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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

How do you define evil and do you define it on different levels?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (20224 points ) January 24th, 2013

People say acts or people are evil, but they try to place certain acts or people as being more evil than another. For instance, is Hitler more evil than John Wayne Gacy, and he more evil than Timothy McVeigh, or McVeigh more evil than Luis Reynaldo (Tree Frog) Johnson, or he more evil then Martha Stewart, and her more evil then Bernie Madoff? What of those who worked the Soviet gulags torturing people daily in horrific ways or the nameless, faceless members of the Republican Guard that did the same, are they more or less evil in your eyes? What of the Coyotes who take the life savings of those trying to get into the nation but then leave them locked in a truck to die in the desert?

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16 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

Evil is a handwave to dismiss someone without having to think about anything.

Coloma's avatar

I think it was M. Scott Peck that said in his book ” People of the lie….The hope for healing human evil” that the base definition of evil is anyone who is willfully ignorant and refuses to examine their beliefs and behaviors along with the self centeredness and lack of empathy of narcissism. I think this is true on many levels. The refusal to self examine allows the ego to run roughshod over anything that squelches it’s need for power, greed and control.
Evil people do not WANT TO KNOW and they do not want to change or be challenged on any of their bullshit, period, not ever.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Coloma The refusal to self examine allows the ego to run roughshod over anything that squelches it’s need for power, greed and control. Are you saying that a person who conducts themselves like that in theory but not in action, is as evil as one who maybe cares not for anything other than the suffering of others? Or is it something else I am missing?

Coloma's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I’d say that having less than stellar thoughts is not the same as actually acting on them, but if they are chronic and relentless than it is probably just a matter of time before they manifest in the disturbed persons behaviors. All action is proceeded by thought and disturbed/evil characters usually end up acting out eventually.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Evil is, subjective truth promoted as absolute truth.

The more one does it, the more evil one expresses. The less one does it…

KNOWITALL's avatar

I try not to judge, and I don’t see evil on levels. There are good people and bad people, and there are good people that do bad things, and bad people who do good things. Life is ever evolving and changing, and some people have faulty tools or a lack of tools to deal with it, in my humble opinion.

There have been times in my life (and I’m not evil at all) where I could have done evil, maybe even wanted to, and I chose not to, so I think @Coloma is pretty spot on.

burntbonez's avatar

I don’t think evil is a very useful concept. It doesn’t explain much of anything. And when bad things happen, I want to understand them so I can try to prevent them next time. Saying it’s just evil doesn’t help.

Coloma's avatar

@burntbonez Well..I think that “evil” is the best word we can find to describe people without conscience that can actually do what most of us can hardly imagine, or have the self restraint not to do. Words are only pointers. :-)

wundayatta's avatar

I think @burntbonez is right. If a person has no conscience, you have to ask why. Well, there are a lot of other questions you have to ask, too. Like what do you mean by conscience.

But we know that sociopaths don’t empathize with others very well. Other people’s pain doesn’t bother them. That helps us figure out what we need to do to protect ourselves from their behavior. Just calling them evil doesn’t help.

Why do people murder? Is it because they are evil? I think it’s probably because of a set of circumstances unique to that individual together with circumstances they have in common with other murderers. If we study these situations, we can prevent murders. If we call them evil and call it a day, we don’t prevent any other murders.

Paradox25's avatar

I’m in agreement with what Monsignor Hugh Benson communicated back to medium Anthony Borgia from the ‘third sphere’ of the afterlife shortly after he passed on about what evil really is. Evil is negation, and not a force unto itself such as love is. Evil is really the lack of love, just like cold is a lack of heat. It is apparently the divine spark of love/light from God that gives us our life force, and if a spiritual entity removes itself so far from any capacity for love then that spirit would inevitably perish.

There is debate in the spiritual community as to whether a spirit is allowed to decend low enough to actually annihilate itself, or whether God intervenes before this happens such as through reincarnation or another means. To me this means that evil is the lack of love, light and life and not a force in itself.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@KNOWITALL I try not to judge, and I don’t see evil on levels. There are good people and bad people, and there are good people that do bad things, and bad people who do good things. Based off the preponderant of the evidence, that is near impossible for people to do. Most people I have ever met place levels to evil regardless of who the person was before they did what was considered evil. A person could be “good” all of their life but let them kill someone or have sex with a minor, for example, they are then seen as an evil person, or the level of evil their actions were was larger or greater then that of a bigot or homophobe, etc.

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Evil is, subjective truth promoted as absolute truth.
The more one does it, the more evil one expresses. The less one does it… A person who does that but never actually maims, harms or murders someone is as evil as someone who cares not to promote anything but just want to inflict suffering of another person or people?

KNOWITALL's avatar

In person, I’m an extremely good judge of character and because I have been raised half secular and half religious, I form non-conventional life rules sometimes.

People are the greatest puzzle indeed, and the most interesting to study. Background, education, motivation, religion, race, IQ, all of it factors in to who a person is and sometimes only one thing determines good or bad, and that can be circumstance or location, or company kept.

What I really try to remember is that some people have really bad lives in general. I am so fortunate to only have some bad things in my life, but think about little girls and boys who are beaten instead of getting breakfast every morning. Think of the children who’s eyelashes are eaten off in the night by hoards of cockroaches and can only dream of nice clothes and Ipads you know? I mean some people are living through hell while we enjoy our lives, and then we wonder, why did they shoot up a mall full of people? Why are they so angry? Why do they hate all of us?

Society is so messed up, and mental health isn’t funded well, I just can’t say that a lifetime of ignorance or abuse or untreated mental illness makes anyone evil, more like ignored by the people who could have helped.

KNOWITALL (5318 )

mattbrowne's avatar

Hurting people unnecessarily. A vaccination can hurt too, but for a good cause.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Hurting people unnecessarily. A vaccination can hurt too, but for a good cause. OK…. @mattbrowne to simplify things, people who inflict pain, hurt, maim, or death upon others not to be helpful but by way of their own selfishness or even their own enjoyment. A person who likes to humiliate and belittle his employees would not be seen as evil as a person who kidnaps prostitutes, and tortures them before violently raping them and tossing their bodies out like trash. Why so, because the hookers suffered physically more than mentally, that they had a greater evil done to them, or their perpetrator more evil because he/she used tangible instruments to do the hurt and not words and actions alone?

mattbrowne's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central – I was talking about both physically and mentally hurting people. My example was about a physical exception. There are also mental exceptions. For example asking a rape victim to describe the perpetrator. This will help catch the guy so that he can no longer rape women.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central
“A person who does that but never actually maims, harms or murders someone is as evil as someone who cares not to promote anything but just want to inflict suffering of another person or people?”

They’ve promoted their subjective truth as objective truth… if only to themselves. Their personal truth has been put upon a pedestal above the objective truth of the actual reality they’ve created.

Maiming, harming, murdering… is not evil. That’s violence. The motivations behind the violence can be evil, but don’t necessarily have to be. The same violence could just as likely be motivated by justice.

Evil is when we think our truth is best for everyone… no matter the cost. Nothing to do with violence whatsoever. Violence is simply one possible outcome.

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