1 Analysis‎ > ‎Society‎ > ‎

Good and Evil


I am a man who believes in the minimising suffering and I am saddened by the suffering of others, I think I try to be good, yet I eat meat and I buy cheap products that were made with cheap labour. The writing below is an attempt to understand the forces of good and evil as they are in us as human beings.

Good and Evil

In us are two levels of morality our;
  • base instinct and
  • our reason.
In our society are two levels of morality;
  • our social custom and
  • our written law.
The above I will call the four factors.

These factors do not always agree on what is moral and what is not, for example;
  • We do not want to kill a harmless creature for meat but our reason tells us to ignore our instinct, society tells us it is acceptable and the law agrees. So we try to forget the horror and sit down to a meat meal. We would never visit a sloughter house or perhaps we do and say that because we can bear the horrer that it is therefore OK.
  • We do want to kill someone that has sufficiently tormented us yet our reason tells us it is wrong to kill another human being, society tells us it is unacceptable and the law agrees. So we restrain ourselves.
  • Homosexuality is an instinctive desire in some, some reason against and some for it, society still is predominantly against and the law sais its OK. Reactions vary.
  • We feel bad when we buy things made by others on subsistance wages yet we try to forget it or try not to find out about it.
Clearly the four factors vary from culture to culture on various issues but what is most interesting is that in our culture for sure these contradictions exist between the factors.

From this we can begin to understand the moral circumstances of the slave trade or the holocaust where perhaps:
  • Many in their base instinct did not feel right having slaves but then they reasoned that slaves were somehow different or did not feel things in the same way or that it was necessary for life (their own of course) in some way. Of course it was at the time also socially acceptable and legally acceptable. So they tried to ignore or hear the suffering.
  • Many Nazis must have felt terrible working in the extermination camps but reasoned that this racial clensing was necessary for a better future. It was socially acceptable to many and legal at that time.
Of course some will have had basic morel instincts that did not find revulsion in these acts just as some working in slaughter houses might have no reaction to it. Some might even take pleasure in acts that defy morality or take pleasure in the hormone of horror that rushes through their body, like adrenalin, when they commit such acts. It seems strange that nature has allowed evil to survive in this way.

Our Condition

The majority of us agree that "good" is what we want. We may try to avoid addressing issues that are evil in respect of one of the four factors above by avoiding knowing or finding out any more about them. As has been said some do not do this, but

Some I think seek out the hormonal rush of doing or acting in a way that directly confronts or presents evil. Lady Gaga in her "meat dress"! She later claimed it was a protest against the way the army in America treats gay soldiers. Lady Gaga defends VMA 'meat dress' An implausible excuse. Is it not clear that the impact of such a dress is in that the material it is made of was material flesh of another living being, that died against its own wishes to provide some other being with a little amusement. Yes most of us wear leather shoes, but the pleasure in them is not the sick pleasure in the death of another.

The Stages

I think there are three stages towards good or evil.

Seeing it:
-to know
-to seek to know
-to avoid knowing
-to not know

Feeling it:
-To feel pain
-To feel pleasure

Acting on it:
-to have made good
-to make better
-to do nothing
-to make worse

Justifications for Good

Society See Society See The Selfish Gene. both of which show why a society of good individuals is a fitter society, in the sense of "survival of the fittest", than a society of bad individuals. Good societies will in the end, always win.

Justifications for Evil 

They all have one overriding quality, they are socially destabalising and introduce a state of conflict or repressed conflict over a state of peace.

Psychology or Theater Tropes

It is a strange thing but perhaps the writers and film makers have a very interesting perspective on psychology. See Above Good And Evil This site has a lot to say about personality types.

Social Darwinism

The Social Darwinist Charles Darwin himself would be appalled by all of these guys and the way they interpreted his works, he proposed nothing of the sort. Unfortunately, Herbert Spencer's summary of Darwin as "Survival of the fittest" became Flanderized and simplified in the popular mind; the resultant Memetic Mutation became what most people call "social Darwinism." Like Darwin, Spencer would be appalled at the misinterpretation. The actual phrase "Survival Of The Fittest" wasn't used in Darwin's books until the 5th edition in 1869 in a completely different context. See The Selfish Gene

The Nihilist

Because its all pointless so whats the point in being good. Nietzsche Wannabe

"The man who is to be great is the one who can be the most solitary, the most hidden, the most deviant, the man beyond good and evil, lord of his virtues, a man lavishly endowed with will— this is precisely what greatness is to be called: it is able to be as much a totality as something multi-faceted, as wide as it is full."

Of course another argument is "Because its all pointless so whats the point in being BAD" obviously overlooked by Nietzsche.

It seems quite reminiscent of the smoker's argument "Well you have got to go sometime", my reply to this is "Well how about now, Goodbye!"

Lesser of two evils principle

(From Wikipedia) Originally, "lesser evil" was a Cold War-era pragmatic foreign policy principle used by the United States and, to a lesser extent, several other countries. The principle dealt with the United States's attitude regarding how third-world dictators should be handled, and was closely related to the Kirkpatrick Doctrine of Jeane Kirkpatrick.

(From Wikipedia) The Government of the United States had long stated that democracy was one of the cornerstones of U.S. society, and therefore also that support for democracy should be reflected in U.S foreign policy. But following the Second World War, dictatorships of various types continued to hold power over many of the world's most strategically and economically important regions. Many of these dictatorships were pro-capitalist, consistent with at least some US ideological goals; thus the United States would form alliances with certain dictators, believing them to be the closest thing their respective nations had to a legitimate government—and in any case much better than the alternative of a communist revolution in those nations. This struggle posed a question: if the end result was, in any realistic case, destined to be a dictatorship, should the US not try to align itself with the dictator who will best serve American interests and oppose the Soviets? This is what became known as the "lesser of two evils" principle.

Outside Good and Evil

"Men like me who possess hidden wisdom, are freed from common rules just as we are cut off from common pleasures. Ours, my boy, is a high and lonely destiny." Uncle Andrew in "The Magician's Nephew" by C S Lewis.
  • In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40000 Horus Heresy novel False Gods, Magnus the Red is determined to study the warp and gain power, because Notions of good and evil fell by the wayside next to such power as dwelled in the warp, for they were the antiquated concepts of a religious society, long cast aside.
  • In CS Lewis's The Magician's Nephew, when Diggory scorns Uncle Andrew for breaking a deathbed promise, Uncle Andrew scorns such things as fitting for boys but not him. Jadis talks in the same language about using the Deplorable Word: "Men like me who possess hidden wisdom, are freed from common rules just as we are cut off from common pleasures. Ours, my boy, is a high and lonely destiny"
  • Professor Quirrel in Harry Potter And The Philosophers Stone Lord Voldemort showed me the truth. There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it.
  • In James Swallow's Warhammer 40000 Blood Angels novel Deus Sanguinius, the triumph of the Chaos forces in Arkio is shown when he declares "There is no right and wrong, no black and white. Only the strong. . . and the weak."

All these individuals reduce the fitness of society for their own gains.

(C)2010 Tom de Havas. The writing under this section is my own work it may be reproduced without modification but must include this notice.

Subpages (1): Bohemian Grove