AerospaceFan
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Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Tue Feb 14, 2006 5:01 am

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.
What's fair is fair.
 
lentigomaligna
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Tue Feb 14, 2006 5:16 am

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.
 
AeroWesty
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Tue Feb 14, 2006 5:23 am

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

RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Tue Feb 14, 2006 5:35 am

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
 
Gary2880
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Tue Feb 14, 2006 5:42 am

evil




Message too short
The message you were about to post is too short
Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel :- Samuel Johnson
 
AerospaceFan
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Tue Feb 14, 2006 6:39 am

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]
What's fair is fair.
 
sean1234
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Tue Feb 14, 2006 6:42 am

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
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Tue Feb 14, 2006 6:50 am

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]
What's fair is fair.
 
9VSPO
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Tue Feb 14, 2006 6:57 am

Quoting AerospaceFan (Thread starter):

Are you a philosophy student or something?? Your recent posts seem to be deeper than the Atlantic Ocean!  Wink
 
AerospaceFan
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Tue Feb 14, 2006 6:59 am

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
What's fair is fair.
 
Logan22L
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Tue Feb 14, 2006 7:02 am

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.
"The deeper you go, the higher you fly. The higher you fly, the deeper you go."
 
aerobalance
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Tue Feb 14, 2006 7:05 am

The choice is for each human to make for themselves.
"Sing a song, play guitar, make it snappy..."
 
AerospaceFan
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Tue Feb 14, 2006 7:15 am

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]
What's fair is fair.
 
SFOMEX
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Tue Feb 14, 2006 7:26 am

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
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prebennorholm
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Tue Feb 14, 2006 8:04 am

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
 
AerospaceFan
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Tue Feb 14, 2006 8:05 am

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.
What's fair is fair.
 
redngold
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Tue Feb 14, 2006 8:10 am

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.
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AerospaceFan
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Tue Feb 14, 2006 8:19 am

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?
What's fair is fair.
 
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aerorobnz
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Tue Feb 14, 2006 3:36 pm

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?
Flown to 120 Airports in 44 Countries on 73 Operators. Visited 55 Countries and counting. Wanderlust is like Syphilis, once you have the itch it's too late for treatment.
 
AerospaceFan
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Tue Feb 14, 2006 7:41 pm

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.
What's fair is fair.
 
Kay
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Tue Feb 14, 2006 8:00 pm

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
 
mrocktor
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Tue Feb 14, 2006 8:38 pm

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
 
AerospaceFan
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Tue Feb 14, 2006 8:43 pm

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.
What's fair is fair.
 
bezoar
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Tue Feb 14, 2006 9:31 pm

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
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Tue Feb 14, 2006 9:34 pm

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.
"The greatest threat to knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge."
 
Kay
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Wed Feb 15, 2006 3:14 am

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 22):
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.

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 mankind.

Ants too, are organized, they actually are a model of work and efficiency in their little underground cavities. So each species organizes itself the way it can.

Man does what is best for mankind. Look a bit more globally and you'll realize that the most important thing for man.. is man himself!!! No considerations for fairness here. If a man is fair to another man, that's because mankind has established that it will be a better environment for mankind himself to flourish in. But man is definitely just a species living on this earth. The smartest species, that was able to explore other planets and whatever else in the future.


But for the true nature of man, well it's just a species.

 Smile

Kay
 
9VSPO
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Wed Feb 15, 2006 3:23 am

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 12):
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.

You should be charging $100 an hour for this stuff!! You'll be putting Dr Phil out of business! Big grin
 
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HAWK21M
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Wed Feb 15, 2006 3:39 pm

Theres no Black or White,but only shades of Grey.
regds
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aerorobnz
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Wed Feb 15, 2006 3:45 pm

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 19):
Human beings, it is said, have the ability to decide what is good and what is evil, and to act accordingly



Quoting Mrocktor (Reply 21):
We don't have any characteristic that drastically sepparates us from the other animals, do we?

