think, whether or not a thing is good or evil, to be completely irrespective of what anyone thinks: it is good if people see accurately, but their opinion does not change whether or not a thing is good or evil. Yes, we all have different areas and degrees of knowledge and understanding, what we say and understand others say is of course dependent on that: the same sentence can mean many things, though I can still point out that there is still some exact thing that was meant. You took a good example, because I must confess I have no clue what you mean by the sentence: "what good is will do evil does not hold up."

 

What is seeing accurately? In my eyes church is evil. There is few good that has come from "the church" and a lot of evil. In some one else's PoV the church is like the greatest man made thing ever and they usually have their own personal reasons. The Aes Sedai think that they walk in the light and use the One Power to do good (well from the BWB we see that was most likely the case and now they just like to control things) and the Whitecloaks feel that they walk in the light and that the One Power should not be used by humans and it's something only the creator should have access to. Are the Aes Sedai all evil...no some are more good than others and some do what a lot would consider evil things to get to good results. Are the Whitecloaks all evil...I most seriously doubt it.

Seeing accurately is seeing what is real. If a church is evil, then seeing accurately means that you perceive the organisation as evil, despite its liturgy. I certainly see scientologists as evil. They do evil to people, harm people's lives for their own greed. As for something like say the catholic church, I think it has done both good and evil. I believe it is predominantly good-meaning, though some of their policies are misguided. Nevertheless, like the Aes Sedai, they have also had a positive, stabilising effect on societies, and they have also preserved knowledge to some extent. Aes Sedai more than the catholic church in my opinion. (For the record this is very light, I have not spent very long here pondering on what the catholic church does or has done, I do not find it very interesting, it is just an easy example.) If a church manages to get people to actually think about what is right or wrong or good or evil, it must be good though.

 

you didn't quote that full sentence there. I was actually paraphrasing you in that sentence. Just because some one does not know what good is does not mean that the person will not decide to do good rather than evil. I guess you could say that a person like that would go either way.

I quoted what you said I don't understand? Oh, well if a person does not know what is good, then what chance have they to do it? Their actions are completely random from that point of view. All that holds them from evil, that is blindly furthering their self interest, is laws and customs, peer pressure, that is self-interest. Such a person cannot be good. The law can keep them from being evil for the most part, supported by a church or some other source of morals, and the latter can try to force them toward goodness, but they will be incapable of doing good from the desire of doing good. I find such an approach to life terrible.

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I would never call her evil, I think 'misguided and naive' is a better description but it gives the example of how good and evil are all based around personal perception, and which side of the fence you sit on.

Things are not clear cut, but I would say she certainly did evil by harassing you. She caused you much discomfort. She did not see that enforcing her view on you was not good, all she could have done was enforce her own misguidedness on you. After all, she thought it was good because that was what she had been told and she did what she had been told to do. I would not call that a desire to find out what is good and seek to promote it, keeping in mind personal responsibility for one's own actions, which is something I think a good person has. What you think is good and evil may be based on personal perception, but not what is. She did not do good.

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trakand, GF -

 

You both make my point for me.  There is no such thing as an intrinsically good act.

 

By breathing, you necessarily reduce the supply of oxygen in the world.  Somewhere, someone is struggling, right now, to get enough oxygen to survive for one more second.  Is it partially your inhalation that makes his/her task impossible?  No way to know.  So, we each keep on breathing for as long as we can, trusting that doing so works out for the best.  Why?  Because we cannot truly see the outcome of our acts.  Even though, as Jordan put it, "the beating of a butterflies wings may cause a tornado half a world away."

 

Take the Tinkers.  Pacifists.  Violence, even in defense of self or family, is wrong according to their belief system.  Yet, inevitably they must do violence in order to live.  They require food.  Violence to plants or animals or both.  They require clothing.  Ditto.  They require wagons, tools, etc.  More violence to something at every step.  Thus, they must do some "wrong" in order to maintain the "rightness" of their existence.

 

To me, that seems, first of all hypocritical, and secondly, self-destructive.  Their whole "philosophy" seems to be:  If confronted, run.  If pursued, hide.  If cornered, die.  I don't see anything particularly "good" in that.  But, I'm human and very fallible.  I could be wrong.

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BTD, that's Coplin talk.

 

There is a such thing as an intrinsically good act.  There is no such thing as an intrinsically unselfish act.

 

As for the Tinkers, they believe that to do violence harms the person doing it as much as whom it is directed towards.

 

The tinkers don't eat meat, and calling chopping vegetable a violent act is a bit of a stretch unless, like the Nym, you can talk to vegetables and get their point of view.

 

They use an analogy that I like.  The ax cuts the wood but the wood dulls the ax.

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Good and Evil are a matter of opinion based on your upbringing.

 

In some cultures killing is considered noble.

 

In some, lying is considered a prosperous art form.

 

I know of one where cheating is just the smart thing to do and makes your parents proud of you.

 

I'm pretty sure that the Jews were reprimanded by God for not committing genocide at one point. Couple of battles after Jericho I think.

 

There is no good, and no evil. There is just us.

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Well, here's my opinion on that.

 

So the social norm is what decides matters? The norm is correct 'because it is'?  Or for some other reason? And I should agree with this norm for exactly what reason?

