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Good and Evil

Posted Feb 10, '14 at 8:54pm

blk2860

blk2860

10,796 posts

How exactly would you define something as Good or Evil? I notice that most people just assume "Well, the side we're on is the good side." Is that really true? Here's an example: The Republic and The Separatists, in Star Wars Episodes I, II, and III. I use this example specifically because there really is no defined Good or Evil in a war. I mean, most people just assume the Republic is Good, because they're the ones you're introduced to. How would you consider them to be Good? What would their goals be? I mean, the Empire use interrogation later in the series (Or before, depending on how you consider it.), though they aren't really affiliated with the Separatists at all.

Perhaps I've used the Star Wars metaphor too much. So, for example, who's good or bad in this situation? A man steals bread to feed his family, while another man arrests the first man to provide food for his own family. Is there any black and white anywhere? Even in a fictional world, can we really consider Good and Evil to be real? Is the entire world, is there any area that's not just a large grey area? Here's another example. A man builds a dam, to protect his city from flooding, when another man destroys the dam, because it's killing the crops in his city. Is there any true good or evil? That is the question I present to you.

 

Posted Feb 10, '14 at 10:02pm

FishPreferred

FishPreferred

2,155 posts

It may be easier to look at the requirements for a Good/Evil scenario to exist and work from there.

Someone being "evil" suggests that most or all of their motives are malicious, and someone being "good" suggests that most or all of their motives are benevolent, but anything anyone does must be ultimately selfish. Everything else is just a modifier of the ultimate motive, so what room is there for "good" or "evil"?

 

Posted Feb 11, '14 at 5:30am

thebluerabbit

thebluerabbit

5,403 posts

i dont think theres completel good or evil. id say being evil means you do bad things just for the sake of doing them. you dont care about any other person and you dont necesairly gain anything from the bad things you do. i dont think such a case really exists. im sure even the worst people you can imagine during history had SOME good traits. im sure they loved a few people or had a weakness to animals, ANYTHING. so i dont think someone can be 100% evil.

as for just bad, in my opinion a bad action is an action that hurts another person with intention to hurt them or simply without care.

but i guess this definition usually means that most actions arent 100% bad or good either.

 

Posted Feb 11, '14 at 5:57am

pangtongshu

pangtongshu

10,108 posts

Is that really true? Here's an example: The Republic and The Separatists, in Star Wars Episodes I, II, and III. I use this example specifically because there really is no defined Good or Evil in a war. I mean, most people just assume the Republic is Good, because they're the ones you're introduced to. How would you consider them to be Good? What would their goals be? I mean, the Empire use interrogation later in the series (Or before, depending on how you consider it.), though they aren't really affiliated with the Separatists at all.


A better example would have been Jedi vs. Sith.
Jedi are equivalent to a strict religious group that have created a theocratic government, while the Sith are a more laissez-faire group.
(of course, it should be noted the actions taken by the Sith during the true trilogy do not reflect their ways)

I think this is also another fun little topic on the idea of moral relativism
 

Posted Feb 11, '14 at 12:11pm

Kasic

Kasic

5,746 posts

Someone being "evil" suggests that most or all of their motives are malicious, and someone being "good" suggests that most or all of their motives are benevolent,


Most everyone does what they think is benevolent or good. Trying to establish morality based on intentions falls flat on its face, hard. Or is denying children medical care and having them die because you thought praying for them would cure them a good thing now?

Good and evil are words we use to falsely categorize actions. They're relative to each person's beliefs and values. That said, I do think there are things that are either right or wrong, and that through rational and logical thought we can see what those are, if we start from the premise that all things deserve to be happy and to flourish, on the reasoning that this is the desire of life.
 

Posted Feb 11, '14 at 1:25pm

MattEmAngel

MattEmAngel

7,610 posts

How exactly would you define something as Good or Evil?


Why did you ask this? Why?

(That was sarcasm. Imagine me saying it with clenched fists and tears rolling down my face).

Having said that, I will, with fear in my heart, provide my input.

There are several ways to go about viewing Good and Evil.
1. Good and evil are determined by a supernatural power (i.e., the Bible, the Koran, or any other documentation given by a supreme being.
2. Good and evil are determined by man in the form of laws. Man unanimously (or at least in a majority) decides what is right and what is wrong. This would be Federal and State laws in (America's) democracy, anything decreed by a king in a monarchy, a law created and enforced (usually with violence) by a single man in a dictatorship, etc.
3. Good and evil are determined individually by man. Whatever that man (in reference to mankind; women are included) decides is right and wrong is how he lives his life. Laws created by a supreme being or another man are irrelevant. The only "line in the sand" is the one carved by you.
4. Good and evil do not exist. This is a more nihilistic view (the belief that nothing is real and life is meaningless). I'm not an expert on nihilism, so the following are assumptions. If I'm way off, feel free to correct me. The lack of good and evil involves a life that has no rules whatsoever. Actions have no consequence, emotions are empty and there is no afterlife or supreme being to answer to. I met a nihilist once who claimed that the purpose of life was to just do the best you can. Don't make any waves, I suppose. Out of the list, it's probably the most peaceful (and depressing).

