Definitions of good and evil

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Definitions of good and evil

Post  Admin on Sun Mar 16, 2008 5:01 pm

Human Nature Or Just The Chemistry Of Our Brains?

The definitions of good and evil have meaning only in respect to actions or events that have direct or indirect effects on living objects. Therefore we have divided nature into two unequal parts, one which includes the whole universe of inanimate objects and a second which includes the tiny portion of objects that we know of as ‘living’.

By Bruce Kriger

Since the dawn of time philosophers and ordinary people have been speculating on human nature. Every succeeding generation approaches these issues with new arguments, because each new generation brings new ideas and speculations to allow a more thorough understanding of our laws, their morality, and their implications in society. For example, a well-known quotation by John Stuart Mill states,

“It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied, and if the fool and pig are of different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question. The other party to the comparison knows both sides.”

We can continue with a long list of similar dilemmas, like “it’s better to be honest and hungry rather than dishonest and full,” or “it is better to be a poor decent person rather than a rich crook.” But the problem is that it is obviously better to be a satisfied philosopher who can enjoy both sides of life, and it is better to be honest and full, rich and decent. It might be misleading that the categories mentioned above are self-exclusive.

Even though we understand the point that Mill was trying to make, that it is preferable to live a highly spiritual and intellectual life even though it may result in some discomfort or dissatisfaction, this belief is not necessarily an absolute certainty. Ethical truism and spiritual acceptance do not always mean discomfort and hardship. These virtues, along with being their own reward, bear the fruit of not only ethical pleasures but financial ones as well.

It is a very old, deceptive practice to argue that with great knowledge “[comes] great grief”, with all due respect to King Solomon, whose statement in Hebrew “yeda rav, tcar rav” (“great knowledge, great grief”) is a little bit outdated.

At the present time we know that our mood and the feeling of satisfaction are ultimately regulated by the chemistry of our brains. Most of the philosophers and great thinkers of the past experienced a lot of stress concerning their discoveries and thoughts that caused them to enter severe depressions. Fools and pigs obviously didn’t experience such pressures and therefore looked to be happier and more satisfied.

We cannot agree that the nature of knowledge itself bears on its shoulders some ancient curse of unhappiness and dissatisfaction. Modern methods of treating depression show that knowledge itself is not the cause of depression; the cause of depression is the stress that appears as a result of intensive thinking and attempts to analyze complicated concepts. With proper pharmaceutical correction these undesirable effects can be eliminated, allowing the pleasure of that knowledge to be even more intense and gratifying than simple earthly pleasures. Furthermore, the satisfaction that philosophy can give to human beings results in a more profound happiness than anything that ignorance or an illusory happiness could offer as the result of a “piggish and foolish” existence.

Let’s examine human nature in respect to the concepts discussed above. Everything that we can observe, realize, and sense is as subjective as the definitions of good and evil. These definitions are the only facts that can be established regarding these two terms with a sufficient degree of certainty that they have opposite meanings. Usually we can analyze good and evil in pairs, where we deal with two sides while the same action is conceived of as good for one side and bad for the other. It is seldom that there is only one side that perceives a certain action or event as good while at the same time there is no other side that would perceive the same action as bad. When one side is benefiting from some action or event it is usually done by damaging, destroying, or causing some sort of negative effect on the other side. We cannot establish a universal definition of good and bad, but in the initial pages of this work we are trying at least to determine something certain in regards to this matter.

We have to make a very important remark at the outset that usually discussions like this one may have disturbing consequences, because jumping to the conclusion that there is no good without evil in certain circumstances may justify evil actions by arguing that there is no action that could be done without causing some direct or collateral damage to a certain party. In order to prevent making such a conclusion we need to determine what sort of objects qualify to be considered with respect to the terms good and evil. For example: we cannot argue that enjoying the sunshine should be perceived as an evil action towards the sun because the sun is losing energy that is used by us and therefore approaching the end of its existence in the universe. This example demonstrates that we cannot operate with the terms good and evil when we deal with inanimate objects, which is true unless the consequences of these actions could affect other living objects. For example, our impact on the global climate could not be perceived as evil towards the planet or its atmosphere because both are inanimate objects, but it could result in negative effects on other living objects that could become the victims of such impact. So we have to state that the definitions of good and evil have meaning only in respect to actions or events that have direct or indirect effects on living objects. Therefore we have divided nature into two unequal parts, one which includes the whole universe of inanimate objects and a second which includes the tiny portion of objects that we know of as ‘living’.

Bruce Kriger is a prolific scientific writer whose work has been published in a number of languages. He is a member of several associations including: the Canadian Science Writers' Association, the Canadian Philosophical Association, the International Academy of Science, the World Future Society, the National Space Society and the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and Planetary Society. In 1996 he has formed his own organization called the Kriger Research Group. Through this organization Kriger has been instrumental in bringing together other research organizations and training institutions for different scientific projects including clinical research and drug development.

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