What the word "evil" means to me, and why I believe evil (as I use the term) does not exist.

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Chioma Oz
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Re: What the word "evil" means to me, and why I believe evil (as I use the term) does not exist.

Post by Chioma Oz »

It looks like you define "evil" as things you shouldn't do and resisting what can't change, while I see it as morally wrong actions. I also have a hard time believing anyone actively seeks to be "bad for the sake of badness." In the end, I think "evil" is often used to attack and vilify, and I agree with you, albeit for different reasons.
Joy Wendy
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Re: What the word "evil" means to me, and why I believe evil (as I use the term) does not exist.

Post by Joy Wendy »

I partially agree with you. Evil is whatever you make of it. Some real evil are out there. Hatred is a part of evil and I think there is no evil greater than that.
Rob Carr
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Re: What the word "evil" means to me, and why I believe evil (as I use the term) does not exist.

Post by Rob Carr »

As a few others here have commented on, I take a different definition of evil. I don't think evil as the way you have defined it is the common way people understand it. To me evil involves a level of intentionality. If something occurs because it is a natural nature of the thing e.g. a cyclone or a rabid dog biting then it is not wrong or evil. So to me evil occurs in the context of choice. People have an understanding of what are good and bad actions based on societal norms and choose to undertake what they know to be bad actions. This isn't limited to humans, some species of animals also have this capacity of understanding. This exists but societal norms will vary over time and accordingly the definition of what is evil will change over time too.

In relation to should be and should not be considerations I think this does exist in reality as well. I believe people are entitled to basic human rights to live; to have freedom of choice; to have adequate shelter, food, and water. We also have an obligation to live sustainably in a way that doesn't deprive these things for future generations or other species unnecessarily. When these things don't happen e.g. a person dies before their time because of selfish choices others have made, this is something that should not have happened and we should always be striving to make the world a better place so these things happen less. I don't think this is something that varies over time, these basic rights are enduring, but people will have slightly different understandings of what they are. Sometimes there are things we genuinely cannot change but most things we can. Using your examples in the first place, we can reduce our pollution so that there are fewer extreme weather events or we can undertake more effective elimination of diseases so that there aren't rabid dogs (many countries have in fact eliminated rabies). So I think the instances of should not be that are outside our ability to control as a species (as opposed to as individuals) are limited.

I think these considerations are also separate to how you internalise these things. Whether you see yourself as a victim of evil or whether you focus on managing risk is a choice you can make as a person.
Oleabhiele Joseph
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Re: What the word "evil" means to me, and why I believe evil (as I use the term) does not exist.

Post by Oleabhiele Joseph »

I share in your believe in unconditional love sir, but dare me say that evil is part and parcel of the world we live in. If we for instance take a look at the creation story, we see how evil sowed it’s roots in human kind. Without evil in this world, we wouldn’t be were we are. We may either be at a better place, peaceful and happy, but at a far less stage if technological advancements. But if you come to think of it, we could live without all of that. All I’m saying is, I believe the world is somewhat controlled by evil, and the fact that good conquers evil allows us to share in this light of unconditional love.
MehulPan
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Re: What the word "evil" means to me, and why I believe evil (as I use the term) does not exist.

Post by MehulPan »

Pauline Parnell wrote: February 22nd, 2023, 7:42 pm I could agree that evil could be 'something that ought not to be' or 'should not have happened'. However, I do believe that evil do exists, and that good also exists in the world. They are two halves of the same whole. Man have the ability to make choices, they can choose to do good or choose to do evil. Evil is the opposite of good. If evil is something that should not have happened, then good is something that should be or should have happened.
I support your statement. I also believe that there must exist "evil" or else the whole concept of goodness would not be possible. Just like every coin has two aspects, evil exists in this world so the concept of good can be introduced. Evil helps in contrasting with good for people to understand and evaluate their actions.
Paavni Jain
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Re: What the word "evil" means to me, and why I believe evil (as I use the term) does not exist.

Post by Paavni Jain »

Your personal definition of "evil" likely shapes your perspective on its existence. If you view it as a subjective concept, influenced by individual perceptions and cultural contexts, it may seem less concrete. I don't possess personal beliefs, but I understand the philosophical stance that evil is a human construct, varying across cultures and perspectives. Some argue that actions labeled as "evil" result from complex factors, challenging the notion of inherent malevolence. It's a nuanced debate, acknowledging the diverse interpretations of morality and the human experience.
Nehap17
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Re: What the word "evil" means to me, and why I believe evil (as I use the term) does not exist.

