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  1. #1
    Senior Member Little_Sticks's Avatar
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    Default Good and Evil, War and history

    I was watching the history channel with someone where the theme was about history of war in mankind. They looked different tactics and reasons for why certain people waged war.

    But he had come to the conclusion that that was the essence of evil, when we succumb to war. When he put it that way, and in light of the archetype of good and evil, I kind of thought it made sense to see good and evil this way. Well maybe this seems obvious to some of you, and maybe I'm kind of an idiot, but this never really was to me. It seems as if anything can be explained fully, but perhaps nothing really can.

    Anyway, I want to hear how you think good and evil relates to war and human history.

    P.S. please don't ask me to give you definitions or other such things. No logic anyone conceives is ever 100% true or accurate. Just say what you think...who gives a shit if someone is going to show you how it is or could be wrong. And I know it's a broad topic; anyone is free to bring up anything relating to it if they want. Derailment is encouraged as long as it is related. ;P

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    Quote Originally Posted by Little_Sticks View Post
    But he had come to the conclusion that that was the essence of evil, when we succumb to war.
    What did he mean by that?

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    The nature of war has very little to do with good or evil. Individual conflicts can be framed around those ideas, yes, but the reason humans are, now and forever, drawn to war is because war is at once the most dramatic and the most horrifying thing in the human experience. War serves the human need for a higher purpose, a higher drama, and it is why for so many years, people believed war was so glorious. The war itself is a living hell for all those involved; atrocities are committed wantonly, and the darkest side of humanity is on full display. Afterward, however, the true winners of the conflict feel as though they have accomplished something big (as in, all the blood, sweat, and tears were finally worth it). It's no mistake that in history books, and in fictional stories, wars are the biggest, most important, and most dramatic moments; it's an appeal to a basic human attraction to the dramatic, and the need for higher purpose.

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    This is why I don't take the history channel seriously anymore (well ok, the abundance of reality shows in place of actual historical content is why I don't take it seriously, but I degress); it should not be up to a history program to establish the bias viewpoint that war = evil. Good and evil are concepts of which no one group of people have ever agreed on; what some consider good others consider evil and vice versa. The nature of good and evil varies depending on a slew of various factors and has been debated numerous times in the field of philosophy. So really, the equalizing war as a product of evil isn't necessarily true in an objective sense.

    Now while I see good and evil as outdated concepts born out of slave morality, I also think that war is simply a basic part of life, as is all forms of conflict and violence. The world is not made out of gum drops and ice cream; when circumstances call for it, waging war can be essential to the preservation of ones homeland, or an attempt to defeat an enemy who would wish to destroy you. Granted that doesn't mean we should go out and fight war for it's own sake, but rather we should wage war properly and carefully. Sun Tzu's book The Art of War demonstrates how to achieve this goal with minimal destruction. Funny enough, a few years back I actually watched a rather informative show on the history channel that documented facts about Sun Tzu and how is philosophy of war compared to the civil wars and WW2.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Savage Idealist View Post
    I see good and evil as outdated concepts born out of slave morality, I also think that war is simply a basic part of life, as is all forms of conflict and violence. The world is not made out of gum drops and ice cream; when circumstances call for it, waging war can be essential to the preservation of ones homeland, or an attempt to defeat an enemy who would wish to destroy you. Granted that doesn't mean we should go out and fight war for it's own sake, but rather we should wage war properly and carefully.
    All true. Of course, slave morality is preferable to nihilism, the ultimate expression of weakness and death; this is why a moral code which is not limited by these concepts is the only way to progress. As for the necessity of war, that is a natural fact of society: as long as there are two forces who are dedicated to their conflicting goals, there will be war. As long as humans are attracted to the dramatic, and seek a higher purpose, war will exist. Calling it good or evil is framing its nature in a limiting concept; war simply is. It plays its role in human history, like all things.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Guess View Post
    All true. Of course, slave morality is preferable to nihilism, the ultimate expression of weakness and death; this is why a moral code which is not limited by these concepts is the only way to progress. As for the necessity of war, that is a natural fact of society: as long as there are two forces who are dedicated to their conflicting goals, there will be war. As long as humans are attracted to the dramatic, and seek a higher purpose, war will exist. Calling it good or evil is framing its nature in a limiting concept; war simply is. It plays its role in human history, like all things.
    True that

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    Senior Member Little_Sticks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Not_Me View Post
    What did he mean by that?
    I think to him he saw war as pointless, as somewhat barbaric, although amazing and incredible at the same time. He sees it as a part of humanity, but also a dark part; and to him darkness equates to evil. I couldn't really disagree in that sense. It's very dark. Just to add food for thought, he's either Ti+Se or Se+Ti by Jungian functions, probably ESTP. He's really not the stereotype at all, more like Halla.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Guess View Post
    Calling it good or evil is framing its nature in a limiting concept; war simply is. It plays its role in human history, like all things.
    I really enjoyed reading what you wrote. I'm just singling this out to make a comment because I'm not sure I can agree. Cause the conscious choices we make in how we come to understand things have just as much affect in the resulting flow of how things end up. I fear it might be limiting to believe such a thing in light of this.