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 abstract concepts and identify patterns, but our wants and needs (ie: our instinctual reactions) are no different to any other mammal (which we have co-evolved with).

Everything human beings do in life is dictated by our instinct to reproduce, to ensure species survival, and secondly our own survival as individuals. We fight with our own kind to get our share of the resources we compete for, we use and we use the same tactic for survival as any group species - 'Safety in numbers' when we are being predated upon (usually by our own species) and we hunt in packs for the same reason. We have the same 'Fright or Flight' instinct that any animal on the planet possesses and in that respect we are very similar.

If one looks at human actions from around the world, you'd realise that although we have different ways of doing it and different 'moralities', we still do them for the same basic reasons. That is a sure sign that we are run by the reptilian part of our brains (instinct).

Quoting Kay (Reply 25):


Great last post. I found myself physically nodding in appoval as I read it, in iteself an example of uncontrollable instinctual reaction....

edited to add response

Quoting Prebennorholm (Reply 14):
Evil is when our brain fails to master the "computing power" needed to suppress the hunting instinct sufficiently.

That is absolutely correct.

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 17):
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.

My observations as a wildlife observer & photographer of the natural world is that it is not cruel, just indifferent. It plays no favourites and runs on the same rules/patterns for everyone. Life's processes are not corruptable or flawed which is the opposite of what humans are - hence the reason we think it is cruel.

[Edited 2006-02-15 07:55:32]
Flown to 120 Airports in 44 Countries on 73 Operators. Visited 55 Countries and counting. Wanderlust is like Syphilis, once you have the itch it's too late for treatment.
 
AerospaceFan
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Thu Feb 16, 2006 12:13 am

Quoting 9VSPO (Reply 26):
You should be charging $100 an hour for this stuff!! You'll be putting Dr Phil out of business!

Who says I ain't?

 Wink

Quoting HAWK21M (Reply 27):
Theres no Black or White,but only shades of Grey.

Agreed! For the most part.  Wink

Quoting Kay (Reply 25):
Tell me who you complained to when Katrina happened.

The victims complained to Congress.

Quoting AerorobNZ (Reply 28):
My observations as a wildlife observer & photographer of the natural world is that it is not cruel, just indifferent. It plays no favourites and runs on the same rules/patterns for everyone

By "the world" I meant something more than the natural world.
What's fair is fair.
 
ctbarnes
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Thu Feb 16, 2006 12:57 am

I believe people are basically good. We are also, however, vulnerable to temptaion and are easily seduced into doing things that are somewhat less than good. We are also a product of our experiences. We act (or do not act) based upon previous choices and how others reacted to those choices.

Ultimately we have free will, and the capacity for practical reasonining hard-wired into us. And left on our own we will ultimately choose the good.

Now, what constitutes 'good' and 'evil?' Well, I think that is probably enough for another thread...  Wink

Charles, SJ
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Kay
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Thu Feb 16, 2006 2:40 am

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 29):
The victims complained to Congress.

You mean from up above?  Wink

Kay
 
babybus
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Thu Feb 16, 2006 2:58 am

Man is good.

When Man is seen to be bad, it's only because he's being defensive.

I think everyone's great. Big grin
and with that..cabin crew, seats for landing please.
 
AerospaceFan
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Thu Feb 16, 2006 7:23 am

Quoting Ctbarnes (Reply 30):
Ultimately we have free will, and the capacity for practical reasonining hard-wired into us. And left on our own we will ultimately choose the good.

I hope we do, anyway.  Smile

Quoting Kay (Reply 31):
You mean from up above?

I mean the living ones, primarily.  Wink
What's fair is fair.
 
swatpamike
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Fri Feb 17, 2006 1:54 pm

Hello all

I vote for just plane stupid.

Cheers

swatpamike
 
satx
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Fri Feb 17, 2006 7:24 pm

Greedy + Ignorant + Xenophobic.

I guess that fits-in with evil then.




