Showing posts with label Evil. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Evil. Show all posts

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Article Notes - Blaming ‘evil’: a philosophical paradox, unpacked by Elise Springer

 Article Notes - Blaming ‘evil’: a philosophical paradox, unpacked by Elise Springer

Days later, at the National Rifle Association’s convention in Texas, CEO Wayne LaPierre acknowledged the Uvalde victims before arguing against gun control legislation. His reasoning pivoted on the concept of evil: “If we as a nation were capable of legislating evil out of the hearts and minds of criminals who commit these heinous acts, we would have done it long ago.”


First, there’s still some confusion about whether to locate evil out in the world, or within the human heart. 


The 18th-century German philosopher Immanuel Kant, for example, defines evil as an inner moral failure, which might lurk behind even the most acceptable-looking acts.


Philosopher Gary Watson helps illuminate this paradox in his essay “Responsibility and the Limits of Evil.” Blame involves attempting to hold people responsible as members of a shared “moral community” – a network of social relations in which people share basic norms and push one another to repair moral expectations after they are violated. Taking responsibility, in Watson’s view, involves a kind of competence, an ability to work with others in community.

Evil, however, implies being beyond redemption, “beyond the pale” of this community. Calling someone evil signals a total lack of hope that they could take up the responsibility being assigned to them. And some people do seem to lack the social bonds, skills and attitudes required for responsibility. Examining the life story of a notorious school shooter, Watson reveals how his potential for belonging to a moral community had been brutally dismantled by chaotic abuse throughout his 


If evil implies such a complete absence of the skills and attitudes required for moral responsibility, then calling people evil – while still holding them morally responsible – is paradoxical.

For the complete article click here.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

How is partisan political party affiliation like religion?

In the book The Social Psychology of Morality: Exploring The Causes of Good and Evil" there is a chapter written by Jesse Graham and Jonathan Haidt entitled, "Sacred Values and Evil Adversaries: A Moral Foundations Approach" in which they describe the social -functiontionalist approach to describing moral systems and how they function in societies. As part ot this approach, they make a distinction, as much of sociology does, on the distinction between the sacred and the profane.

In describing this distinction between the sacried and the profane they write, "Shared emotions and practices related to sacred things bind people together in cults, churches, and communities. Sacredness does not require a God. Flags, national holidays, and other markers of collective solidarity are sacred in the same way - and serve the same group-binding function- as crosses and holy days." p.13

The MAGA people. the so called Trump base, have been called by media pundits a cult. In talking with people, and observing the jokes about family holiday get togethers being ruined by political discussions,  I get the idea that partisan party affiliation seems to be the same type of group identification as religious affilitation. Challenging a person's partisan political party affiliation seems the same as challenging their beliefs in their religion. The same can be said about die hard fans of a sports team or membership in fraternies, sororities, or civic groups like Rotary, Kiwanis, LIons, Elks, the Masons. I have seen the same identification to volunteer fire departments in rural communities.

At any rate this binding together with group values, beliefs, practices, traditions, rituals, symbols, is the foundational genesis for a moral orientation where the group insiders are good and the outsides are bad or at least suspect as not being "one of us."

Curious about what thoughts people might have about poltical party affiliation functioning for individuals and groups like religion. To what extent are these separation practices of "us and them" the basis of immorality?

Friday, January 24, 2020

Normalization of evil

As the impeachment trial unfolds in the U.S. senate, M. Scott Peck's book, The people of the lie: The hope for healing human evil keeps coming to mind.

The basis of the lie is the denial of truth in service of one's own ego.

What we are seeing unfold in the U.S. Senate under the leadership of Mitch McConnell is evil as Republican Senators deny the truth, refuse further information, and enable Presidential lies and deceit.

Our country is in great peril when we have normalized evil and we are seeing it displayed for those with eyes to see and ears to hear. Let's call it what it is so that we can deal with it and hopefully ameliorate it.

As human beings we all not only are capable of evil but have engaged in it to protect our egos. When we were kids, it was cute and expected, but as adults it is frightening because the failure to be honest and do the right thing often has grave consequences.

We are living in a political age in the United States where evil has become normalized and even has gotten to the point where it is not politically correct to speak of it. However, we here, at UU A Way Of Life think not only that it is time, it is past time.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Is the United States becoming the people of the lie?

In reflecting on moral character of individuals and the effect of the moral character of the individual on society, one wonders what the affect of President Donald Trump's 13, 435 lies so far in his 1,000 day presidency is on the United States and the world? HIs lies average 13.5 per day.

M. Scott Peck wrote an interesting book The People Of The Lie in which he describes the toxic impact of blaming others rather than taking personal responsibiliy.

What do you think the toxic impact of the Executive in Chief lies are on the moral integrity of the country? 

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

What is evil and the devil?

Yes and no. There is evil in the world and no there is not a devil.

What is evil? Evil is the lack of awareness and as a result, behaving in ways that are hurtful, and unfair to other humans and to the world. Evil is selfishness in the worse sense of the word, in the sense that a person, or persons nurture their own egos at others expense.

What human beings want more than anything is for things to be fair and when they are not fair, we call this injustice evil. Evil is perpetrated when the perpetrator is not considering the rights and desires of others and then oppresses, dominates, or harms them for one’s own egotistic gratification.

The devil is this injustice personified. Like our fantasy of a personal God, we also fantasize a personal devil, but there is no such person in reality. However, just as we all manifest a spark of the divine, we also, all manifest a spark of evil, because we can be unaware, egotistical, selfish, and in our effort to nurture our egos harm others and our world.

It is not just the lack of awareness which brings about evil but the stubborn refusal to become aware, to consider new information, to take into consideration other perspectives and interpretations. Justice is always bi-laterally, or multi-laterally defined, and it is the refusal to consider the rights and feelings, and thoughts of others that starts to smell of evil. M. Scott Peck said evil was denial and I think his definition is succinct.

Evil is perpetuated when people refuse to examine situations for injustice and acknowledge that harm has been done. It is in the acknowledgement of harm and the willingness to rectify injustice that evil is diminished and eliminated. Forgiveness is a huge part of diminishing and eliminating evil. To listen as injustice is described, to examine factors and circumstances that have contributed to injustice, to offer a sincere apology, and to make amends absolves evil and restores mutuality when evil has manifested in our lives. Unfortunately, few people have learned these skills and instead have engaged in competitive behavior where “winning” becomes more important than justice, superiority more important than equity, and dominance more important than mutuality. Lives lived in this manner have the odor of evil about them and we need to beware.

As children we are born innocent and naive. Our childish behavior is described as “cute”, “adorable”, and endearing. And yet, as we grow, we all loose our innocence, our naivete, and we become aware that injustice, pain, sin, is part of life. It is a necessary step in our development, and can make one bitter, cynical, paranoid, critical, close hearted, because we live in fear of being hurt, or we can find ways of managing the evil in ourselves, and in others, and become aware, empathic, compassionate, understanding, wise, open hearted, and a therapeutic force in our weary world.

People should not mistake kindness for weakness. The hall mark of a spiritually mature person is to exude kindness, but not to be played for a fool because evil abounds in the world and will continue until we create a world in which awareness brings about justice, peace, and freedom for all.

We have made an adjustment to the expectations of the world, the path of the ego, thinking this will make us happy forgetting our divine origin. It is this forgetting that is the genesis of evil as we project our guilt at separating our separation from the Oneness onto others playing the victim. We are not victims anywhere but in our own misguided minds. It is our wrong mindedness which is the root of evil personified as the devil.
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