    Good and evil...from my point of view I would say it's basically the divide between what causes us to suffer and what makes us thrive and feel fulfilled. The result can even be a part of emotions...closing ourselves off, becoming evil and dead inside to the point of sociopathy and psychopathy. I suppose we could even say using emotions to thrive at another's expense would be the reverse and just as evil.

    And then war...I don't know, I guess that's why I wanted to hear what other people thought. I once had the idea that war was a slow progression, that over time, it lead society forward to restructure and hopefully avoid the conflicts that lead to war in the first place. Now I'm wondering if that wasn't exactly right, that maybe it's about understanding this divide of good and evil, and through that perhaps it's possible to get a good understanding how to truly avoid evil. I can't resign myself to there being no such thing, it seems evil in itself to think so.

    Because war...it just seems to make so much sense to see evil in it. What does a war really accomplish? Yeah, it can give people purpose, but it also torments life to do so. Don't we all want to avoid torment and pain? I would have thought that is the prime goal of a human being starting from birth, to assimilate into this world for the purpose of enjoying, using our ego and intellect for mastering it well to do so. This makes war seem counter-productive and evil to me. I find it extremely easy now to see war as the antithesis of intelligence. Such life torments itself.

    Feel free to disagree, of course.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Little_Sticks View Post
    I think to him he saw war as pointless, as somewhat barbaric, although amazing and incredible at the same time. He sees it as a part of humanity, but also a dark part; and to him darkness equates to evil. I couldn't really disagree in that sense. It's very dark. Just to add food for thought, he's either Ti+Se or Se+Ti by Jungian functions, probably ESTP. He's really not the stereotype at all, more like Halla.



    I really enjoyed reading what you wrote. I'm just singling this out to make a comment because I'm not sure I can agree. Cause the conscious choices we make in how we come to understand things have just as much affect in the resulting flow of how things end up. I fear it might be limiting to believe such a thing in light of this.

    Good and evil...from my point of view I would say it's basically the divide between what causes us to suffer and what makes us thrive and feel fulfilled. The result can even be a part of emotions...closing ourselves off, becoming evil and dead inside to the point of sociopathy and psychopathy. I suppose we could even say using emotions to thrive at another's expense would be the reverse and just as evil.

    And then war...I don't know, I guess that's why I wanted to hear what other people thought. I once had the idea that war was a slow progression, that over time, it lead society forward to restructure and hopefully avoid the conflicts that lead to war in the first place. Now I'm wondering if that wasn't exactly right, that maybe it's about understanding this divide of good and evil, and through that perhaps it's possible to get a good understanding how to truly avoid evil. I can't resign myself to there being no such thing, it seems evil in itself to think so.

    Because war...it just seems to make so much sense to see evil in it. What does a war really accomplish? Yeah, it can give people purpose, but it also torments life to do so. Don't we all want to avoid torment and pain? I would have thought that is the prime goal of a human being starting from birth, to assimilate into this world for the purpose of enjoying, using our ego and intellect for mastering it well to do so. This makes war seem counter-productive and evil to me. I find it extremely easy now to see war as the antithesis of intelligence. Such life torments itself.

    Feel free to disagree, of course.
    All humans want to avoid torment and pain on a rational level; however, this is not what humans are ultimately drawn toward in a metaphysical sense. The reason why good and evil have remained as a popular idea for so long is simply because it is framed in a manner which gives humans a higher purpose; in other words, good and evil are such widespread ideals because they appeal to the human need to be a part of a higher drama, while appealing to rationality as well. However, it is clear that human morality goes far deeper than this; if good and evil were indeed the highest moral law, then demagogues would hold far less power, war would be much, much less of a draw to civilized people, and ironically, religious fundamentalism would not exist in its current form (consider how most fundamentalist movements will frame their cause as being part of a larger cosmic struggle, or how many secular ideologies have done the exact same thing to gain followers), since rationality and the appeal to simple good vs. evil would be enough. Religion would still exist, but it would be far more ritualistic and overly altruistic in its history and practice. Your quote about the presenter's perspective on war is direct evidence of this; since he is influenced by the idea of good and evil, he of course will place the idea of war in that moral framework, and yet, you could tell that he, too, was drawn to the drama and higher purpose that war, for better or worse, will bring. It is an inalienable part of human nature to be drawn to it; no matter how much your rational mind will remind you of the suffering, bloodshed, and costliness that war entails, your heart will remain enticed and drawn into the inexorable pull of the high drama of the situation.