* My views come from living in Texas, USA. YMMV.
Open Season on Consumer Protections is Just Around the Corner...
 
AerospaceFan
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Sat Feb 18, 2006 1:40 am

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 as well be talking to a brick wall.

On the other hand, it's probably too pessimistic to believe that the good will of those who have it are always doomed to failure. I firmly believe in the opposite, and though it is as much a matter of faith as anything else, it's something that works for me.

Or else, perhaps in the end, there is no alternative.
What's fair is fair.
 
advancedkid
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Sat Feb 18, 2006 10:05 am

I agree with the quote,

Quoting SFOMEX (Reply 13):
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!

However, I find the Bible telling us that "mankind was born in sinn", which I find truly horrible and pesimistic.

best regards,

Advanced
 
lehpron
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Sat Feb 18, 2006 10:43 am

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 dense to figure out. I'm not being funny, I know many.

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

This is a purely philosophical question, your realize. There is no straight and final answer that we can all agree on, unless we disregard minority opinions (which many do anyway). People agree with majority opinion -- it's called common sense.

Well, my common sense says that humans should not be judged, but are as a form of reference to judge each other. Some do it themselves while others do it for them. In the end there are more followers than leaders. It is those leaders that shape our world, our lives, and our futures. What they think, believe, and intend to do matters so much. What do the rest of us do: Get by. We all have our little worlds to care about ans we judge the real world 'big picture' based on that tiny window. Can you blame us? No. We're not responsble for everyone else in the world, just those lives we touch on a regular basis. Alas, humans have the intinctual tendency to care. Saying, "I don't care" means you choose to make you reaction known -- you still care.

When asking if people are basically good or evil, think about you target audience, who is the 'basic' human? Who is supposed to represent us all, despite the extraordinary conformity that is modern society? That should make it easy, huh? If everyone is similar or the average joe/jane, then anyone will do, right?  Wink

So, who is basically good or evil? We can't stereotpye a whole group of folks based on the actions of a few, eh? Ah, but we do anyway, what for?
The meaning of life is curiosity; we were put on this planet to explore opportunities.
 
jay767
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Sat Feb 18, 2006 11:15 am

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 get tired,and yes all living things are evil and at the top of that list is my ex-wife  Sad
 
bhill
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Sun Feb 19, 2006 9:29 am

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 with capital punishment, all societies have "taboos" that if someone crosses, we agree is wrong, such as abuse of children or the elderly. To me the word "evil" connotates a malevonent, spiritual force was at work...but then again I was conditioned in a Judeo/Christian society..
Carpe Pices
 
AerospaceFan
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Mon Feb 20, 2006 6:36 am

Quoting Lehpron (Reply 38):
If everyone is similar or the average joe/jane, then anyone will do, right?

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 best of the best.

To me, the more interesting question is the former. On average, are people good or evil? And I think I've given a couple of answers upthread.  Smile

Quoting Bhill (Reply 40):
Define "Good" and "Evil"...we are the sum of our conditioning...be it familial or cultural...I

"Evil" can mean "malevolent, supernatural force", but in this thread, I take it to mean simply what it means in common sense usage. Introducing the supernatural into this is a complication that makes it more difficult to evaluate the specific question, I do believe.

To Jay: No problem; sometimes I post in larger numbers than at other times, so I think it averages out.  Smile
What's fair is fair.
 
bhill
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Mon Feb 20, 2006 4:44 pm

OK... then lets use "Bad".....whats yer point?
Carpe Pices
 
Pope
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Tue Feb 21, 2006 12:00 am

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 noticing that kids have no concept of differences between them. White, black, asian, disabled, tall, short, fat, thin, boys and girls all play without any idea that those characteristics even matter.

It's sad that as they get older, they start to notice the differences because of what society exposes them to.
Hypocrisy. It's the new black for liberals.
 
mrocktor
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Tue Feb 21, 2006 4:45 am

Quoting Bezoar (Reply 23):
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.

