Good and Evil

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In the course of his service on the front, he had seen enough artillery attacks to recognise in their invariable aftermath a kind of Golgotha. To imagine that it might have done so was to cling to the values of a slave. To be free was to be great; and to be great was to be terrible.

It was not the Bible which had brought Dix to this conviction. Alongside him in his dugout he had a second book. So stirred was he by its philosophy that in , while still an art student in Dresden, he had made a life-size plaster bust of its author. Not just his first sculpture, it had also been his first work to be bought by a gallery. Do we not smell the divine putrefaction? God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. Nietzsche had written them back in the parable of a madman who one bright morning lit a lantern and ran to the market-place, where no one among his listeners would believe his news that God had bled to death beneath their knives.

The son of a Lutheran pastor, his background had been one of pious provincialism. Precocious and brilliant, he had obtained a professorship at the age of 24; but then, only a decade later, had resigned it to become a shabbily genteel bum. Setting the seal on the sense of a squandered career, he had suffered a mental breakdown. For the last 11 years of his life, he had been confined to a succession of clinics. Few, when he died in , had read the books written in an escalating frenzy of production.

Posthumously his fame had grown with startling rapidity. Condemned by many as the most dangerous thinker who had ever lived, there were others who hailed him as a prophet. There were many who considered him both. No one had dared to gaze so unblinkingly at what the murder of its god might mean for a civilisation. Socialists, communists, democrats: all were equally deluded. It was not from reason that their doctrine of human dignity derived, but rather from the very faith which they believed themselves — in their conceit — to have banished. Proclamations of rights were nothing but flotsam and jetsam left behind by the retreating tide of Christianity: bleached and stranded relics.

God was dead — but in the great cave that once had been Christendom his shadow still fell. For centuries, perhaps, it would linger. Christianity had reigned for two millennia.

Good and evil

It could not easily be banished. Its myths would long endure. And yet they were no less myths, for all that, because they now wore the show of the secular. Nietzsche did not mean this as a compliment. It was not just as frauds that he despised those who clung to Christian morality, even as their knives were dripping with the blood of God; he loathed them as well for believing in it.

Metaphysics special: Where do good and evil come from? | New Scientist

Concern for the lowly, far from serving the cause of justice, was a form of poison. Nietzsche had penetrated to the heart of everything that was most shocking about the Christian faith. Like St Paul, Nietzsche knew it to be a scandal.

Unlike Paul, he found it repellent. The spectacle of Christ being tortured to death had served the powerful as bait. It had persuaded them — the strong and the healthy, the beautiful and the brave, the powerful and the self-assured — that it was their natural inferiors, the hungry and the humble, who deserved to inherit the earth. Yet Christianity, by taking the side of everything ill-constituted, weak and feeble, had made humanity sick. Its ideals of compassion and equality before God were bred, not of love, but of hatred: a hatred of the deepest and most sublime order, one which had transformed the very character of morality, a hatred the like of which had never before been seen on earth.

The weak had conquered the strong; the slaves had vanquished their masters. Not conquered — only sucked dry! Covert revengefulness, petty envy become master! He admired the Greeks, not despite, but because of their cruelty. So scornful was he of any notion of ancient Greece as a land of sunny rationalism that large numbers of students, by the end of his tenure as a professor, had been shocked into abandoning his classes.

That Nietzsche himself was a short-sighted invalid prone to violent migraines had done nothing to inhibit his admiration for the aristocracies of antiquity and their heedlessness towards the sick and the weak. A society focused on the feeble enfeebled itself. This is what had made Christianity such a malevolent bloodsucker. If it was the taming of the Romans that Nietzsche mourned, then he regretted as well how they had battened onto other nations. Nietzsche, whose contempt for the Germans was exceeded only by his scorn for the English, was so little an enthusiast for nationalism that he had renounced his Prussian citizenship when he was only 24 and died stateless.

Yet, for all that, he had always lamented the fate of his forebears. The goal of this project is not to create entertainment for Western Christians. It is a tool that missionaries will use to teach the Bible chronologically to those who know little or nothing about God. Click here to learn more I had dropped off 13 copies of Good and Evil about 2 months ago. He tells me that they have been so popular there are not enough to go around.

And we are sharing it to introduce the Gospel of Jesus Christ in an easy way to everybody in my country. Good and Evil Comic Book Bible. Over pages illustrated in comic book format showing the Bible stories chronologically. What Is Good and Evil? How It Began Michael and Debi Pearl are the visionaries behind this illustrated graphic novel Bible storybook and Michael is the author. In common parlance, evil is 'something' that occurs in experience that ought not to be.

