Lentigomaligna From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 1, posted (7 years 4 months 1 week 23 hours ago) and read 2509 times:
Why does it have to be either? These are terms that we've created. Why can't mankind just be mankind. I don't think mankind is inherently evil (not that I believe that evil exists as an entity) nor is it inherently good.
Kiwiandrew From New Zealand, joined Jun 2005, 8435 posts, RR: 14 Reply 3, posted (7 years 4 months 1 week 22 hours ago) and read 2497 times:
neither ... we are just human beings , which means that all of us are flawed in one way or another* . most of us muddle through trying to get on with our lives while causing minimum avoidable distress to others
* apart from me , obviously
Moderation in all things ... including moderation ;-)
AerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 5, posted (7 years 4 months 1 week 21 hours ago) and read 2475 times:
The question doesn't have a firm answer, it seems to me. It's a matter of opinion.
Before we can say whether mankind is good or evil, or neither, we have to define our terms.
"Good" and "evil" are themselves difficult to define.
So let me define them somewhat:
"Good" implies altruism, or self-sacrifice.
"Evil" implies sadism.
Under these quasi-definitions, I am of the opinion that mankind is more good than evil, because most of us would rather do things that are good, even if that means that we may suffer somewhat, than do things that needlessly inflict harm on others.
Sean1234 From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 411 posts, RR: 0 Reply 6, posted (7 years 4 months 1 week 21 hours ago) and read 2471 times:
Just leaving mankind as mankind is lacking. First you haven't even qualified the concepts of evil and good. You mention violence and war but is this categorically bad? The problem with the notions of good and evil is that they each require the other. For something to be good there has to exist something that is bad, that is the status of goodness requires a comparative opposite. I think you are blurring evil and self-interest together. All biological entities act in their own interest. Is going to war an evil act or one of self-interest?
AerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 7, posted (7 years 4 months 1 week 21 hours ago) and read 2467 times:
Quoting Sean1234 (Reply 6): All biological entities act in their own interest. Is going to war an evil act or one of self-interest?
Well, it seems to me that the sentence, "All biological entities act in their own interest" is close to a truism unless you define "interest" as something other than "that which is normally sought", because what is normally sought is what is by definition what biological entities desire. If it's defined in the conventional way, what the sentence means is "All biological entities act so as to obtain that which they normally seek", which is similar to "All biological entities act so as to obtain that which they desire", which is a truism.
But that aside, if you define "interest" independently of what the biological entity wants, but rather by what it needs, then that's much more interesting.
For example, if you define "interest" as "that which promotes the health of the biological entity", then an objective route is found through which you can determine whether the statement is true. If it's not objectively true that the health of the biological entity is promoted in a given case, then the statement is in that instance untrue.
That said, suppose a soldier sacrifices his life to save others in his unit. Wouldn't this be a case where the soldier, though no less a biological entity, has acted against his interest? Wouldn't this indicate that there is more to what is "good" than what is implied in your statement?
Logan22L From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 10, posted (7 years 4 months 1 week 21 hours ago) and read 2452 times:
Quoting AerospaceFan (Thread starter): After all, the same species that has killed amongst itself for thousands of years has also made great advances in science and medicine.
The advances in science and medicine may have a certain philanthropic bent, but they still are undertaken for self gain.
I'm not sure the question really has an answer. Some people are inherently good, some inherently bad. Most others have a mix. If you'd watch society and see the people drive, park, behave in super market check-out lines, you'd see plenty of "un-noticed" behavior - that is fitting in with mores and thus "not bad" = good. Also, there would be those few who are really @$$holes. There are probably fewer bad things going on that good things, but the bad things are really noticed.
AerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 12, posted (7 years 4 months 1 week 21 hours ago) and read 2433 times:
I agree that it's a matter of opinion.
Moreover, one's opinion can change depending on the circumstances. As a matter of practicality, if misfortune strikes, one is more prone to see the negative side of humanity where, in happier times, one was as optimistic as one was carefree.
