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> Are We By Nature Good Or Evil?
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maryellen 
Posted: 20-Oct-2003, 04:49 PM
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The title explains most of it: are humans by nature good or evil. if we don't have laws that make us conduct ourselves nicely, then what would happen. Or if religion never existed or found out to be a big sham, what would happen?

"Lord of the Flies" by William Golding suggests we are evil by nature. Its a great book if you haven't read it.



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McHaggis 
Posted: 20-Oct-2003, 05:10 PM
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Without laws? Why, that would be literal anarchy, eh? I would suggest that since eating of that (I believe allegorical) tree of the knowledge of good and evil that we "know" the difference between the two....of course, we recognize that there are extremes of what we know as evil, ie, the sociopath, or on the other hand, the "saint,"....and that we recognize that we all posses, to one degree or another, both capacities. Hence the Christian concept of Original Sin to explain why we, created in the image of God, are yet flawed.

Better to ask if the shark is good or evil....as it possesses just a little peanut-sized brain in that 300+ lb. body, 80% or more of which is dedicated to the sense of smell, if I recall correctly....no higher congitive functions at all, no prefrontal cortex to decide whether taking prey is good or bad....it just eats. Is it evil?

So the question is moot. All good.....or all evil? Some of both, probably...l.Nature seems to like the balance. And, of course, it's decided by consensus in the social contract what is an allowable percentage of either extreme....hence laws as guidelines.

Also recognize the concept of situational ethics.....some things are allowed under certain circumstances that would be abhorrent under others.....examples abound.

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stevenpd 
Posted: 20-Oct-2003, 06:38 PM
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QUOTE (maryellen @ Oct 20 2003, 02:49 PM)
"Lord of the Flies" by William Golding suggests we are evil by nature.

My take on the book is that the human species is neither. The story line in "Lord of the Flies" shows that no structure after structure is wholly dependant upon the participants. Structure can be defined in this intance as rules or laws governing social behavior. As the students learn that they do not answer to anyone but themselves the social fabric is torn between structure/no structure. This is identified by the two groups. Although it is a good book, the hypothesis that humans are evil by nature can not be born out due to the fact that the testing pool (students) has been tainted with limited exposure to structure (school), even though the students are relatively young they have had exposure to structure.

To truely look at the hypothis, one would have to look to an untainted group or a group that has not been exposed to any structure. The only time that could be possible would be the at the emergence of the human as a social species.


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maryellen 
Posted: 20-Oct-2003, 06:51 PM
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In response to the shark, or any other animal, I cannot claim that it is good or evil since it does not have free will. Thats up for debate too I guess. But I've always been taught that only humans have free will- hence the fruit of the tree of knowledge.
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stevenpd 
Posted: 20-Oct-2003, 07:25 PM
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Further, let us hypothesize that we have a group of one hundred humans together in one location at a point in history that is in the transition from migratory hunter-gathers to a stationary agrarian group. The make-up of such a group is wide ranging in age, personality traits, skills, and survival needs. One primary reason for such a group to assemble would be the numbers and the common need for survival. It would not be out of the realm reality to conclude safety in numbers.

This society would naturally develop conflicts. On the other hand if everyone is of the same mind then there can be no conflict. Conflict resolution would be the genisis of structure or rules/laws. The question to ask at this point is what is the nature of conflict resolution? Can it be purely democratic with one man, one vote with a simple majority ruling? Or can it be a representive republic where sub-groups elect a representaive to further the groups interests? Maybe it could be a socialist structure where a small group controls the labor of the rest? Or maybe it could be a communist structure where a small group controls the rest?

When life's decisions are simple, i.e. live or die, conflict resolution is also simple. This is where the exmanination needs to focus its attention. As new situations are presented the resolution can use previous solutions as part of the answer for the new resolution. At this beginning does the human species know anything of good and evil, right and wrong? Is there a sense of these things? If there is, what is it based on?
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Annabelle 
Posted: 20-Oct-2003, 08:02 PM
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To what degree are we discussing good versus evil? Are we discussing it according to pre-existing laws or a world where there is nothing outside of existing?
Where do we set these limits?
If we were discussing today's civilized social world I believe we would still have to go back to being children. As we grow up in today's society at some age we begin to reason good against bad...at that point we decide. Sometimes the goals we want taint our objectiveness and we take the wrong road.
But gosh for a discussion like this we need perimeters...well, I've used all of my brain cells for the week. At least now the pressures off of me!
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McHaggis 
Posted: 20-Oct-2003, 10:39 PM
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"Perimeters?"