In Mormonism , mortal life is viewed as a test of faith, where one's choices are central to the Plan of Salvation. Evil is that which keeps one from discovering the nature of God. It is believed that one must choose not to be evil to return to God. Christian Science believes that evil arises from a misunderstanding of the goodness of nature, which is understood as being inherently perfect if viewed from the correct spiritual perspective.

Misunderstanding God's reality leads to incorrect choices, which are termed evil. This has led to the rejection of any separate power being the source of evil, or of God as being the source of evil; instead, the appearance of evil is the result of a mistaken concept of good. Christian Scientists argue that even the most evil person does not pursue evil for its own sake, but from the mistaken viewpoint that he or she will achieve some kind of good thereby.

There is no concept of absolute evil in Islam , as a fundamental universal principle that is independent from and equal with good in a dualistic sense. Within Islam, it is considered essential to believe that all comes from Allah , whether it is perceived as good or bad by individuals; and things that are perceived as evil or bad are either natural events natural disasters or illnesses or caused by humanity's free will to disobey Allah's orders.

According to the Ahmadiyya understanding of Islam, evil does not have a positive existence in itself and is merely the lack of good, just as darkness is the result of lack of light. In Judaism , no individual can be defined as categorically, absolutely "good" or "evil. God gave the Children of Israel the Torah as a guide to overcome evil. A common theme of medieval Jewish philosophy is that people who do good deeds will be rewarded in olam haba. Judaism has two conflicting attitudes toward the existence of evil.

In one interpretation, evil is not real, it is per se not part of God's creation, but comes into existence through man's bad actions. In the other interpretation, evil was created by God since God created everything and to suggest otherwise would be to engage in dualism , and is therefore antithetical to the core Jewish belief in monotheism. The primal duality in Buddhism is between suffering and enlightenment, so the good vs.

One may infer however from the general teachings of the Buddha that the catalogued causes of suffering are what correspond in this belief system to 'evil'. Practically this can refer to 1 the three selfish emotions—desire, hate and delusion; and 2 to their expression in physical and verbal actions. See ten unvirtuous actions in Buddhism.

Specifically, evil means whatever harms or obstructs the causes for happiness in this life, a better rebirth, liberation from samsara, and the true and complete enlightenment of a buddha samyaksambodhi. Killing is evil, lying is evil, slandering is evil, abuse is evil, gossip is evil: envy is evil, hatred is evil, to cling to false doctrine is evil; all these things are evil. And what is the root of evil? Desire is the root of evil, illusion is the root of evil. In Hinduism the concept of Dharma or righteousness clearly divides the world into good and evil, and clearly explains that wars have to be waged sometimes to establish and protect Dharma, this war is called Dharmayuddha.

This division of good and evil is of major importance in both the Hindu epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata. However, the main emphasis in Hinduism is on bad action, rather than bad people. The Hindu holy text, the Bhagavad Gita , speaks of the balance of good and evil. When this balance goes off, divine incarnations come to help to restore this balance. In adherence to the core principle of spiritual evolution, the Sikh idea of evil changes depending on one's position on the path to liberation. At the beginning stages of spiritual growth, good and evil may seem neatly separated. However, once one's spirit evolves to the point where it sees most clearly, the idea of evil vanishes and the truth is revealed.

In his writings Guru Arjan explains that, because God is the source of all things, what we believe to be evil must too come from God. And because God is ultimately a source of absolute good, nothing truly evil can originate from God. Nevertheless, Sikhism, like many other religions, does incorporate a list of "vices" from which suffering, corruption, and abject negativity arise.

These are known as the Five Thieves , called such due to their propensity to cloud the mind and lead one astray from the prosecution of righteous action. One who gives in to the temptations of the Five Thieves is known as " Manmukh ", or someone who lives selfishly and without virtue. Inversely, the " Gurmukh , who thrive in their reverence toward divine knowledge, rise above vice via the practice of the high virtues of Sikhism.

These are: [32]. In the originally Persian religion of Zoroastrianism , the world is a battle ground between the god Ahura Mazda also called Ormazd and the malignant spirit Angra Mainyu also called Ahriman. The final resolution of the struggle between good and evil was supposed to occur on a day of Judgement , in which all beings that have lived will be led across a bridge of fire, and those who are evil will be cast down forever.