This suggests, then, that whether mankind is basically good or evil, at least to oneself, is in some measure dependent on how one goes about living one's life.
For example, if you have a consistently negative outlook, you will see mankind less favorably, as people may tend to avoid you. In this way, you create your own reality. If you have a positive outlook, you will generally find it easier to attract friends, who are likely to want to maintain your friendship by being nice to you.
But how far can this go?
If a large group of people treats life as though everything is fine and dandy, all day, every day, can they build their own reality and ensure happiness forevermore? There's something slightly creepy about such an idea; something cultish, perhaps. A Panglossian world seems likely to die a crushing death once real reality intrudes.
Thus, going about life is a challenge every day, balancing hope with reality.
Perhaps one should, in public, act as though people are good, but, in private, expect them to be evil. And hope for the best.
SFOMEX From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 13, posted (7 years 4 months 1 week 21 hours ago) and read 2424 times:
Free will is the key. Mankind knows what is good and what is evil, yet we are allowed to chose which path we want to follow. Hence, many times we opt for doing what is evil even if we are aware that is against what is good. Thankfully, most people are good most of the time!
Agreed! In that "real reality" that I spoke about, if all of us simply acted in accordance with the angels of our better natures, we would be closer to where we really want to be than we are. (This presumes, of course, that we all can have such angels; this is admittedly something of a conjecture.)
And that, perhaps, is the best means by which Earth can come closest to Heaven.
Redngold From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 6907 posts, RR: 51 Reply 16, posted (7 years 4 months 1 week 20 hours ago) and read 2410 times:
I wish we were all inherently good... I really do. I've been burned enough times, though, that I'm starting to understand why sharing what I believe is Truth is important, because I may be the only person who helps another win the battle between good and evil that rages in his/her heart.
AerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 17, posted (7 years 4 months 1 week 20 hours ago) and read 2406 times:
Quoting Redngold (Reply 16): I wish we were all inherently good... I really do. I've been burned enough times, though, that I'm starting to understand why sharing what I believe is Truth is important, because I may be the only person who helps another win the battle between good and evil that rages in his/her heart.
I think that one of the saddest things that one can see in the world is the abject failure of good intentions. For when things go badly, it isn't as heartbreaking as when one has done all one can to make it go well.
The world can be a very cruel place, and I do not blame those who lose faith in humanity, depending on their own personal experiences.
Relatedly, one thing that I feel sets many people up for failure is the expectation of unconditional love in marriage, or for that matter, in any human relationship. Unconditional love is far more rare than one sees in the ideal. I believe that a realistic expectation of the goodness one can expect for others can actually be far more healthful than the romanticized vision sown by poets and other idealists.
Nonetheless, there should be little doubt that there is goodness in all, unless one sees within one's own heart that one cannot be good to others. And who among us desires to admit that?
Aerorobnz From Rwanda, joined Feb 2001, 6369 posts, RR: 13 Reply 18, posted (7 years 4 months 1 week 12 hours ago) and read 2384 times:
It is neither, it is just a species doing what a species of animal does, surviving by whatever means possible. You don't call a Lion evil for killling for food, killing rival species like Hyenas or rivals within its species, why should a human be any different?
AerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 19, posted (7 years 4 months 1 week 8 hours ago) and read 2365 times:
Quoting Aerorobnz (Reply 18): It is neither, it is just a species doing what a species of animal does, surviving by whatever means possible. You don't call a Lion evil for killling for food, killing rival species like Hyenas or rivals within its species, why should a human be any different?
That's an interesting perspective. But the point is that some people think that animals cannot be morally good or evil, but human beings can. Human beings, it is said, have the ability to decide what is good and what is evil, and to act accordingly. Animals, it is said, do not.
Awesome. Someone who actually defines what they are talking about, congratulations.