Or parameters?

Paradigms or paradiddles ( a percussion rudiment: LRLL-RLRR)
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McHaggis 
Posted: 20-Oct-2003, 10:44 PM
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Re: sharks......oops, I forgot about free will vs. determinism. Thanks for pointing that out, maryellen.....my faux pas.

Sharks (ie, Whitey, The Man In The Gray Suit, The Landlord) has been on our minds here on the Central Coast lately as one of our own was eaten by a great white about a month and a half ago. Though I can't recall her name, I know I once sold her a surfboard out of Pismo Beach Surf Shop and she was an instructor at the local junior college.

But was her death good or evil? And what role did God and/or The Devil (assuming the existence of both) have in it?

Discuss:

RON
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birddog20002001 
Posted: 21-Oct-2003, 09:54 AM
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I believe that each individual person has the potential for both supreme good and supreme evil, and throughout every life that lives to it's full measure both extremes probably will be displayed in one aspect or another. Those born with out the ability to access this full spectrum (in either end of the range) of reaction are in my opinion faulty. "If angels and devils did not exist we would have to invent them in order to expalain the various personalities of man". I heard that some where I don't quite remember where , but I do believe it


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stevenpd 
Posted: 21-Oct-2003, 03:16 PM
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This age old question has many ramifications attached to it. If we are to discuss philosophy let's place the question into a context to narrow it down. I was discussing the question from its essence which then can be tested against current sociological norms as a contrast to see if those norms are correct. This will allow a basic definition to be refined that would be acceptable to a majority of people.

I do not believe that by our very nature we even understand the question. Almost all of the religions of the world believe in good/evil, ying/yang, enlightenment/darkness, and light/dark concepts. Here is the chicken or the egg question: Is religion created as a response to good/evil or is good/evil created as a response to religion?
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oldraven 
Posted: 21-Oct-2003, 03:51 PM
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I think we're both. We're all good people with the potential for Evil when we are confronted.

Some people eventually suppress the good in themselves to the extent where no one can see it in them anymore. And others, recent news brings Mother Theresa to mind, choose to suppress the evil in themselves. But the majority of us are good at heart, but can each be corrupted.

No, I'm not wishy washy. I don't believe anyone is born evil. It all comes with time and bitterness.


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Shadows 
Posted: 21-Oct-2003, 04:29 PM
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QUOTE (McHaggis @ Oct 20 2003, 06:10 PM)
Without laws? Why, that would be literal anarchy, eh? I would suggest that since eating of that (I believe allegorical) tree of the knowledge of good and evil that we "know" the difference between the two....of course, we recognize that there are extremes of what we know as evil, ie, the sociopath, or on the other hand, the "saint,"....and that we recognize that we all posses, to one degree or another, both capacities. Hence the Christian concept of Original Sin to explain why we, created in the image of God, are yet flawed.

Better to ask if the shark is good or evil....as it possesses just a little peanut-sized brain in that 300+ lb. body, 80% or more of which is dedicated to the sense of smell, if I recall correctly....no higher congitive functions at all, no prefrontal cortex to decide whether taking prey is good or bad....it just eats. Is it evil?

So the question is moot. All good.....or all evil? Some of both, probably...l.Nature seems to like the balance. And, of course, it's decided by consensus in the social contract what is an allowable percentage of either extreme....hence laws as guidelines.

Also recognize the concept of situational ethics.....some things are allowed under certain circumstances that would be abhorrent under others.....examples abound.

RON

I was going to ask what is defined as Good and what is defined as Evil...but...

I like your reply to this!

Evil and Good have social limits, what is Evil in one society might be ... I will not say good, but not evil in another. Again it comes down to what one believes.


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oldraven 
Posted: 21-Oct-2003, 04:44 PM
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I think the simplest way to answer that question would be this. Good is the pursuit of peace and happiness, and Evil is the pursuit of harm or the cause of sadness for others. It's very broad, but the truth, in my opinion.
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MDF3530 
  Posted: 21-Oct-2003, 04:50 PM
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I believe that the vast majority of us are born good. I also believe that some of us people are more easily led down the road of evil than others. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Professor Dumbledore tells Harry, "it is not our abilities that tell us who we are, it is our choices."

This post has been edited by MDF3530 on 21-Oct-2003, 04:56 PM


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oldraven 
  Posted: 21-Oct-2003, 06:11 PM
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Nice.

Way to quote Harry Potter. tongue.gif
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