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Re: [The-Burnsville-Socrates-Cafe] 1/15/13 questions and discussion

From: Mert H.
Sent on: Sunday, January 20, 2013 5:08 PM
I will not be able to make it on 1/22.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE DROID

Jon Anderson <[address removed]> wrote:

1/15/13 questions and discussion

1-as a nation, should we seek help or self analyze first?
2-if wealth is acquired within the law by a person, is that person a good citizen?
3-to what extent, if any, does capitalism contain the seeds of its own destruction?
4-is fairness achievable and if not why do we strive for it?
5-didn't Thomas Edison have an easier job inventing the light bulb than did Steve Jobs' inventing computers?
6-is evil the opposite of good?


Is evil the opposite of good?

Jim: it's natural to say evil is the opposite of good. It's easy to assume those who disagree with us are evil. When we describe things that are good we talk about it having a positive effect somewhere. Good is a projection outward that's positive. So, what's evil? The 10 Commandments are a prescription against evil. I think it comes down to not doing damage to the individual. As a conservative I'm primarily about protecting individuals. Liberals are about creating fairness. Either pursuit can lead to harm done unintentionally.

Jon: what if there is no evil?

Jim: I use the word on purpose because of the lack of respect for the individual that I see now in our culture.

Mert: is the is a black and white issue?

Jim: at the end of time it ends up black and white. Today? no.

Andrew: is taxation evil?

Jim: in some ways. In France, they recently increased taxes to create a false fairness.

Andrew: isn't evil a finite term? Doesn't it slide on a scale?

Jim: I maintain income and estate tax are evil.

David:  the 10 Commandments are about those within a tribe, not the outsiders

Jim: I use the 10 Commandments as an example for one way we've defined evil.

Jeff: in order to be evil, is intent needed?

Jim: good question. There were a lot of good people in the Nazi military but their ideology, the ideas they fought for, were evil.

David: in WW I who was evil?

Jim: It was an outcome of the way the world was, not necessarily evil.

David: those countries were imperialistic. The deaths were of the common man. Each of the WW I monarchies described their opponents as evil.

Jim: world history and its governments has largely been tyrannical (= evil).

David: are we reliably capable of recognizing evil?

Jim: we aren't all manipulatable.

Andrew: I don't think I could disagree with Jim more. I understand about taking away from the individual. But even viewed through Christian philosophy isn't taxation a good sacrifice?

Jim: if I have 10 billion $ and decide to spend it on the public good that's a good sacrifice. When the government takes it against our will it's a bad sacrifice.

Andrew: our system is complicated and what you're talking about is so simplistic. To stop paying taxes is to opt out of enjoying the use of infrastructure. If one is a doctor and someone collapses in front of you, the extension of what Jim is saying is one ought not help that person. One is then putting themselves at risk. We don't know why they collapsed just as we don't know where our taxes are spent. Notions of that are too simplistic. I don't even like the word evil.

Jim: my wife hates the word evil too. Why is it suspect?

Andrew: it's superficial. People think it carries more weight. Those who use it think their opinions are correct

Jeff: aren't there some actions that are evil?

Andrew: for me it's always been tied back to a god or a religion and if I discount that religion, then there can't be evil, only bad and not bad.

Jim: as to my initial statement, what part of a good is not the opposite of evil? That's what I think is interesting. The opposite of good is apathy.

Dick: WW II had 5 major players. Which were good, which were evil, if any?

Jim: the answer to that is easy, I just find it hard to say why!

Dick: can someone be good and evil simultaneously or over the course of a lifetime?

Jim: if the Sandy Hook guy survived and really did change for the better, I'd still execute him.

David: why was Pearl Harbor evil?

Jim: Japan had already done so much harm.

David: when the British shelled the French in the Mediterranean (WW II?) was that evil?

Jim: war presents unfortunate choices that have to be made.

Jon: is war evil?

Jim: it's a choice

Mert: I recently watched the N. Korean propaganda film Dick emailed me. I found it very Uncomfortable, but not false. [this propaganda, we might assume, was very anti-West/America]

Jon: evil as a concept can only exist in a reality that includes Batman vs. the Joker or God vs. Satan. Early 20th century American/democratic propagandists considered their work important because they assumed the masses to be too stupid to survive/succeed within a democracy. In a sense that effort to control how we lived in a democracy was an effort to overcome inherent human evils (aka original sin). I am more inclined to think those efforts to control our thinking were what really endangered us.

Jim: pretend the word evil doesn't exist. What word do you use to describe to people in prison?

Jon: dysfunctional, wrong, destructive.

Jim: aren't there things that are so bad that only evil can describe it?

Jon: I see using the word evil as a way of avoiding complexity. If I decide something is evil I have decided not to try to understand its underpinnings, causes, reasons. Thinking in terms of evil guarantees the thing behind it will continue to exist, perhaps even get worse.

Jim: why is this word unacceptable?

Andrew: evil represents oversimplification and emotional control. Compartmentalization

Jim: someone is getting ready to kill me, do I care if he's human, not evil?

Richard: labeling words like evil put us on an our side/their side basis. Doesn't it seem more like a war term, rather than morality?

Jon: is our use of the word evil constructive outside war?

Richard: not really. Condemning something is consenting to that something being one's enemy. Who are we to judge?

Marla: can one use evil as a measurement, a tool?

Richard: it's off the scale. People also confuse good with legal.

Andrew: it's easy to say someone/thing is evil. It's ironic when they say it's beyond redemption yet those saying it belong to churches which teach us that no one is beyond redemption. So who are we to judge?

Jeff: I agree. When we use this word most often it harms rather than helps because it polarizes a conversation. However, in society as a whole labeling evil is helpful to have that boundary, that extreme limit. Consensus about what we think of as evil is helpful. We risk losing needed motivation to change without it.

Andrew: does "axis of evil" motivate?

Jeff: no.

Jon: does an example occur for what the word evil was good for motivating us?

Jeff: nazi Germany. 

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