That said, observe a simple fact about your definitions: it is impossible to survive by being "good", as you define it. If everyone sacrifices to everyone else, in the end everyone ends up with nothing. You have to have something to sacrifice it, and sacrifice never produces anything for you. Once you sacrifice all you have, you are finished.
Now observe something else about your definitions: they are not inclusive. Is it not possible to live without sacrificing for others and without being sadistic?
I offer the following definitions:
Good: all that which contributes to the rational life of each person (yes, selfishness)
Evil: all that which contributes to the destruction of rational life of each person (yes, altruism, among other things)
The key is "rational".
Forcing other people to give you money (as does a thief) is not contributing to that person's life. Rather, it exposes him to retribution and destroys his self confidence (he is a parasite, uncapable of supporting himself, dependent of others - and he knows it). Stealing is not selfishness, it is stupidity.
Forcing people to help the poor (taxes -> welfare) is not good. First, you are stealing from people who actually earned something. Second, you are giving something for nothing to the "needy". On one hand you violate the rights of those you tax, on the other you provide an unearned reward to the ones you give welfare money to. This destroys the will to produce of the taxed (witness the rush to "tax shelter" money instead of investing it), it destroys the goodwill of the taxed too ("I pay my taxes, I don't have to help the poor any more than that"). It destroys the self esteem of the benefitted (because the message is: you can't fend for yourself, the government will support you) and it destroys their will to achieve as well ("I'm not good enough to support myself, but I don't need to - I can live off welfare").
As the example above clearly indicates, your definition of "good" - which is prevalent among people and is the one defended by Christianity - is the main reason why true good (the good that benefits each one of us at the expense of no other) is so hard to come by.
Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 17): I think that one of the saddest things that one can see in the world is the abject failure of good intentions. For when things go badly, it isn't as heartbreaking as when one has done all one can to make it go well.
Good intentions are not enough. You have to actually be good. The good, by my definition, always works unless evil people actively oppose it and the good people don't fight them.
Quoting Aerorobnz (Reply 18): surviving by whatever means possible. You don't call a Lion evil for killling for food, killing rival species like Hyenas or rivals within its species, why should a human be any different?
Really! Why should humans be any different? I mean, we don't have any characteristic that drastically sepparates us from the other animals, do we?
Bezoar From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 805 posts, RR: 9 Reply 23, posted (7 years 4 months 1 week 7 hours ago) and read 2346 times:
We have free will, which means we have the ability to choose between whatever we - as individuals - see as being right and wrong, good and evil, or however we want to view it.
Nobody, and I do use this term rigidly, always chooses what is right or good. This is because we sometimes choose out of ignorance, or spite, or pride, or fail to choose when we should be choosing.
A huge problem is defining what is good and bad. The problem for those of Christian faith is that the standard is God's perfection and thus unattainable on their own accord. The problem for humanists (see Mrocktor comments) is that the standard is ultimately relative to each individual, and thus is a changing definition for mankind as a whole.
"There are none so blind as those who will not see."
QR332 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 24, posted (7 years 4 months 1 week 7 hours ago) and read 2345 times:
We all have a huge capacity to be evil, but at the same time we can be just as good. I think that in general, we are more evil than good, but you cannot clearly say that the entire human race is good or evil.
25 Kay: Tell me who you complained to when Katrina happened. All what you said refers to civilization and society, as it was conceived with the years by mank
26 9VSPO: You should be charging $100 an hour for this stuff!! You'll be putting Dr Phil out of business!
27 HAWK21M: Theres no Black or White,but only shades of Grey. regds MEL
28 AerorobNZ: We do have far more capacity for learning than most species, there is no no doubt about it, Yes we are very different, in the way that we can grasp a
29 AerospaceFan: Who says I ain't? Agreed! For the most part. The victims complained to Congress. By "the world" I meant something more than the natural world.
30 Ctbarnes: I believe people are basically good. We are also, however, vulnerable to temptaion and are easily seduced into doing things that are somewhat less tha