The problem for religionists is that they cannot conceive that reason itself provides us with objective morality, sans supernatural influences. The horror of being responsible for your own actions runs deep.

Quoting AerorobNZ (Reply 28):
(ie: our instinctual reactions) are no different to any other mammal (which we have co-evolved with).

Bullshit. What instincts do you have? To reproduce? How many times have you been convicted of rape then, if you have this instinct? Sure we have biological reactions that are automatic and derived from us being animals, the mind is in control though.

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 29):
Quoting HAWK21M (Reply 27):
Theres no Black or White,but only shades of Grey.

Agreed! For the most part.

Bullshit. There is no grey, you are right or you are wrong. Period. He who defends "greyness" is in search of moral sanction to do as he pleases without having to worry about morality.

Quoting Lehpron (Reply 38):
People agree with majority opinion -- it's called common sense.

Agreeing with the majority opinion, because it is the majority opinion, is called not having an opinion.

mrocktor
 
AerospaceFan
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Tue Feb 21, 2006 8:28 am

Quoting Mrocktor (Reply 44):
Bullshit. There is no grey, you are right or you are wrong. Period. He who defends "greyness" is in search of moral sanction to do as he pleases without having to worry about morality.

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: While you're objectively wrong, you -- relative to your own knowledge -- believe that you're right. And if you act in accordance with what society believes reasonable in that regard, then the moral sanction, as you put it, is not imposed against you. In other words, your reasonable reliance upon your own beliefs is often sufficient to relieve you of others' judgment.

Now, if you can tell me that what you believe is always 100% the truth, then I would ask you've ever made a mistake in your entire life. If not, then I think you must be the first such person since Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The point is that absolute morality is for the absolutely omniscient; the rest of us, relatively speaking, have to muddle along.
What's fair is fair.
 
bezoar
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Tue Feb 21, 2006 12:47 pm

Quoting Mrocktor (Reply 44):
The problem for religionists is that they cannot conceive that reason itself provides us with objective morality, sans supernatural influences.

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 faulty logic.

The problem for those who try to arrive at 'objective morality' by reason alone is to define what is right or good for everyone. I challenge you to prove that you or anyone else can even remain purely objective when it comes to defining what is good or what is right. The scientific method certainly exempts itself from defining such things, does it not?

Can one rationally separate themselves from their experiences and beliefs? It is in the interpretation of supposedly objective data where our humanity comes into play to infuse meaning into anything. If rational thinkers canÕt even agree on the approach to problems, how can the possibly arrive at some moral absolute for all of mankind?

The best one can do is to arrive at relativistic constructs that do not apply to everyone in the same way. And exactly whose values will those be? Will it be the most rational individual? How do you determine who is most rational? How do you determine if they are rational enough? It sounds like the basis for dictatorships and kingdoms.

I think you would agree that one of the great problems in the history of mankind has been in the imposition of one culture's values on another. This would apply as much to Christianity as it does for other systems of beliefs and values. I'll admit that Christianity has not always been thrust upon others with actual Christian values as the motivation.

However, the Christianity does not claim to rely on the beliefs of man, but what the Christian believes is God given. You can say that such thinking lacks rationality; that what we think is God given is really man given and that we are delusional. But such is faith. To believe in anything requires that you first believe in something, even if your belief is that rational thought provides the only hope for truth, and even if you eventually discard your original belief. You first have to believe that something CAN be known.

Speaking of discards: I'd like to modify my earlier statement that the best one can do is to develop relativistic values. Actually, I believe the best one can do is to emulate those values set forth by Christ. One could certainly do worse, and I have yet to see anyone do better.
"There are none so blind as those who will not see."
 
ctbarnes
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Tue Feb 21, 2006 2:01 pm

Quoting Bezoar (Reply 46):
The best one can do is to arrive at relativistic constructs that do not apply to everyone in the same way. And exactly whose values will those be? Will it be the most rational individual? How do you determine who is most rational? How do you determine if they are rational enough? It sounds like the basis for dictatorships and kingdoms.