 

And are all opinions as correct? Say if I declare 4+9=20, there is no longer mathematics, since the 'conventional' truth and my truth are different but as valid. Or perhaps mathematics can be saved by running a tv show where people can send messages and vote for the truth, so mathematics is indeed as it was if the people chance to agree with how it was before. Of course, if they vote differently, mathematicians will have to humbly agree that they were wrong all these years...

 

I could ask myself whether it is good that I exist: I would say yes, though I will notice that it kind of also depends on what I do. I mean it is good that a stone exists, it is more to the world even if doesn't contribute all that much alone.

 

I fear 'there is no good or evil, there is just us', it is like the 'if a tree falls in a forest where no one hears, there is no sound,' it rings awfully near 'there is no world, there is only me and what I experience.' That may be what the stone thinks(, should it think, it probably doesn't), but a human has the hope of being more, more than just alone in emptiness.

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GF -

 

You keep speaking of some kind of objective, unassailable, and measurable "good".  Measurable by whom?  Using what instrument or metric?

 

As knutz points out, there is no universally accepted definition of "good".  So, your "good" is likely to be somebody else's stupid or even evil.  And, vice versa.

 

Examples abound of something that is required by one religious group being considered anathema by another religious group.  "Honor" killings are one that immediately springs to mind.  There are a multitude of others.  There are sects that fervently believe that dancing is evil.

 

Ultimately, it all comes down to how the individual sees "good" and "evil".  And, how the individual acts based on his or her own flawed understanding.  That makes "good" something that each of us defines for himself.

 

Universal, unequivocal "good" requires the imposition of a single doctrine.  A single dogma.  That is the position of radical Islam.  Thus, universal "good" becomes universally evil.

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If it helps I think I could whip up a handy chart to summarise good and evil.

 

EVIL: Anything that results in manual labour/intensive thought/having to put on pants

 

GOOD: Everything Else

 

Shaving.  You left shaving out of the evil column.

 

I missed this one earlier.  As a man who must shave his head every other day, I couldn't agree more.

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You keep speaking of some kind of objective, unassailable, and measurable "good".  Measurable by whom?  Using what instrument or metric?

Remove the words measurable, there is no guarantee things can be measured, especially before the fact ie not in hindsight. Measurable by whom and how on the other hand is a question many would like to have a definitive answer to (pretty much anyone who is ever uncertain about what they should do). You can only try to measure as you can, and hope.

 

As knutz points out, there is no universally accepted definition of "good".  So, your "good" is likely to be somebody else's stupid or even evil.  And, vice versa.

However, whether or not things are accepted by the whole humanity or a lone chicken in New Guinea, good is still good. It is for people to find out and understand what that good is, not the other way around, that their definition or someone else's should define what is good.

 

You could perhaps say that right and wrong are rather things that require defining. It is right to act according to accepted codes of conduct. It is good to do good.

Examples abound of something that is required by one religious group being considered anathema by another religious group.  "Honor" killings are one that immediately springs to mind.  There are a multitude of others.  There are sects that fervently believe that dancing is evil.

Yet there is nothing to say any of these groups understood good very well. A religious group does not have any particular advantages to others groups in finding their way to good, other than perhaps that if they do not deny the existence of good, they at least have a chance. There is no way you see something you don't believe in and actively deny.

Ultimately, it all comes down to how the individual sees "good" and "evil".  And, how the individual acts based on his or her own flawed understanding.  That makes "good" something that each of us defines for himself.

Your actions come down to how you see good and evil. If you deny the existence of an objective good, you are unable to seek to promote it.

Universal, unequivocal "good" requires the imposition of a single doctrine.  A single dogma.  That is the position of radical Islam.  Thus, universal "good" becomes universally evil.

What you speak of is someone believing that they have the complete, unassailable truth, and telling the world so. They would also believe that good included forcing others to agree with them. The objective truth, the objective good, is different, yet it is what it is despite people being wrong or right about it.

 

I can only say that a good vase is not one that is called good, or sold much, it is one that holds water. If you learn that holding water makes a vase good, you can try to learn to make such a vase. The fashion may try to dictate that a good vase should have this and this many holes in it, yet regardless of this, objectively a good vase is one that holds water. One could also say it is attractive to whichever eye beholds it. This is the objective truth, for the purpose of the vase is to hold water and be pleasing to the eye. The making of a good vase adds to the world, the making of a bad vase not so much.

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Ive always seen the Crestor and Do as 2 different sides of the same coin. The DO is the opposite , the negative, of the Creator, and therefore must be evil. His touch on the world seems to stir up those negative emotions; hate, jealousy, lust, wrath, etc, etc. After all, Lanfear was a friendly, attractive woman, well respected by her peers, before she went over to the dark side. She then became a monster.

 

My belief is that the DO has won multiple times, each time he wins, He breaks the wheel and creates it in his own image. He therefore, becomes the Creator. The old creator is relegated to being the opposite of the new one and becomes the new DO.

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Aussie - this is probably as "good" an explanation as we get.  "Right" and "good" are defined by the winners - they write the histories.  The quest for absolute definitions of good and evil, right and wrong, have kept philosophers way smarter than me going for centuries.  I can only control my personal definitions of these concepts, and hope that I consider more than my personal needs.  Probably not, though.

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