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Thread: Definition/Nature of 'evil'

  1. #1
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Definition/Nature of 'evil'

    The word gets flung around all the time in all different sorts of contexts, but what exactly is 'evil'. Is there a definition or criteria that a majority of folks could agree on? My initial impression is that the task of defining it may be harder than expected.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Two words… Hillary Clinton
    Trusting a DC politician with your money is like trusting a hungry dog with a raw steak.

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    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Two words: George Bush!
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  4. #4
    George and Dick!

  5. #5
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    Two words… Hillary Clinton
    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    Two Words: George Bush!
    Okay, you were both joking but this is as good a starting point as any. One can read any number of screeds (left and right) and see the label 'evil' applied to these individuals.

    How about this for an initial working definition: Evil is when one commits acts intended to harm/cause suffering to others.
    Trying to pass legislation providing universal health care to all citizens through the federal government could cause much pain and suffering for insurance company shareholders or possibly for patients who have to wade through bureaucracy to get treatment. Similarly, concocting various fictional justifications (linking 9/11 to Iraq etc.) to set two nations on a course of war resulting in the loss of thousands of lives could also be considered intentional acts to cause harm/suffering to others.

    Are these valid examples of 'evil'?
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  6. #6
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister
    Okay, you were both joking but this is as good a starting point as any. One can read any number of screeds (left and right) and see the label 'evil' applied to these individuals.
    Ok, in all seriousness, I would have to define evil as the act, influence, or presents of negative influential forces with the intent on harming or violating persons’ inherent human rights or going against ethical nature of a particular society, or preventing others from doing so.
    Trusting a DC politician with your money is like trusting a hungry dog with a raw steak.

  7. #7
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    I would tack on knowingly committing acts. There are plenty of "evil" things that have happened that were the result of an action with the best of intentions (law of unintended consequences).

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Evil is harming others directly or indirectly by action or inaction. Simple.

  9. #9
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SkeLeton
    Evil is harming others directly or indirectly by action or inaction. Simple.
    Indirectly? Don't you think intent is a necessary element? I suppose if one hasn't volunteered to do famine relief work in the Sahel region one is guilty of evil due to their inaction/unwillingness to help starving people?......
    Skel you must be evil incarnate!
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  10. #10
    maudit anglais
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    Quote Originally posted by SkeLeton
    Evil is harming others directly or indirectly by action or inaction. Simple.

    By your definition, I guess all planners are evil seeing as we create plans/approve development/enforce regulations that do harm to some people out there...

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    I would have added the intent of harm as evil, but sometimes people do bad things without intending to do harm, and that is still evil. Also it's a general definition, and of course if you apply it to a specific case, it may sound ridiculous. We can't ALL go to africa to save those that are dying of hunger, but if we have a chance to colaborate indirectly with aiding them and we pass it along, then we are evil.

    And about planning, nothing will be ever perfect enough to have no negative repercusions, so then comes balance, so if a rule has more positive effects than negative it's not evil, even if some are harmed, it's the greater good.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    In the case of a national leader, I would say it is "evil" when they do not genuinely look out for the greater good of the nation as a whole.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Evil

    Evil is.....

    The teenagers who beat to death the homeless man.
    Saddam and his brothers, when they were in power, killing innocent human beings.
    Adolph Hitler.

    You get the idea.

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Bear Up North
    Evil is.....

    The teenagers who beat to death the homeless man.
    Saddam and his brothers, when they were in power, killing innocent human beings.
    Adolph Hitler.

    You get the idea.

    Bear
    In the case of Saddam and Hitler, it seems to me they ran their nation as an extension of their ego -- ie they had no desire to do anything "for the good of the people", instead they simply saw power as an opportunity to express their personal neurotic crapola on a larger scale....

    which certainly fits my defintion for evil in a national leader.

  15. #15
    Ignorance does not shield you from being evil. Evil people don't think they're evil. Hitler really believed he was doing the world a favor by getting rid of the jews. The Khmer Rouge really believed they would be creating a socialist utopia by exterminating intellectuals and driving everyone else out of the cities.

    Evil comes from intolerance and failure to empathize with others.

  16. #16
    Member Wulf9's avatar
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    Philosopher hat on

    Evil is the absence of good. Which requires first a definition of "good." Good can be defined as loving the concept of good and of applying that concept to the rest of the world in the broadest sense possible

    Evil happens when people do not insist that good be done. It is hard for evil to grow where there is a strong societal focus on good things, a good life, a good society.

    Good is never accomplished by doing evil things. If someone tells you they are doing an evil thing to reach a good end, they are not telling the truth.

    Phlosoper hat off.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    Ok, in all seriousness, I would have to define evil as the act, influence, or presents of negative influential forces with the intent on harming or violating persons’ inherent human rights or going against ethical nature of a particular society, or preventing others from doing so.
    So how does than not define George Bush?

  18. #18
    Quote Originally posted by Wulf9
    Philosopher hat on

    Evil is the absence of good. Which requires first a definition of "good." Good can be defined as loving the concept of good and of applying that concept to the rest of the world in the broadest sense possible

    Evil happens when people do not insist that good be done. It is hard for evil to grow where there is a strong societal focus on good things, a good life, a good society.