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 realativinsm and the presence of objective truths.

Faith does not mean one stops employing reason. Reason is a vital componant to the way one forms one's conscience. Aristotole called it Phronesis, or practical wisdom and it is employed to help us understand the world around us and give us a means of using our experiences to help us to determine right from wrong. Faith plays a role, as does prayer and reflection in helping us determine right from wrong, but faith is not meant to blind us to what is happening around us.

Charles, SJ
The customer isn't a moron, she is your wife -David Ogilvy
 
AerospaceFan
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Tue Feb 21, 2006 8:12 pm

Quoting Bezoar (Reply 46):
Can one rationally separate themselves from their experiences and beliefs? It is in the interpretation of supposedly objective data where our humanity comes into play to infuse meaning into anything. If rational thinkers canÕt even agree on the approach to problems, how can the possibly arrive at some moral absolute for all of mankind?

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 idea of relativism philosophically messy and difficult -- the question that I apply that always fails the test of objectivity is as follows:

Would even the greatest living philosopher (which conveniently rules out Socrates, by the way, but that's another discussion) freely and willingless sacrifice his own life if it was deemed to be better for the moral climate of mankind? I very much doubt that he would. And thus, I cannot avoid the belief that philosophical egoism is part and parcel of any moral consideration.
What's fair is fair.
 
mrocktor
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RE: Is Mankind Basically Good Or Evil?

Wed Feb 22, 2006 3:25 am

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 45):
if you're objectively wrong, but you believe you're right, what are you?

You are honestly mistaken. You remain responsible for the consequences of your actions (always), but you are not at moral wrong. When someone points out your mistake and you refuse to correct it, you are being immoral. When the evidence of your mistake presents itself to you and you refuse to draw the obvious conclusion, you are being immoral.

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 45):
The point is that absolute morality is for the absolutely omniscient; the rest of us, relatively speaking, have to muddle along.

Wrong. Your belief stems from the philosophy of Subjectivism, succintly that "the truth is unkowable since we could always find out later that we were mistaken".

Knowlege, however, is contextual. If you do what is objectively moral within the context of your knowlege, your ethics are unimpeachable. You may be mistaken, you are not evil.

When you purposefully evade knowlege (such as believing in dogma instead of searching for rational ethics), you can't claim to be honestly mistaken. Evidence abounds that all useful knowlege is gained by reason. Accepting any less in the most important area of your life is morally reprehensible.

Quoting Bezoar (Reply 46):
I challenge you to prove that you or anyone else can even remain purely objective when it comes to defining what is good or what is right.

How would you like me to prove it? Would you like to provide ethical dilemmas and have me answer them?

Quoting Bezoar (Reply 46):
The best one can do is to arrive at relativistic constructs that do not apply to everyone in the same way. And exactly whose values will those be? Will it be the most rational individual? How do you determine who is most rational? How do you determine if they are rational enough? It sounds like the basis for dictatorships and kingdoms.

See subjectivism above.

The best we can do is to apply reason, conceptual thinking, non-contradiction to every problem. We may be honestly mistaken, we will never be evil. In any conflict among rational people one of them must be mistaken. If they are rational, the mistake will be found and both will benefit from the experience.

Quoting Bezoar (Reply 46):
You first have to believe that something CAN be known.

Ironic to hear this from someone that has as a basic assumption that some things CANNOT be known and must be "revealed" by some unseen, unfelt, undetectable, unprovable entity.

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 48):
Would even the greatest living philosopher (which conveniently rules out Socrates, by the way, but that's another discussion) freely and willingless sacrifice his own life if it was deemed to be better for the moral climate of mankind?

And why should sacrifice be the test of morality? Christianity (and many other religions) would have you believe that sacrifice is good and selfishness is evil. Reality though makes it clear that selfishness means life and sacrifice means death.

Either you disagree with what passes for morality these days, or you disagree with reality.

mrocktor

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