Originally Posted by BRussell
I don't know how to define it. i think BR is right and it's probably just too vague a term to be worth trying to define exactly.
True.. I think you're both pretty close, I agree. But the idea of evil may not even be necessary. It could be a hangover from some less-enlightened time maybe.
I think you had an interesting point above about evolution and instinct. What personifies evil to most of us is a serial killer who hunts and preys on innocent people for his own pleasure. But my fluffy well-fed house cat loves nothing more than hunting, torturing, and killing innocent birds and mice. She doesn't eat them, she just does it because she feels like doing it. Is that evil?
I guess the religious answer would be 'no' because the cat does not have free-will.
But that raises another can of worms actually because not all religions believe in free-will and I don't believe in it so from some perspectives we are not morally different to the cat.
I remember when Reservoir Dogs first came out- bear with me! hahah - and people were walking out of cinemas in the UK over the ear-cutting scene (odd....don't think they would now....but I digress). I heard an interview with Tarantino justifying it and he said that he had to put it in because 'that's what that character would do if left alone with the cop'.
I agree with this and have observed it....not to the same extreme obviously, but I think we do not have free-will as such....it's just that we are all so different and unique that it seems we do. But in reality we are all carrying out our conditioning.
You'll probably disagree and I may be wrong but it's just one attempt at explanation.
One thing I do believe is that as a species we have been getting better over time. Civilization - stable governments, laws, social welfare programs like education and health care - reduces evil, whatever it is. ** *
I agree...we are getting better.
I think though that religion has been a part of this - or, let's say, the teaching of Jesus has. What is 'turn the other cheek' and 'love your neighbour' if not this? They were unknown concepts before...it was all 'eye for an eye'.
Also I believe that religious duties were originally intended as a means of breaking conditioning and gaining free-will (ie 'heaven') through disciplines like fasting and praying but they got misunderstood...that's another story though maybe.