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  1. #21
    Epiphany
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    Quote Originally Posted by Salomé View Post
    It is simply that the individual is unable to perceive other people as beings with which to empathise (whereas he has no difficulty finding traits within animals with which to empathise). Probably because he sees himself as a victim (and feels he has this in common with animals that are preyed upon). There is no doubt that such people suffer from a kind of persecution complex which legitimises their actions (in their own heads). Most people are unable to empathise with those sentiments, but there are those who can.

    It is not uncommon for people (who are not considered psychopathic) to suspend empathy for certain groups of individuals and not others. In fact, this is probably more rule than exception.
    This accounts for pedophiles, rapists, misogynists, racists, homophobes, religious fanatics, all the way down to schoolyard bullies. In one sense, this is unsurprising. Our "empathy circuits" evolved in an environment of competition, where we might have a maximum of 150 people in our "in-group". Empathy was not extended beyond those limits, as a rule. It has always been alarmingly easy for humans to suspend their "natural" empathy for the suffering of other beings, especially when that suffering is in their own interests / for their own protection.
    Indeed, selective empathy seems to be at play here. What astonishes me is the extreme at both ends. A person who abstains from meat because of animal suffering, yet finds nothing in a helpless child to empathize with. His mother vented before about how much she hated him. I'm curious what behaviors led those feelings to fester, but her animosity toward him undoubtedly had an effect on his perceptions and interactions with others, in addition to autism.

    Quote Originally Posted by Salomé View Post
    Baron-Cohen defines evil as "zero degrees of empathy". I'd say zero degrees of empathy provides the environment in which evil can flourish, rather than being a definition of evil. (Which is perhaps the more important point than getting too hung up on definitions.)
    Very interesting video. A lack of empathy is fertile soil for abusive behavior.

    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    I can't access the video now, but agree with your comment. The OP is asking a question that has no definitive answer because it is too ill-formed.
    The OP asked two questions. Do you care to elaborate on how they do not conform to the rules of grammar or is your use of the word "ill-formed" rather ill-formed, itself?

  2. #22
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moniker View Post
    The OP asked two questions. Do you care to elaborate on how they do not conform to the rules of grammar or is your use of the word "ill-formed" rather ill-formed, itself?
    I meant what I wrote, but it is more correctly applied to the overall thread topic of explaining the pathology of evil. We might be able to understand internal mental contradictions, or even how mental disorders lead to violence, but we cannot expect this information to shed any light on evil if we cannot even agree what evil is.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  3. #23
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    Non Serviam

    I prefer my evil out in the open, tranparent for all to see, rather than hiding and dodging behind a pathology.

    So give me, any day, Satan, who declaimed, "I would rather rule in Hell than serve in Heaven".

    And it was our mate Satan who gave us our motto - "Non Serviam".

  4. #24
    Epiphany
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    I meant what I wrote, but it is more correctly applied to the overall thread topic of explaining the pathology of evil. We might be able to understand internal mental contradictions, or even how mental disorders lead to violence, but we cannot expect this information to shed any light on evil if we cannot even agree what evil is.
    It seems like you are suggesting that evil is so obscure that there is no point in discussing its possible manifestations. If it is a matter of semantics that you are concerned with then we can deal with the subject in a more specific context, such as "slaughtering innocent children," though few sensible people would argue that such criteria doesn't constitute "evil" as the word is defined in the english language.

  5. #25
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moniker View Post
    It seems like you are suggesting that evil is so obscure that there is no point in discussing its possible manifestations. If it is a matter of semantics that you are concerned with then we can deal with the subject in a more specific context, such as "slaughtering innocent children," though few sensible people would argue that such criteria doesn't constitute "evil" as the word is defined in the english language.
    Evil is not obscure, but it is highly subjective, just like love, beauty, and many other abstract human concepts. Killing innocent children might easily not fall within someone's definition of evil, if that definition requires the intent to do harm, and the perpetrator was acting with severe mental impairment. Yes, it is better to speak in terms of pointless violence, intentional harm, mental or moral contradictions, or mental pathologies. There are shades of gray here as well, but it is much easier to start off on the same page and at least be speaking about the same thing.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  6. #26
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    There are 2 classes of people:
    1. The Evil people - Those who are strong enough to hold power.
    2. The Weak Poeple - Those who are afraid of the darkness.

  7. #27
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    “I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.” ~Galileo
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  8. #28
    Wake, See, Sing, Dance Cellmold's Avatar
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    "...And that's what your holy men discuss, is it?" [asked Granny Weatherwax.]
    "Not usually. There is a very interesting debate raging at the moment on the nature of sin. for example." [answered Mightily Oats.]
    "And what do they think? Against it, are they?"
    "It's not as simple as that. It's not a black and white issue. There are so many shades of gray."
    "Nope."
    "Pardon?"
    "There's no grays, only white that's got grubby. I'm surprised you don't know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people like things. Including yourself. That's what sin is."
    "It's a lot more complicated than that--"
    "No. It ain't. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they're getting worried that they won't like the truth. People as things, that's where it starts."
    "Oh, I'm sure there are worse crimes--"
    "But they starts with thinking about people as things..."
    --from Carpe Jugulum, by Terry Pratchett.
    'One of (Lucas) Cranach's masterpieces, discussed by (Joseph) Koerner, is in it's self-referentiality the perfect expression of left-hemisphere emptiness and a precursor of post-modernism. There is no longer anything to point to beyond, nothing Other, so it points pointlessly to itself.' - Iain McGilChrist

    Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
    "Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
    Piglet was comforted by this.
    - A.A. Milne.

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