More Evil, Less Good

John Zande, a colleague blogger has authored a book titled “On The Problem of Good.” It’s a bold and an eloquent exposition premised on the hypothesis that “there is no good, everything degenerates into evil” according to the author. It’s hardly a book for the regular reader because it’s highly philosophical or abstract and it’s backed by scientific facts. Many of you already know my position on Science.

The founder of Christianity asserts that there is none that is good except God (Mathew 19:17), so the author may not be far from truth except that he claims evil is the basis of existence, good is illusionary, hence there is nothing wrong with the world. Here I disagree. There is everything wrong with the world. When we speak of life or existence, we speak of living things and how they percieve their environment. I believe humans, in spite of all the evil in this world, gravitate towards good. No sane person dreams of war, violence, hate, death etc.

How could such virtues as peace, unity, love, compassion, genuine altruism etc be evil? What about people who devote their lives to taking care of orphaned children, the homeless, the sick, victims of abuse, the vulnerable etc. This acts appear good to me and contradict the Darwinian notion of “survival of the fittest”. The instinct to help eachother when in trouble, to form and maintain social ties, to strive for morality and fairness etc that’s one tiny way us humans are different.

I have personally witnessed good. I have seen mothers risk their lives to save their children from harm. I have seen fathers sacrifice their future so that their children could have one. I have seen strangers offer refuge to the afflicted. I have seen people donate all their wealth to the needy after their death. I have seen strangers pull out a trapped person from under a rubble without asking to be paid. I have seen a crowd carry an accident victim to a hospital without requesting anything material. What is responsible for such altruistic acts if all there is is evil? These acts tell me humans are equally capable of good. However, agreeably, there is more evil and less good.

Now I have two questions for the Author concerning his hypothesis of a maximally evil, omnimalevolent universe.

1. Is the world a case study for testing his hypothesis?
2. If the world is his case study, then his hypothesis cannot be proved.

Reason:
1. There is both good and evil in this world according to the experiences of the vast majority of people. This is irreducible to an all evil world. So John, if you are reading this how did you prove your hypothesis to be true? Forgive me but was it through confirmation bias?

Advertisements

The Influence of Power on Moral Truth

According to Nietzsche there is no moral phenomena, only a moral interpretation of phenomena. This means the morality of an action or a deed is in the interpretation of that deed, making morality subjective. All things subjective are of, existing in or related to the mind. There is also the issue of motive which helps us to judge whether an act is moral or not.

For instance, we cannot say something is good or bad until we know the motive with which it’s done. If a politician builds a library or makes a cash donation to his community, we cannot say he is a good man until we know his motive, which is often definitely to seek another term of office, which means plowing his money back from state coffers or from bribes.

Kant, Locke, Hobbes and even Rousseau presented their ideas about morality as if it were a direct product of reason or rationality. They implied that primitive societies which had not ‘mastered’ reasoning had no sense of morality at all but this is erroneous. Kant in particular attributed virtue to individual freewill and autonomy but our modern experience presents a different evidence. It is indeed true that with personal freedom and autonomy comes reasoning but morality does not necessarily follow through. We pride ourselves today for being in the age of reason but our moral curve keeps plunging downwards. My observation is that virtue is an attribute of nothing but the emotions in their proper frameworks and that the source of both virtue and vice is in our primitive days. Reason only comes in after the stage is set.

All good or evil deeds proceed from the heart and reason, though resulting in self awareness and personal security, does not necessarily prevent evil. Most people who commit moral crimes are aware of the evil nature of their deeds but they do it anyway. Reason for the most part is self serving and often fails the motive check which I mentioned earlier. For instance, people who give a part of their salary to the homeless and beggars have no apparent reason or motive at all for doing that. They simply were moved by their emotions.

There is another interesting twist to morality – which makes it somewhat undulating in nature. Consider this: A murderer is an immoral person but one who murders the murderer for the safety of the community is deemed moral. It follows that the murderer’s murderer’s murderer is also deemed immoral and it goes on and on switching back and forth. We can think of it as an equation attempting psychological equilibrium, which is something inbuilt in us.

The biggest problem in morality so far is the influence of power or authority. Nietzsche goes on to say that whatever interpretations exist or persist is a function of authority and not truth. One will notice that Pilate’s question to the Jew: ‘What is truth?’ lends credence to this statement. To Pilate, truth is what the Roman empire says it is, so he wanted to know the deferring truth which the Jew was purported to have taught his disciples. In practical life, one will have noticed that the vast majority of people will readily accept truth only and if only it is backed by authority. Sometimes during a court trial, witnesses freeze or crumple in the witness box or fail to appear altogether because the truth which they witnessed will offend authority.

And now a question: Though they all claim to be doing it for peaceful purposes, do you think there is morality or moral truth or ethical merit in so called nuclear programmes? To what extent should a nation go in protecting itself or its interests?

Go Where They Need You (2)

If you build houses

Go where there is homelessness.

If you are a healer

Go where there is illness.

If you can teach

Go where there is ignorance.

If you can preach

Go where there is immorality.

If you can lead

Go where there is indiscipline.

If you can sing

Go where there is despair.

If you are rich

Go where people are weak.

If you build bridges

Go where the rivers are.

If you write

Go where there is no truth.

 

(a repost from 2013)

Greed that Glows

They all want pieces of silver and gold,

Forgetting that,

 

Where ever there’s money,

There’s competition,

 

Where there is competition,

There is tension,

 

Where there is tension,

There is hyper-tension,

 

Where there is hypertension,

There is usually stroke,

 

And Stroke means you are halfway dead.

Money makes a lot of difference.

 

But at the critical moment of life,

Only your good deeds can save you.