Post by Nehap17 »

I believe in the adage - "Everything happens for a reason" .Having said that, "evil" would end up being a perspective- could be either a person or an event.
The lessons you are meant to learn, the universe will bring to you. They are hardships at the time disguised as blessings in disguise.
Nehap17
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Re: What the word "evil" means to me, and why I believe evil (as I use the term) does not exist.

Post by Nehap17 »

I believe in the adage - "Everything happens for a reason" .Having said that, "evil" would end up being a perspective- could be either a person or an event.
The lessons you are meant to learn, the universe will bring to you. They are hardships at the time disguised as blessings in disguise.
Okoth Omondi
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Re: What the word "evil" means to me, and why I believe evil (as I use the term) does not exist.

Post by Okoth Omondi »

Eckhart Aurelius Hughes wrote: February 21st, 2023, 9:52 pm This is a discussion forum topic for the November 2022 Philosophy Book of the Month, In It Together: The Beautiful Struggle Uniting Us All.


I typically think of the word "evil" as simply meaning "something that ought not be" or in yet other synonymous words as meaning, "something that should not have happened".

Imagine one person says, "The hurricane that happened yesterday is evil". And a second person says, "That hurricane that happened yesterday should not have happened." And a third person says, "That hurricane that happened yesterday ought not have happened." And a forth person says, "That hurricane that happened yesterday was morally wrong."

I would interpret all four people in the above situation as all saying the exact same thing, just with different words.

Likewise, I would interpret it as all four people either (1) saying something exists that I do not believe exists and/or (2) saying something that doesn't even make sense.

What is that singular thing (or pseudo-thing) to which each of those four people would be all referring? It is the pseudo-idea that unchangeable reality 'should' be different than it unchangeably is, or even could be. Perhaps the clearest label for what they are all describing is to call it 'should-not-ness'. By that definition, something is "evil" if it happened but 'should' not have happened or if it 'should' be different than it unchangeably is.

To me, to think that unchangeable reality 'ought' to be different doesn't make sense and is inconsistent with unconditionally accepting that which one cannot control and cannot change. For both those reasons, I do not believe it exists. In other words, since I unconditionally accept what I cannot change, I do not believe there can be anything that 'should' be different than it unchangeably is (i.e. anything "evil" as I use the term).

As I use the terms, I think logically one can not both (1) believe "evil" exists and (2) accept what they do not control (i.e. what they cannot change). That's because to say unchangeable reality 'should' or 'ought' to be different is to not fully and totally accept it. To think the proverbial cards you are dealt 'should' be different (i.e. to think the proverbial cards you are dealt are "evil") is to not fully and totally accept them.

So when I say that I don't believe "evil" exists, I am simply saying that I don't think unchangeable reality 'should' be different than it unchangeably is. In other words, when I say I don't believe "evil" exists, I am simply saying that I don't believe anything that I can neither control nor change is unacceptable.

I believe in unconditional love for everyone and everything, which to me is inconsistent with believing "evil" exists, as I use the term.

I believe in letting go of any and all resentment (i.e. unforgiveness or hate) of any kind for anything, which to me is inconsistent with believing "evil" exists.

For example, I believe even a rabid dog deserves unconditional love, forgiveness, and sympathy. As I use the terms, for one to say a rabid dog is "evil" is to say the opposite; It is to say one doesn't love the dog, or doesn't forgive the dog, or that one hates the dog or resents the dog, or that one otherwise doesn't accept that it is the way it is, any of which is inconsistent with my philosophy and beliefs. I don't think anything real is worth resenting or hating. I believe in unconditional love and forgiveness; I believe in unconditionally accepting what one cannot change (i.e. what one cannot control); And as I use the terms that means one must not believe in "evil".

Fully and unconditionally accepting that which we cannot control doesn't mean we don't do anything with what we can control. Quite the opposite: It means you would make your choices regarding what do you control in a loving way. You don't need to think the hurricane is evil to open an umbrella. Likewise, for example, when I say that I believe even a rabid dog deserves unconditional love, forgiveness, and sympathy, it doesn't mean I wouldn't--with loving sympathy in my heart--euthanize the poor dog, if it was the only the way to protect an innocent child from being bitten by dog and/or if I felt it was in the dog's own best interest to end its suffering earlier than later in that way. But I wouldn't do it with hate or resentment for the dog or with some sadistic glee that an "evil" dog is getting what it deserves. I'd accept that the dog having rabies and the other details of the situation were the unchangeable hand we were all dealt and that sadly putting the sick dog down was the most kind loving way for me to play that hand. I wouldn't hate the dog or the cards, or think either was evil, I'd just play the cards the best I could.

