It is man’s own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways – Buddha.
A new subject I never gave much thought to before. I’m now however of the opinion that human beings are not evil, but that they are capable of evil doing. Sounds easy so far. Some externalize evil as a force or universal mechanism that influences us because primarily God has forsaken his shadow – and that Christ is God’s shadow. OK. Not so easy then, but that was Carl Jung anyway.
Christianity bases the concept of good and evil classically on that of Thomas Aquinas – or the absence of good. Machiavelli proposed that all acts that are intended for the protection of the state are not necessarily evil – even if they involve the cancellation of your enemies. For the most part, various psychological theories evidence the lack of good as conditioning, or abnormalities in the brain or personality – depending on which of the usual theories you subscribe to.
One of my more favourite ideas on evil was proposed by Spinoza. As a mathematical derivative Spinoza stated: 1. By good, I understand that which we certainly know is useful to us. 2. By evil, on the contrary I understand that which we certainly know hinders us from possessing anything that is good.
As someone who believed evil to be a separate characteristic, evil was hard to find and more of a mythical experience – a quality that one could only attribute through say the lens of religion. For me there was either good or bad; simple enough thinking, but that put to question actions such as murder or rape. Some believe the word rape is by definition evil, that things like slavery are evil while others are relativists. I know, hard to think that way with rape. But remember the experiment in which a subject is given control over the amount of electrical charge an individual receives – whom they cannot see, can’t identify with other than to be told the person is deserving? A lot of supposedly good people were tricked into accepting or giving up control to others and committing an evil act of electrocution and suffering.
But what are we really getting at here? What does evil have to do with my day? Does the 8 year old who took the chocolate bar become evil? Do they have the moral certitude to know the absence of good? At what age does this come about. Can we put a teenager on death row – and is death row evil? I think it is. How much does impulsivity or poor decision making take us down the road of evil doing? Does the interplay of reason and conscience delude us into believing we are good people, or are we all evil?