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Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?  
User currently offlineAerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (8 years 7 months 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 2949 times:

Do you think that mankind is basically good or evil?

After all, the same species that has killed amongst itself for thousands of years has also made great advances in science and medicine.

Alternatively, is mankind neither good nor evil?

Why or why not? Thanks in advance.

79 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineLentigomaligna From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (8 years 7 months 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 2939 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.

User currently onlineAeroWesty From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 20636 posts, RR: 62
Reply 2, posted (8 years 7 months 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 2937 times:

I believe it is evil to post a topic without presenting an argument one way or the other.  Wink


International Homo of Mystery
User currently offlineKiwiandrew From New Zealand, joined Jun 2005, 8565 posts, RR: 13
Reply 3, posted (8 years 7 months 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 2927 times:
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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  Wink



Moderation in all things ... including moderation ;-)
User currently offlineGary2880 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (8 years 7 months 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 2919 times:

evil




Message too short
The message you were about to post is too short


User currently offlineAerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (8 years 7 months 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 2905 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.

[Edited 2006-02-13 22:55:39]

User currently offlineSean1234 From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 411 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (8 years 7 months 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 2901 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?

User currently offlineAerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (8 years 7 months 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 2897 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?

[Edited 2006-02-13 22:58:26]

User currently offline9VSPO From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (8 years 7 months 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 2889 times:

Quoting AerospaceFan (Thread starter):

Are you a philosophy student or something?? Your recent posts seem to be deeper than the Atlantic Ocean!  Wink


User currently offlineAerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (8 years 7 months 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 2885 times:

Quoting 9VSPO (Reply 8):
Are you a philosophy student or something?? Your recent posts seem to be deeper than the Atlantic Ocean

I'm not a student any more, but philosophy was one of my favorite topics in college.  Smile


User currently offlineLogan22L From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (8 years 7 months 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 2882 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.


User currently offlineAerobalance From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 4682 posts, RR: 46
Reply 11, posted (8 years 7 months 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 2879 times:

The choice is for each human to make for themselves.


"Sing a song, play guitar, make it snappy..."
User currently offlineAerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (8 years 7 months 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 2863 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.

[Edited 2006-02-13 23:17:29]

User currently offlineSFOMEX From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (8 years 7 months 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 2854 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!  Smile

User currently offlinePrebennorholm From Denmark, joined Mar 2000, 6449 posts, RR: 54
Reply 14, posted (8 years 7 months 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 2844 times:

Mankind was created as hunters. Catch nothing and you starve. Let the neighbor take your game and you starve.

We still see that when two small kids play with 500 pieces of toys and they start fighting over the same toy until mom speaks out.

To function in our complicated societies is a question about education. An education which to some extent suppresses our hunting instincts.

Education teaches us teamwork. Teamwork is everything from acting as a responsible voter in a democratic country to treating your husband or wife with the same respect as you want to be treated.

It also teaches us to team up and educate each other to produce the hardware and services needed for a comfortable and high standard of living.

Good or evil? Evil is when our brain fails to master the "computing power" needed to suppress the hunting instinct sufficiently.



Always keep your number of landings equal to your number of take-offs, Preben Norholm
User currently offlineAerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (8 years 7 months 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 2844 times:

Quoting SFOMEX (Reply 13):
Free will is the key.

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.


User currently offlineRedngold From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 6907 posts, RR: 44
Reply 16, posted (8 years 7 months 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 2840 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.


Up, up and away!
User currently offlineAerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (8 years 7 months 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 2836 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?


User currently offlineAerorobnz From Rwanda, joined Feb 2001, 7188 posts, RR: 13
Reply 18, posted (8 years 7 months 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 2814 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?

User currently offlineAerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (8 years 7 months 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 2795 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.


User currently offlineKay From France, joined Mar 2002, 1884 posts, RR: 3
Reply 20, posted (8 years 7 months 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 2790 times:

Quoting AerospaceFan (Thread starter):
Do you think that mankind is basically good or evil?

Are mammals good or evil? what about fish?

We're just a species. We do what's good for us.

Don't fool yourself with silly theories about good/bad. We're just a species.

Kay


User currently offlineMrocktor From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1668 posts, RR: 49
Reply 21, posted (8 years 7 months 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 2785 times:

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 5):
"Good" implies altruism, or self-sacrifice.

"Evil" implies sadism.

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?
/sarcasm

mrocktor


User currently offlineAerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 22, posted (8 years 7 months 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 2784 times:

Quoting Kay (Reply 20):
Don't fool yourself with silly theories about good/bad. We're just a species.

Then please ask yourself: What basis do we have to complain when bad things happen to us? After all, que sera, sera, right?

If the government takes away your money without reason, are we justified in complaining?

If a thief breaks into your house and steals your possessions, what makes it right for you to complain?

What will be, will be, if we are simply a species, and we have no right to make judgments about it.


