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Are Some People Born Evil?

Society & Culture  (tags: Hitler )

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At the age of 84, America's grand man of letters Norman Mailer has lost nothing of his appetite for controversy. His latest novel, The Castle In The Forest, tackles the childhood of Adolf Hitler.

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Elaine R (26)
Tuesday February 6, 2007, 6:19 pm
I say and resounding, YES!! Another gold star for you, Moondancer.

cully d (151)
Tuesday February 6, 2007, 6:26 pm
I guess there couldn't be a better example of a rhetorical question could there Elaine:-)

Mary E (46)
Tuesday February 6, 2007, 6:31 pm
if people are born good, then why not evil?

cully d (151)
Tuesday February 6, 2007, 7:17 pm
Interesting question Mary, at first it seemed a truism but then I started to wonder what evil really is. We always tend to define it in religious terms which is maybe why we have a 'shared sense' of what it means, but there is another perspective i.e. philospohocal/ethical. I took most of what comes next from Wiki but I think it's quite interesting:-)

Plato's definition as one based merely on situation and based on ethics or values. Plato's criticism is thus itself criticised as an attack on ethics itself, suggesting that philosophy can have meaning and value without ethics and the honor associated with ethical belief. Benedict de Spinoza was even more radical, according to him the concept of good and evil is merely one of personal inclinations: "Such things as please us, we denominate good, those which displease us, evil."

In some belief systems, evil consists of a willful deviation from a code of laws (written or unwritten) or moral standard, usually ascribed to a deity. According to this definition, people who, for example, reject a certain belief or engage in practices against this code are engaged in evil acts. According to other belief systems, evil consists of intentionally doing harm, and so-called "victimless crimes" should not be considered evil or immoral. It is important to note, however, that followers of the first definition believe that these "victimless crimes" do indeed have victims, usually the moral soul of the person committing the act.

The duality of 'good versus Evil' is expressed, in some form or another, by many cultures. Those who believe in the duality theory of Evil believe that evil cannot exist without good, nor good without evil, as they are both objective states and opposite ends of the same scale.

A similar term, malice (from the Latin malus meaning "bad"), describes the deliberate human intent to harm and be harmful. "Evil", by contrast, tends to represent a more elemental concept; a disembodied spirit that is natural and yet abominable. Whereas "malice" is specifically concerned with the act itself, "evil" is the cause of a malicious act.

Religious ideas...

In the Hebrew Scriptures, Evil is related to the concept of sin "sin" translated in Hebrew is chata which means "missing the mark" (a term from archery). Evil is defined in Thomistic metaphysics as the absence of a "good" which could and should be present; it is a lack of something that should be present. The Evil of gluttony, for example, is marked by the results of obesity. The goodness that is missing in the glutton is self-discipline and temperance. The results of Evil are usually experienced as Evil over the long term but may be experienced as short term "goods". The cultivation of the good requires the long view.

In Judaism and Christianity, Evil comes from disobedience to God. Judaism stresses obedience to the God's laws as written in the Torah (see also Tanakh) and the laws and rituals laid down in the Mishnah and the Talmud. In Christianity, some sects stress obedience to God's law. Other sects emphasize Christ's statement that love of God and love of your fellow man is the whole of the law. Still others emphasize the idea that man is irremediably Evil, and in need of forgiveness.

In some Abrahamic faiths, Evil is personified as Satan, a challenger of the law or will of God. Satan is defined in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek writings collectively as the devil, the adversary, false accuser, slanderer, the counterfeit, a liar, a murderer, one with no truth, the serpent, the Evil one, the tempter, and a prowling lion seeking someone to devour. These faiths also teach that spirits or demons may possess humans or animals and tempt them to do Evil. It is argued by those who follow the documentary hypothesis and higher Biblical criticism that this concept of Satan developed over time. Hebrew "haShaitan" seems originally to have been the accuser, a title given to the prosecuting attorney at the court of the divine Yahweh. He still has this character in the Book of Job. It is argued that the larger role of Satan and his identification with Lucifer, later associated with the snake in the garden of Eden, occurred during the period of the Babylonian captivity and subsequent exposure to Iranian beliefs.[citation needed]

Some forms of Christianity, as well as Judaism, do not personify Evil in Satan; these Christian sects instead consider the human heart to be inherently bent toward deceit, although human beings are responsible for their choices, whereas in Judaism, there is no prejudice in one's becoming good or Evil at time of birth. In Judaism, Satan is viewed as one who tests us for God rather than one who works against God, and Evil, as in the Christian denominations above, is a matter of choice.

Judaism and Christianity both focus on individual repentance of sin, but in Judaism, repentance requires the forgiveness of the injured party, and thus is rather difficult in some cases, such as murder, but for other crimes, if one is sincerely asked for forgiveness on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement by someone who has truly repented, it is a religious obligation to forgive. In Christianity, the nature of repentance is highly dependent on sect. Jewish beliefs and Christian teachings say each person will give an account of all their actions, including faith and obedience.