    You are right to assume that evil does not exist; or rather you are right to assume that "evil" as it is defined among most people is not the most undesirable state of morality or being. The most undesirable state of being, of course, is death; the most undesirable moral state, therefore, is nihilism, which is moral death. Having an erroneous or outdated set of moral values is preferable to moral death; in the same way, evil is preferable to death. Humanity, adhering to this law, would prefer to fill a vacuum of purpose with something which causes "evil" to occur; in this case, war. Because war offers such purpose and drama (which is the highest moral law), it will always be irresistible when fought in a way that supplies purpose and drama to the ones fighting it. Look at the difference between how World War II was portrayed, and how Vietnam was portrayed. In World War II, the Allies and the Axis were part of an enormous struggle for the future of the world; on the Allied side, each country involved had a personal reason to join the war; they were in real danger of destruction by these marauding conquerors who had decided to oppose themselves and their chosen way of life. On the German side, Adolf Hitler had made his people believe that they were part of a desperate war against a Jewish conspiracy to topple their place as the master race; every conquest that he made was touted as a glorious victory in the name of this higher drama that he had created. And on both sides, everyone fought tooth and nail to win; and in the end, there was jubilation from the Allies, all of their enemies had finally been crushed, the mad dictatorships had crumbled, and the world was never the same after. Highly dramatic; it almost sounds fictional, doesn't it? In Vietnam, on the other hand, while the soldiers fought their hardest, the American position wasn't dramatic at all; it was more like an obligation than anything. The American public had no investment in this war, and yet, they were being forced to die in the jungles of Vietnam; understandably, they weren't too happy about that. The Vietcong, on the other hand, were fighting for the freedom of their country; the desperation and drama of their situation, versus the routine obligation that the US felt meant that, of course, the Americans would soon lose interest in the war, and vacate the country. The same thing is happening in the Middle East; arguably, at the beginning of the war in Afghanistan, there was much drama surrounding the situation (9/11 and all that), but as time dragged on, it has become routine, and the American public is now questioning whether or not they need to be there. The purpose of the war has now been replaced with nihilistic purposelessness, and since humans are naturally opposed to nihilism in all its forms, both wars will end unless they are given new dramatic purpose.

    The bottom line is, what humans call "evil", is actually an aversion to nihilism (psychopaths are the ultimate nihilists, as evidenced by their patterns and behaviour). When "evil" is given a dramatic purpose, such as war, humans are naturally drawn to it, even though their rational minds are telling them that it is causing suffering, and their hearts are at the same time, repulsed by the inherent nihilism of the action.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Guess View Post
    All humans want to avoid torment and pain on a rational level; however, this is not what humans are ultimately drawn toward in a metaphysical sense. The reason why good and evil have remained as a popular idea for so long is simply because it is framed in a manner which gives humans a higher purpose; in other words, good and evil are such widespread ideals because they appeal to the human need to be a part of a higher drama, while appealing to rationality as well. However, it is clear that human morality goes far deeper than this; if good and evil were indeed the highest moral law, then demagogues would hold far less power, war would be much, much less of a draw to civilized people, and ironically, religious fundamentalism would not exist in its current form (consider how most fundamentalist movements will frame their cause as being part of a larger cosmic struggle, or how many secular ideologies have done the exact same thing to gain followers), since rationality and the appeal to simple good vs. evil would be enough. Religion would still exist, but it would be far more ritualistic and overly altruistic in its history and practice. Your quote about the presenter's perspective on war is direct evidence of this; since he is influenced by the idea of good and evil, he of course will place the idea of war in that moral framework, and yet, you could tell that he, too, was drawn to the drama and higher purpose that war, for better or worse, will bring. It is an inalienable part of human nature to be drawn to it; no matter how much your rational mind will remind you of the suffering, bloodshed, and costliness that war entails, your heart will remain enticed and drawn into the inexorable pull of the high drama of the situation.