User currently offlineBezoar From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 807 posts, RR: 8
Reply 23, posted (8 years 7 months 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 2776 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."
User currently offlineQR332 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 24, posted (8 years 7 months 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 2775 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 Post contains images 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 Post contains images 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 Post contains images 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 Post contains images 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 Post contains images 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
31 Post contains images Kay : You mean from up above? Kay
32 Post contains images Babybus : Man is good. When Man is seen to be bad, it's only because he's being defensive. I think everyone's great.
33 Post contains images AerospaceFan : I hope we do, anyway. I mean the living ones, primarily.
34 Swatpamike : Hello all I vote for just plane stupid. Cheers swatpamike
35 SATX : Greedy + Ignorant + Xenophobic. I guess that fits-in with evil then. * My views come from living in Texas, USA. YMMV.
36 AerospaceFan : Can education be the answer? Sometimes I despair of that. You can educate people all you want, but if they are not receptive to your views, you might
37 Advancedkid : I agree with the quote, However, I find the Bible telling us that "mankind was born in sinn", which I find truly horrible and pesimistic. best regards
38 Post contains images Lehpron : Say humankind dude, don't be sexist...I'm sure some would say women are just as good or evil, or both on purpose to make the point that men are too de
39 Post contains images Jay767 : I am probably going to regret posting while drunk,but AerospaceFan I think you have thread starters disease,do your fingers ever get tired,do you ever
40 Bhill : Define "Good" and "Evil"...we are the sum of our conditioning...be it familial or cultural...I don't "care" for stoning people..and I have concerns wi
41 Post contains images AerospaceFan : Yes, if that's what we're interested in at the moment. There are several ways to define mankind -- by the laws of averages, for example, or by the be
42 Bhill : OK... then lets use "Bad".....whats yer point?
43 Pope : If you've ever watched young kids play, you'll come to the conclusion that hate is a learned emotion. I remember taking my baby girl to the park and n
44 Mrocktor : The problem for religionists is that they cannot conceive that reason itself provides us with objective morality, sans supernatural influences. The h
45 AerospaceFan : Great, but under that scheme, if you're objectively wrong, but you believe you're right, what are you? The only compromise is to say precisely that:
46 Bezoar : Having faith neither eliminates the ability or the need to have reason. On the other hand, no one, whether they claim faith or not, is immune to faul
47 Ctbarnes : In order to argue that, however, you'd have to argue that the Holocaust was justified. That's the big problem when you start moving into meta-ethical
48 AerospaceFan : Very well said. Although I would like very much to believe in the existence of objective morality -- and I really do mean this, because I find the id
49 Mrocktor : You are honestly mistaken. You remain responsible for the consequences of your actions (always), but you are not at moral wrong. When someone points
50 Post contains images Lehpron : Guess what, that is wwhat the consumer product instry is doing, it is called "do what works" People are unaware that other people have the same opini
51 Ctbarnes : All well and good, but whose reality are we talking about here? Charles, SJ
52 Post contains images Bohica : Mankind is cool.
53 AerorobNZ : What's rape got to do with it?? Animals procreate when they are on heat, ie: when they are more receptive to mating/having intercourse, .....Go out m
54 Mika : Neither, we are all (except some extreme cases with a severe physical brain disorder/malfunction) products of our surroundings and the persons contain
55 Mrocktor : Is there more than one? How do you travel between them? I never saw you, we have never spoken: if we both walk into a room with an object we will see
56 Post contains images Ctbarnes : Careful... Your skating dangerously close to an objective truth. Charles, SJ
57 Mrocktor : It is objective truth. mrocktor
58 AerospaceFan : Maybe it has something to do with the fact that if not for sacrifice, our very existence would be in question. Our soldiers on the front lines sacrif
59 Bezoar : My weekly diatribe.... As has been said before, we have choices, or at least we have the capacity to make choices. We could succumb to our instincts a
60 Mrocktor : No, it would not. Wrong. Soldiers *risk* their lives because they realize this is necessary to protect *freedom*. A life without freedom is not worth
61 Ctbarnes : Unless that too is a fantasy. Charles, SJ
62 Alessandro : I like to put this way, if it´s too crowded like huge towns, humans become stressed and stress leads often to aggressivness. I say few humans less st
63 Mrocktor : Except its not. If it were, you would be a figment of imagination and thus your argument would be irrelevant. In order to propose an argument you mus
64 Post contains images Bezoar : My answers to your questions, since you were kind enough to answer mine so elegantly 1) All that exists in the universe is well beyond manÕs ability
65 Jetset25j : Humans are Jelous creatures. Its in our nature to want to be on top in one way or another. When materialism comes into play it gets even nastier. Then
66 Ctbarnes : There is nothing more conformable to reason than the rejection of reason. -Blaise Pascal Charles, SJ
67 AerospaceFan : Sorry, but that's not -- ahem -- reasonable. Reason suggests that the world exists. Why does the world exist? Reason does not give an answer rooted i
68 Mrocktor : This is good material for debate, thanks: The first sentence is arbitrary. Why should "all that exists" be beyond our understanding? It's kind of like
69 Mrocktor : Sepparate post, since this is not on the same level. Wow if Blaise Pascal said that, it must be true. Despite the fact that it is nonsense. Wrong. Dir
70 AerospaceFan : Reason says that reason cannot penetrate to the beginnings of the universe. How on Earth is this "unreason"? I do not deny the existence of the unive
71 Mrocktor : Because the universe is all there is, including time. "Begginings" is a concept applied within causality. Since the universe contains all possible ca
72 Bezoar : I think one 'fatal flaw' is that our reason does not allow us to contemplate a moment when the universe and time did not exist. Where you go with rea
73 AerospaceFan : That doesn't make any sense to me. Are you suggesting that Hume was actually correct in that causation makes no sense at all? Because that's the ulti
74 Mrocktor : Actually, reason demands that we ignore such a speculation as arbitray. Based on what evidence do you speculate that there was a "moment" when the un
75 AerospaceFan : But your arbitrary exclusion of the causality behind the creation of the universe is just that -- arbitrary. I'm not saying that reason cannot be sel
76 Mrocktor : I'm not excluding anything. The universe is all there is, if someting "created" the universe, that something has to exist. If it exists it's part of
77 AerospaceFan : First of all, Mrocktor, I want to thank you for a most interesting line of discussion. You are obviously a most perceptive and intelligent person, and
78 Mrocktor : This may or may not be true, there are many cosmologists and many theories. Philosophy (and what we are discussing is philosophy, specifically metaph
79 AerospaceFan : Mrocktor, it has become clear to me that we are evenly matched, or that perhaps you have convictions that arise from knowledge that as yet I have not
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