Those are the only ones that come to mind. I personally believe the first on the list as a Christian, but that isn't really relevant. Please don't ask me "So why does God kill children?" That's a "Theism VS Atheism" subject. Believing the first of the four is just a statistic.

As for your Star Wars metaphor, I suppose that falls under both #1 and #2? The "Force" is, after all, a supernatural...thing, and there are clearly two sides to it, on which the Jedi and Sith base their actions and create rules, such as the age at which a person can be trained as a Jedi. That involves both supernatural and natural elements.
 

Posted Feb 11, '14 at 1:29pm

HahiHa

HahiHa

5,819 posts

Moderator

Most everyone does what they think is benevolent or good.

Seems intuitive, but I don't think it is so evident. There are lots of cases where one can argue that an action was taken despite it being regarded as evil, or not good. Example: buying cheap clothes you know come from child labour, or bad working conditions. Other example: politicians. Although I should add that likely a high number of politicians have convinced themselves of the righteousness of their action, as a sort of defense mechanism or of a consequence of living in a bubble surrounded by people telling you you're doing right.

Anyway, personally I reject an objective notion of 'good' or 'evil'. "Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder", and so do good and evil.
 

Posted Feb 11, '14 at 1:52pm

FishPreferred

FishPreferred

2,155 posts

4. Good and evil do not exist. This is a more nihilistic view (the belief that nothing is real and life is meaningless). I'm not an expert on nihilism, so the following are assumptions. If I'm way off, feel free to correct me. The lack of good and evil involves a life that has no rules whatsoever. Actions have no consequence, emotions are empty and there is no afterlife or supreme being to answer to. I met a nihilist once who claimed that the purpose of life was to just do the best you can. Don't make any waves, I suppose. Out of the list, it's probably the most peaceful (and depressing).


This is the nihilistic view, but it is not specific to conclusion 4. These concepts are not integral to reality, so nihilism is not required. A neutral position does not defy reason or break causality, it simply doesn't have any moral bias.

As for your Star Wars metaphor, I suppose that falls under both #1 and #2? The "Force" is, after all, a supernatural...thing, and there are clearly two sides to it, on which the Jedi and Sith base their actions and create rules, such as the age at which a person can be trained as a Jedi. That involves both supernatural and natural elements.


Technically, that would be a "natural" phenomenon, as it is supposed to be generated by a common endosymbiont.
 

Posted Feb 11, '14 at 2:25pm

MattEmAngel

MattEmAngel

7,610 posts

Technically, that would be a "natural" phenomenon, as it is supposed to be generated by a common endosymbiont.


Actually, the Force concept came from Lucas watching "21-87," an abstract film. Lucas took inspiration from a man named Kroitor, who said "Many people feel that in the contemplation of nature and in communication with other living things, they become aware of some kind of force, or something, behind this apparent mask which we see in front of us, and they call it God." When asked if this was the source of "the Force," Lucas confirms that his use of the term in Star Wars was "an echo of that phrase in 21-87." The idea behind it, however, was universal: "Similar phrases have been used extensively by many different people for the last 13,000 years to describe the 'life force,'" he says.

(This is all from the same source page you posted)

So it's a "life force" that cannot be naturally explained. That would make it supernatural until proven otherwise (and it has not yet been proven otherwise). The natural element comes from man being able to communicate with the Force through midi-chlorians.

On an unrelated note, I think the concept of "midi-chlorians" introduced in Episode I (and never mentioned again) is stupid. Am I the only one? I mean, they explain the connection, but the concept came out of nowhere as a magic bridge between the Force and reality, and everyone who watched the first trilogy was just as confused as everyone who hadn't.
 

Posted Feb 11, '14 at 2:36pm

FishPreferred

FishPreferred

2,155 posts

That would make it supernatural until proven otherwise (and it has not yet been proven otherwise).


Where did you get that idea from? It's just God of the gaps set to legal rhetoric.

On an unrelated note, I think the concept of "midi-chlorians" introduced in Episode I (and never mentioned again) is stupid. Am I the only one?


No. I think it's a poor attempt at "sciencing-up" the fiction.
 
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