In Afghan belief, angels and saints are beings sent to help us achieve the path towards goodness. It is possible to treat the essential theories of value by the use of a philosophical and academic approach. In properly analyzing theories of value, everyday beliefs are not only carefully catalogued and described , but also rigorously analyzed and judged. There are at least two basic ways of presenting a theory of value, based on two different kinds of questions:. The two questions are subtly different. One may answer the first question by researching the world by use of social science, and examining the preferences that people assert.

However, one may answer the second question by use of reasoning, introspection, prescription, and generalization. The former kind of method of analysis is called " descriptive ", because it attempts to describe what people actually view as good or evil; while the latter is called " normative ", because it tries to actively prohibit evils and cherish goods. These descriptive and normative approaches can be complementary.

For example, tracking the decline of the popularity of slavery across cultures is the work of descriptive ethics , while advising that slavery be avoided is normative.


Meta-ethics is the study of the fundamental questions concerning the nature and origins of the good and the evil, including inquiry into the nature of good and evil, as well as the meaning of evaluative language. In this respect, meta-ethics is not necessarily tied to investigations into how others see the good, or of asserting what is good.

A satisfying formulation of goodness is valuable because it might allow one to construct a good life or society by reliable processes of deduction, elaboration, or prioritization. One could answer the ancient question, "How should we then live? It has long been thought that this question can best be answered by examining what it is that necessarily makes a thing valuable, or in what the source of value consists. One attempt to define goodness describes it as a property of the world with Platonic idealism.

According to this claim, to talk about the good is to talk about something real that exists in the object itself, independent of the perception of it. Plato advocated this view, in his expression that there is such a thing as an eternal realm of forms or ideas, and that the greatest of the ideas and the essence of being was goodness, or The good.

The good was defined by many ancient Greeks and other ancient philosophers as a perfect and eternal idea, or blueprint. The good is the right relation between all that exists, and this exists in the mind of the Divine, or some heavenly realm. The good is the harmony of a just political community, love, friendship, the ordered human soul of virtues , and the right relation to the Divine and to Nature.

The characters in Plato's dialogues mention the many virtues of a philosopher, or a lover of wisdom. A theist is a person who believes that the Supreme Being exists or gods exist monotheism or polytheism. A theist may, therefore, claim that the universe has a purpose and value according to the will of such creator s that lies partially beyond human understanding. For instance, Thomas Aquinas —a proponent of this view—believed he had proven the existence of God , and the right relations that humans ought to have to the divine first cause.

Monotheists might also hope for infinite universal love. Such hope is often translated as " faith ", and wisdom itself is largely defined within some religious doctrines as a knowledge and understanding of innate goodness. The concepts of innocence , spiritual purity , and salvation are likewise related to a concept of being in, or returning to, a state of goodness —one that, according to various teachings of " enlightenment ", approaches a state of holiness or Godliness.

Aristotle believed that virtues consisted of realization of potentials unique to humanity, such as the use of reason. This type of view, called perfectionism , has been recently defended in modern form by Thomas Hurka. An entirely different form of perfectionism has arisen in response to rapid technological change.


Some techno-optimists , especially transhumanists , avow a form of perfectionism in which the capacity to determine good and trade off fundamental values, is expressed not by humans but by software, genetic engineering of humans, artificial intelligence. Skeptics assert that rather than perfect goodness, it would be only the appearance of perfect goodness, reinforced by persuasion technology and probably brute force of violent technological escalation , which would cause people to accept such rulers or rules authored by them.

Welfarist theories of value say things that are good are such because of their positive effects on human well-being. It is difficult to figure out where an immaterial trait such as "goodness" could reside in the world. A counterproposal is to locate values inside people. Some philosophers go so far as to say that if some state of affairs does not tend to arouse a desirable subjective state in self-aware beings, then it cannot be good. Most philosophers that think goods have to create desirable mental states also say that goods are experiences of self-aware beings.

These philosophers often distinguish the experience, which they call an intrinsic good, from the things that seem to cause the experience, which they call "inherent" goods.

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Some theories describe no higher collective value than that of maximizing pleasure for individual s. Some even define goodness and intrinsic value as the experience of pleasure, and bad as the experience of pain. This view is called hedonism , a monistic theory of value. It has two main varieties: simple, and Epicurean. Simple hedonism is the view that physical pleasure is the ultimate good. However, the ancient philosopher Epicurus used the word 'pleasure' in a more general sense that encompassed a range of states from bliss to contentment to relief.