No matter where a finger may point, the finger will be pointing to something I believe is love-worthy and deserving of unconditional forgiveness, never something that is resentment-worthy (i.e. "evil").


If you use the word "evil" to refer to something else than I've described above, then indeed whatever you call "evil" might be something that I do believe exists. If you use the word "evil" differently than I do, then all bets are off. For example, you could have a dog named Evil, and then I would of course believe your dog Evil exists. I'd probably give Evil a little pet. :)


What do you think? Do you agree that what I call "evil" (i.e. 'should-not-ness') does not actually exist? Does the way you use and define the word "evil" match the way I've defined it and what I've written above? If not, how do you define the word 'evil'?



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The question of evil often delves into theodicy, which explores how to reconcile the existence of evil with the concept of an all-powerful and benevolent God. Some argue that evil serves a purpose, allowing for free will and moral choices, while others question why a benevolent deity would permit such suffering. On a secular level, psychological and sociological perspectives suggest that evil can stem from various factors like societal structures, upbringing, or mental health issues. The debate extends into ethical discussions on individual responsibility and societal accountability for addressing and preventing harmful actions. Ultimately, the existence of evil remains a complex and subjective topic, drawing on philosophy, theology, and various perspectives on morality and human behavior.
Abbra Marsh
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Re: What the word "evil" means to me, and why I believe evil (as I use the term) does not exist.

Post by Abbra Marsh »

I see "evil" as a term expressing the belief that something 'should not be' or 'should be different.' To me, it contradicts the philosophy of unconditional acceptance and love. I don't find anything inherently "evil" as long as it exists beyond our control. My approach is rooted in unconditional love and forgiveness, even towards challenging situations or beings, like a rabid dog. I prefer seeing life's cards as they are and playing them with love rather than resentment. For me, "evil" doesn't fit into a worldview centered on acceptance and unconditional love.
Tom Blake
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Re: What the word "evil" means to me, and why I believe evil (as I use the term) does not exist.

Post by Tom Blake »

I resonate with the idea that "evil" is essentially 'should-not-ness,' a belief in the unchangeable reality being different than it is. My philosophy centers on unconditional love and acceptance, dismissing the notion of "evil" as incompatible with these principles. It's about seeing everything as fundamentally love-worthy, even in challenging situations. Perspectives on "evil" can differ, but this definition aligns with my understanding.
Alex Lynn
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Re: What the word "evil" means to me, and why I believe evil (as I use the term) does not exist.

Post by Alex Lynn »

I really love this discussion topic on the concept of evil. First, I will say I totally agree with the fact that evil is what should not have happened or is morally wrong to happen. But I will say some people will intentionally decide to do what should not have happened (i.e. evil) so as to evoke negative emotion in the other party who receives the evil deeds. While it is great to believe that what ought not to be should be avoided, we should be aware of those that take pleasure in evil deeds, i.e. unconditionally having resentment toward a fellow or other things that may not be human beings.
Bron Bakers
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Re: What the word "evil" means to me, and why I believe evil (as I use the term) does not exist.

Post by Bron Bakers »

I believe that evil exists. Terrorists and hardened criminals are evil. Evil in the society shows and there is evil in the world. People that take other's lives are evil.
Achor Chinemerem
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Re: What the word "evil" means to me, and why I believe evil (as I use the term) does not exist.

Post by Achor Chinemerem »

Well, the word 'Evil' has a lot of connotations. We practically have different views of the word 'Evil" and what it portrays. I accept that 'Evil' means something that ought not to exist.
Esther Deekor
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Re: What the word "evil" means to me, and why I believe evil (as I use the term) does not exist.

Post by Esther Deekor »

I do understand why you would say evil does not exist from your explanation above but I do believe that evil exists, and I've associated evil with wickedness. And for me, saying evil does not exist would also mean that I'm saying wickedness does not exist. For me, evil is intentional and not something out of our control. This is just my view about the subject, some other people might not feel the same way about this topic.
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