    Good is never accomplished by doing evil things. If someone tells you they are doing an evil thing to reach a good end, they are not telling the truth.

    Phlosoper hat off.
    This was an excellent definition. I would also add to your second point that evil happens because it's a choice. Humans were granted the gift (or curse, if you wish to see it as such) of free will. Even with a society focused on the good, evil will happen. It is the eternal wild card.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian
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    true evil is rarely disputed. Hitler, Khamer Rouge, Saddam, Stalin.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Super Amputee Cat
    So how does than not define George Bush?
    What has he done that you would say is evil?
    Gulf war?
    - Freed the Iraqi people from a brutal dictator and is now working to prevent the county from falling into the hands of Al Quida Terrorist Cells that are out to take over some of the richest oil supply in the world with the sole intent on eliminating distribution to the “Western” world which includes any non-Islamic controlled nation.
    - Crippled the Al Quida Terrorist network in many areas, and said their leader into hiding to the point that people question if he is still alive.

    Provide for tax breaks for all to allow them to buy more
    Some of the lowest unemployment rates, mortgage interest rates, and the highest ever gain in the stock market, followed by a significant terrorist attack that would of, under many others, would have crippled this nations economic stability, only to see it get back to pre 9/11 numbers, while regaining consumer confidence in the economy?


    Wow, your right.... how dare he?
    Give me a break.
    Trusting a DC politician with your money is like trusting a hungry dog with a raw steak.

  21. #21
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Wulf9
    Philosopher hat on

    Evil is the absence of good. Which requires first a definition of "good." Good can be defined as loving the concept of good and of applying that concept to the rest of the world in the broadest sense possible

    Evil happens when people do not insist that good be done. It is hard for evil to grow where there is a strong societal focus on good things, a good life, a good society.

    Good is never accomplished by doing evil things. If someone tells you they are doing an evil thing to reach a good end, they are not telling the truth.

    Phlosoper hat off.
    I like this response. Yin and Yang, dude!
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Evil: that which destroys or demeans human life without achieving an objectively superior good.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  23. #23

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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    What has he done that you would say is evil?
    Gulf war?
    - Freed the Iraqi people from a brutal dictator
    while ensuring that a theocracy which in many cases make women less free is being steadily implemented.

    and is now working to prevent the county from falling into the hands of Al Quida Terrorist Cells that are out to take over some of the richest oil supply in the world with the sole intent on eliminating distribution to the “Western” world which includes any non-Islamic controlled nation.
    Instead, Shiite extremists are taking control of this oil soil, extremists tied to our good buddie Iran. But, I forget, you republicans LIKE Iran. You conspired with the mullahs to delay the release of hostages and sold them sophistocated weapons.


    - Crippled the Al Quida Terrorist network in many areas, and said their leader into hiding to the point that people question if he is still alive.
    Actually, many experts not directly tied to PNAC and the Bush Adminsitration consider the Iraqi War a distraction from the police actions against Al Qaeda. The Taliban are back in a big way-we have ignored our promises to help rebuild Afghanistan after that sad country's twenty years as a well-beaten football in the Cold War (remember. We largely CREATED Al Qaeda to fight the Soviets.)

    Provide for tax breaks for all to allow them to buy more
    the wealthy do not typically "buy more" goods. Often, the money goes into The Casino 9investments) of insider trading and enhancing the competivie position of China and other Asian countries. Besides, 25 years of deindustrialization under both parties' watch means that anything they could buy would be largely imported anyway.


    Some of the lowest unemployment rates, mortgage interest rates, and the highest ever gain in the stock market, followed by a significant terrorist attack that would of, under many others, would have crippled this nations economic stability, only to see it get back to pre 9/11 numbers, while regaining consumer confidence in the economy?
    But, most of this happened under the reign of The Clenis, the locus of all evil (back on the topic at hand) according to you silly Theocrats. The Bush economy has been largely about deficits and stangation.


    M'Skis. I can always know where to tune to get the latest talking points regurgitated without reflection. You seem to be so thoughtful otherwise.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian
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    BKM, your points are mostly reasonable ones (except maybe the inference about the backing of the mujahedeen against the Soviets--we certainly did not create them as they have fought invaders for thousands of years and I am not sure we actually had a policy option back in the early 80's)

    I guess my point relative to this thread is that while the debate you are having with Michaelskis is partisan, it is a policy dicussion and is very distinct from calling George Bush "evil" as we have so defined.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    M'Skis. I can always know where to tune to get the latest talking points regurgitated without reflection. You seem to be so thoughtful otherwise.
    With some of your points, I am not sure where you get them from, but oh well, Bush was elected and still is President and we could discuss this until we are blue in the face. If he is evil and has done so many bad things, I am sure that he will be impeached before the end of his term.

    I think that we can all agree that Wal-Mart is evil
    (Hello Sam’s Law)
    Trusting a DC politician with your money is like trusting a hungry dog with a raw steak.

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