    You are right to assume that evil does not exist; or rather you are right to assume that "evil" as it is defined among most people is not the most undesirable state of morality or being. The most undesirable state of being, of course, is death; the most undesirable moral state, therefore, is nihilism, which is moral death. Having an erroneous or outdated set of moral values is preferable to moral death; in the same way, evil is preferable to death. Humanity, adhering to this law, would prefer to fill a vacuum of purpose with something which causes "evil" to occur; in this case, war. Because war offers such purpose and drama (which is the highest moral law), it will always be irresistible when fought in a way that supplies purpose and drama to the ones fighting it. Look at the difference between how World War II was portrayed, and how Vietnam was portrayed. In World War II, the Allies and the Axis were part of an enormous struggle for the future of the world; on the Allied side, each country involved had a personal reason to join the war; they were in real danger of destruction by these marauding conquerors who had decided to oppose themselves and their chosen way of life. On the German side, Adolf Hitler had made his people believe that they were part of a desperate war against a Jewish conspiracy to topple their place as the master race; every conquest that he made was touted as a glorious victory in the name of this higher drama that he had created. And on both sides, everyone fought tooth and nail to win; and in the end, there was jubilation from the Allies, all of their enemies had finally been crushed, the mad dictatorships had crumbled, and the world was never the same after. Highly dramatic; it almost sounds fictional, doesn't it? In Vietnam, on the other hand, while the soldiers fought their hardest, the American position wasn't dramatic at all; it was more like an obligation than anything. The American public had no investment in this war, and yet, they were being forced to die in the jungles of Vietnam; understandably, they weren't too happy about that. The Vietcong, on the other hand, were fighting for the freedom of their country; the desperation and drama of their situation, versus the routine obligation that the US felt meant that, of course, the Americans would soon lose interest in the war, and vacate the country. The same thing is happening in the Middle East; arguably, at the beginning of the war in Afghanistan, there was much drama surrounding the situation (9/11 and all that), but as time dragged on, it has become routine, and the American public is now questioning whether or not they need to be there. The purpose of the war has now been replaced with nihilistic purposelessness, and since humans are naturally opposed to nihilism in all its forms, both wars will end unless they are given new dramatic purpose.

    The bottom line is, what humans call "evil", is actually an aversion to nihilism (psychopaths are the ultimate nihilists, as evidenced by their patterns and behaviour). When "evil" is given a dramatic purpose, such as war, humans are naturally drawn to it, even though their rational minds are telling them that it is causing suffering, and their hearts are at the same time, repulsed by the inherent nihilism of the action.
    Someone read the Art of War. Just kidding.

    I am actually inclined to agree. Even in terms of religion, The Bible states that men who are evil will be punished, good rewarded, and those who are neither hot nor cold are actually spewed from God's mouth.

    I am on the fence though. What if a person sees the polarity as part of a human oversight, and sees the very act of mass hysteria as repulsive. Are they too nihilistic and psychotic? Or is there a further subdivision between the neutral nihilistic and its opposite state of mind?

    Did that make any sense?


    Edit: Actually I suppose that would be the idealistic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatGirl View Post
    I am on the fence though. What if a person sees the polarity as part of a human oversight, and sees the very act of mass hysteria as repulsive. Are they too nihilistic and psychotic? Or is there a further subdivision between the neutral nihilistic and its opposite state of mind?

    Did that make any sense?


    Edit: Actually I suppose that would be the idealistic.
    Not nihilistic: for them to actually be nihilists, they would have to reject the intrinsic moral value in their argument; they wouldn't have a moral reaction (in this case, repulsion), they would merely be unaffected by it. No, this would be a case of the moral system which they had been conditioned to believe in superimposing itself on their inner draw toward the dramatic. It has less to do with the fact that they find no draw in it at all, but more to do with the fact that they have been blinded by erroneous values to see things very strongly through a distorted lens. The rejection of the polarity is, ironically, a sign that they have been affected; the dramatic has drawn them in and affected their moral sense, but the lens of the superimposed moral system has led to a rejection.

    It might also simply be a highly developed rejection of the nihilism which they might see before them; the drama of war, ironically, has a high tendency to breed nihilism in those directly affected by it. Because they are often too close to the action to see the drama, they must be concern themselves with the practical problems and hellishness which they face; the more meaningless suffering they are subjected to, or that they see, the closer to nihilism many may become pushed. Death in all its forms, is nihilistic; naturally life, being opposed to nihilism, is opposed to death. Meaningless suffering is nihilistic in nature, since it carries no meaning; this is why people are repulsed by this, as well, and not as much as they are to suffering that serves a dramatic purpose. A true nihilist, by contrast, would see nothing beyond their own animal impulses or satisfaction (this is a hallmark trait of the psychopath, by the way, that they are really only creatures of the id; they have no superego, no higher moral impulse to speak of); the dramatic would only affect them as far as it concerned their basic desires or instincts.

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