Contrary to popular caricature, he valued pleasures of the mind to bodily pleasures, and advocated moderation as the surest path to happiness.

Jeremy Bentham's book The Principles of Morals and Legislation prioritized goods by considering pleasure, pain and consequences. This theory had a wide effect on public affairs, up to and including the present day. A similar system was later named Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill.

Good and Evil

More broadly, utilitarian theories are examples of Consequentialism. All utilitarian theories are based upon the maxim of utility , which states that good is whatever provides the greatest happiness for the greatest number. It follows from this principle that what brings happiness to the greatest number of people, is good. A benefit of tracing good to pleasure and pain is that both are easily understandable, both in oneself and to an extent in others.

For the hedonist, the explanation for helping behaviour may come in the form of empathy —the ability of a being to "feel" another's pain. People tend to value the lives of gorillas more than those of mosquitoes because the gorilla lives and feels, making it easier to empathize with them.

This idea is carried forward in the ethical relationship view and has given rise to the animal rights movement and parts of the peace movement. The impact of sympathy on human behaviour is compatible with Enlightenment views, including David Hume 's stances that the idea of a self with unique identity is illusory, and that morality ultimately comes down to sympathy and fellow feeling for others, or the exercise of approval underlying moral judgments. A view adopted by James Griffin attempts to find a subjective alternative to hedonism as an intrinsic value.

He argues that the satisfaction of one's informed desires constitutes well-being, whether or not these desires actually bring the agent happiness. Moreover, these preferences must be life-relevant, that is, contribute to the success of a person's life overall. Desire satisfaction may occur without the agent's awareness of the satisfaction of the desire. For example, if a man wishes for his legal will to be enacted after his death, and it is, then his desire has been satisfied even though he will never experience or know of it.

Meher Baba proposed that it is not the satisfaction of desires that motivates the agent but rather "a desire to be free from the limitation of all desires. Those experiences and actions which increase the fetters of desire are bad, and those experiences and actions which tend to emancipate the mind from limiting desires are good.

Selfishness, which in the beginning is the father of evil tendencies, becomes through good deeds the hero of its own defeat. When the evil tendencies are completely replaced by good tendencies, selfishness is transformed into selflessness, i. The idea that the ultimate good exists and is not orderable but is globally measurable is reflected in various ways in economic classical economics , green economics , welfare economics , gross national happiness and scientific positive psychology , the science of morality well-being measuring theories, all of which focus on various ways of assessing progress towards that goal, a so-called genuine progress indicator.

Modern economics thus reflects very ancient philosophy, but a calculation or quantitative or other process based on cardinality and statistics replaces the simple ordering of values. For example, in both economics and in folk wisdom, the value of something seems to rise so long as it is relatively scarce. However, if it becomes too scarce, it leads often to a conflict, and can reduce collective value.

In the classical political economy of Adam Smith and David Ricardo , and in its critique by Karl Marx , human labour is seen as the ultimate source of all new economic value. This is an objective theory of value see value theory , which attributes value to real production-costs, and ultimately expenditures of human labour-time see also law of value.

It contrasts with marginal utility theory, which argues that the value of labour depends on subjective preferences by consumers, which may however also be objectively studied. The economic value of labour may be assessed technically in terms of its use-value or utility or commercially in terms of its exchange-value , price or production cost see also labour power. But its value may also be socially assessed in terms of its contribution to the wealth and well-being of a society.

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In non-market societies, labour may be valued primarily in terms of skill, time, and output, as well as moral or social criteria and legal obligations. In market societies, labour is valued economically primarily through the labour market. The price of labour may then be set by supply and demand, by strike action or legislation, or by legal or professional entry-requirements into occupations. Conceptual metaphor theories argue against both subjective and objective conceptions of value and meaning, and focus on the relationships between body and other essential elements of human life.

In effect, conceptual metaphor theories treat ethics as an ontology problem and the issue of how to work-out values as a negotiation of these metaphors, not the application of some abstraction or a strict standoff between parties who have no way to understand each other's views. A fundamental question is whether there is a universal, transcendent definition of evil, or whether evil is determined by one's social or cultural background. Lewis , in The Abolition of Man , maintained that there are certain acts that are universally considered evil, such as rape and murder.

However, the numerous instances in which rape or murder is morally affected by social context call this into question. Up until the midth century, the United States —along with many other countries—practiced forms of slavery. As is often the case, those transgressing moral boundaries stood to profit from that exercise.

Arguably, slavery has always been the same and objectively evil, but men with a motivation to transgress will justify that action.

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