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The Definition of Evil

PretzelCorps

Registered Member
This obviously stems from the 'Is Adolf Hitler Evil?' thread, where I think a deeper conversation is actually taking place than the discussion at hand; barring the couple 'Yay Hitler!' posts, it seems to me that a great deal of the disagreement in that thread is based less on the skin of the discussion itself, and more on the question of 'What does it mean to be Evil?" Some of us seem to think evil is defined more purely by our actions (myself included), whereas others think it's all based on intent, and yet others appear to think 'evil' means sitting in a tall tower and laughing manically to the sound of thunder.

So the question is simple: What does it mean to be "evil"?
 

Unition

Registered Member
Ah, that's more like it.

My definition of Evil is definitely based on intent, the reasoning behind the action.
Picture this scenario, if you will:
-A masked man robs a bank at gunpoint, scaring the crap out of everybody in the bank by threatening to shoot them if they "tried anything funny". The man then gets away with his illegally aquired money without harming anybody in the bank.

Is the man evil? Well you were to look at his actions only, then yeah, he seems like a pretty evil guy, threatening to murder innocent people with a firearm just so he can take his illegally aquired money that he stole from the good people and then running off with the loot. It would seem as though he enjoyed seeing terror in the eyes of the civilians as he stole their money and kept it for himself. Since you don't know the details behind his motives, and you base his morality purely on his actions alone, then it would be fair to assume that this was the case.

But what If I told you that this man's father was suffering at the hospital with a terrible heart problem and the only way the help him is to operate on his heart? The family can't afford the operation so he took it upon himself to aquire the necessary funds for the operation by robbing a bank. Is this man still evil. Not by the looks of it.

I believe an evil person is basically someone who takes things (lives, money, food, happiness, etc.) at the expense of others, without giving anything back, not because they need these things but because they want these things for their own selfish gain (money, power, fun, etc.).


yet others appear to think 'evil' means sitting in a tall tower and laughing manically to the sound of thunder.
Well, of course those people are evil. They make it so obvious.
 
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fractal

Eye see what you did ther
If you perform an action that you believe is evil despite having better alternatives, you are evil.

For instance: If you rape children, perform honour killing, support genocide and torture people while believing that you're not evil, you're not evil. That doesn't imply that you should not be held culpable for your actions, or your punishment should be reduced. Even if you believe that you are doing the right thing, you are expected to follow the law which is based on societal acceptance of actions.
 

Unition

Registered Member
If you perform an action that you believe is evil despite having better alternatives, you are evil.

For instance: If you rape children, perform honour killing, support genocide and torture people while believing that you're not evil, you're not evil. That doesn't imply that you should not be held culpable for your actions, or your punishment should be reduced. Even if you believe that you are doing the right thing, you are expected to follow the law which is based on societal acceptance of actions.
So if you believe that you're doing the right thing then you can't be evil, but if you know that what you're doing is evil then you're evil? I guess that makes sense. That also backs up my Hitler arguement.
 

fractal

Eye see what you did ther
It does backup your Hitler argument if you believe that Hitler believed that he was doing good. But reading Mein Kampf, his hatred doesn't make it seem that way. It's more like "good riddance" for him, instead of him genuinely believing that was the best option. I also had your stance initially until I realized that he could have just thrown the Jews out instead of systematically killing them.
 

BrinkOfExistence

Registered Member
If you perform an action that you believe is evil despite having better alternatives, you are evil.

For instance: If you rape children, perform honour killing, support genocide and torture people while believing that you're not evil, you're not evil. That doesn't imply that you should not be held culpable for your actions, or your punishment should be reduced. Even if you believe that you are doing the right thing, you are expected to follow the law which is based on societal acceptance of actions.
So if someone raped your child and said "hey, what did was a good thing i'm not evil" you would say "oh right you thought you was doing the right thing, sorry for a moment there i thought you was being evil, you're right you raping my child isn't an evil thing, it's a good thing only because said you so though".

Just because someone says their actions arn't evil doesn't mean their actions arn't evil, I know evilness is a state of opinion but only to an extent, it eventually gets to a point where everyone says "thats evil" except for people who suffer from amental illness. a child being raped definatly reaches that point.

Before you say i know what your getting at, if someone believes what they are doing is right then they would also believe that they're not evil, but to everyone else who doesn't lack common sense knows that that evil

My definition of evil is someone who commits or influences others to commit murder and suffering to innocent people.
 

Merc

Problematic Shitlord
V.I.P.
To me, something/someone that is evil to you embodies everything you loathe, everything you hate and all the things that make you cringe. It's what keeps you up at night and what drives you during the day. Like yourself, it can change form and shape with age, experience but the feeling is eternal.

Basically, it's an abstract concept that is special to each of us.
 

Unition

Registered Member
To me, something/someone that is evil to you embodies everything you loathe, everything you hate and all the things that make you cringe. It's what keeps you up at night and what drives you during the day. Like yourself, it can change form and shape with age, experience but the feeling is eternal.

Basically, it's an abstract concept that is special to each of us.
Thinking about it, this actually makes a lot of sense to me.
Thanks for adding that.
 

fractal

Eye see what you did ther
So if someone raped your child and said "hey, what did was a good thing i'm not evil" you would say "oh right you thought you was doing the right thing, sorry for a moment there i thought you was being evil, you're right you raping my child isn't an evil thing, it's a good thing only because said you so though".
Good thing for them.
Just because someone says their actions arn't evil doesn't mean their actions arn't evil, I know evilness is a state of opinion but only to an extent, it eventually gets to a point where everyone says "thats evil" except for people who suffer from amental illness. a child being raped definatly reaches that point.
You mean everyone else, instead of everyone. That's simply believing that there's a universal moral standard.
Before you say i know what your getting at, if someone believes what they are doing is right then they would also believe that they're not evil, but to everyone else who doesn't lack common sense knows that that evil
That's the problem with your assumption. It implies the morals of the majority.
My definition of evil is someone who commits or influences others to commit murder and suffering to innocent people.
Chopping a petty thief's hand is not evil?

To me, something/someone that is evil to you embodies everything you loathe, everything you hate and all the things that make you cringe. It's what keeps you up at night and what drives you during the day. Like yourself, it can change form and shape with age, experience but the feeling is eternal.

Basically, it's an abstract concept that is special to each of us.
Genocide doesn't make me feel anything, but that doesn't mean I don't think it's evil.
 

shelgarr

Registered Member
Evil is results! So maybe instead of it being an adjective, maybe it's really a verb?

Intent can always be private and never acted on. Intent can be ongoing and living in the thoughts of someone but never be revealed. It's not even unlawful to have awful thoughts. Remember those terrorists that lived here for 10 years and assimilated themselves so well into our airplane schools? Did anyone ever suspect them of what they did that day on Sep 11, 2001? And they did it in the name of Allah so are they evil? Oh and how about Adrea Yates....the TX mother that drowned all 5 of her kids one by one. Many attributed it to post partum or mental health professional failure and even her husband. Did anyone know that she could be so evil as to kill all her kids.

I believe most all of us have evil moments. You wish someone dead or wish harm on another. Things are said and done that we all regret and could be labeled as "evil". Seriously, I think it's a verb that describes a very awful result.
 
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