Some cultures or philosophies believe that Evil can arise without meaning or reason (in neo-Platonic philosophy this is called absurd Evil). Christianity in general does not adhere to this belief, but the prophet Isaiah implied that God is ultimately responsible for everything including Evil (Isa.45:7 "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create Evil: I the LORD do all these things.")

In the Bible, the story of Job is a bold example of how Evil exists and seems at times to be victorious, although according to Christian beliefs, all have sinned and fallen short of the perfection of God, and the price of missing the mark of perfection (sin) is death. The crucifixion of Jesus was the sacrifice of a sinless, superior, and good being for the sins of mankind; thus, salvation from death occurs in understanding this idea and making the Christ Lord over one's life.

For the French philosopher Michel Henry, God is the invisible Life that never stops to generate us and to give us to ourselves in its pathetic self-revelation. God is Love because Love itself in an infinite love is Life. By consequence life is good in itself. The Evil corresponds to all what denies or attacks life, it finds its origin in death which is the negation of life. This death is an inner and spiritual death which is the separation with God, and which consists simply in not loving, in living selfishly as if God didn't exist, as if he was not our Father of us all and as if we were not all its beloved Sons, as if we were not all Brothers generated by a same Life. The Evil peaks in the violence of hatred that is at the origin of all the crimes, of all the wars and of all the genocides. But the Evil is also the common origin of all those blind processes and of all those false abstractions that lead so many people to misery and exclusion.

Mary E (46)
Tuesday February 6, 2007, 7:21 pm
Moondancer, that is an amazing reponse!!!
: )
And one I need to re read!

cully d (151)
Tuesday February 6, 2007, 7:37 pm I know Mary hum - you aren't the only one - it does kind of complicate things a little, but it's an interesting conundrum:-)

Leila Rajagopalan (0)
Wednesday February 7, 2007, 3:45 pm
The hindus believe that itis ones fate or karma to end up evil or good, to have a good or miserable life on this earth. I think its a choice one makes, even under any circumstances, the choice to make or do things the right and good way or take the wrong path and end up evil. But we always have an opportunity to repent for
our wrong doing and go back to the right track. Or one can't help being evil due to a tiny gene in the body?

Wolfweeps Pommawolf (251)
Wednesday February 7, 2007, 5:41 pm
IMHO, its all about Nature vs Nuture. A young child can be exposed to the most horrible istances in their lives, and it's all about how we teach them empathy. If we can't teach our children that its wrong to harm others for any reason...what do they learn? They learn that its acceptable. The earliest years are the most important. The human personalities are pretty much developed by the age of five. The rights and wrongs are taught at an early age...and it does matter...very much indeed.
There is a book that is written by Trudy Chase. It's her life story of her horrible childhood that forever change her world. The book is "When Rabbit Howls". If any of you know about wildlie, and especialy rabbits, you know what I'm talikng about..which is why she titled her book that way.
The book is a painful read, and very hard to get through. But in the end you understand the true face of evil. Yes, a person can survive it, but at a tremendous cost. You either live it, or it kills you.
Trudy lives as far as I know, but at a great and final cost.

Alice Kruta (74)
Thursday February 8, 2007, 8:24 am
I believe that the bad is tied directly to the ego. Yes, people who have no faith except in themselves. I too have had a horrible upbringing, a father who would beat us (siblings), call us dumb squaws, constantly break our things...he tourtured us mentally and physically. Even the day he died, he bastardized us in his will! And yet I forgave him, the lessons I learned from my childhood and my first brutal marriage was how not to treat people.

Ego is a powerful thing, so is enabling. Anyway not to ramble anymore....alice

Past Member (0)
Friday February 9, 2007, 7:38 pm
dumb squaws?!!

Wolfweeps Pommawolf (251)
Friday February 16, 2007, 5:19 pm
I know in my heart that people are not born evil. I have seen many people come from terrible circumstances, abuse in every shape, form and fashion. An individual can either accept that abuse over time becasue no one has taught them another way to escape from it. The brain is an amazing thing, and what it can adapt to is simply stunning. Every one's coping mechanism is different and unique, but what it comes down to in the end is if you remove a person from the abused, and take that person show a different way to cope or overcome that pain and show them a better way to remove themselves from that abuse, there is a chance of stopping the continued cycle of abuse in the future. I believe that not stopping that pain and tragedy is evil itself. And that is an evil that continues on and on and on.....and never ends.
Evil is apathy as well. To do nothing, to stand silently and witness that evil in apathy is in itself evil. To feel nothing for someones elses pain is evil. In my humble opinion there are far to many people that stand on the sidelines of life in apathy. They have no desire to stop someones elses pain, and therefore participate in that evil.
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