My view: Evil is selfishness without concern for other people (which can include a feeling of just retribution -- hey, Hitler and his Nazis thought it was just for them to take their anger out on the world -- or self-aggrandizement at the expense of other people -- just look at the history of Europe from the fall of the Roman Empire to the Enlightenment).
Good, on the other hand, would start with tolerance and acceptance of others. On top of that, though, comes the motivation and seeing the benefit of helping other people, both dealing with a bad situation and for developing their character, and also that, as an individual, you need to dedicate some of your time and energy to developing your character, too.
That's probably a very classical Unitarian (Puritan) way of looking at the matter.
--The_Lex Tue Nov 11 14:16:38 2008
Oh yeah, a super good person would also understand how their actions and behavior affect the world systematically (or in the words of UUA principles, affect the interdependent web of existence. . .that's the wording, right).
--The_Lex Tue Nov 11 14:38:05 2008
Hmm. There may well be a moral imperative to work to try and understand the consequences of our actions... that's an intriguing point.
--Kirk Tue Nov 11 16:03:29 2008
Your mention 'moral imperative' makes me wonder if the whole 'consequences of actions' is addressed by Kant.
--The_Lex Tue Nov 11 17:27:50 2008
Not sure. I've only read summaries of Kant.
On the surface, though, I wonder how it deals with the idea of "specialization". In non-moral issues, I wouldn't want everyone to become a computer programmer like me, because other jobs are equlally or more important. Which is probably missing the point, but you could see someone parlaying the idea into justifying whatever they want (like, the world needs rich bastards to fund things and keep the economy moving, so it's ok if I have to hurt a few people to achieve my own rich bastard status)
--Kirk Wed Nov 12 10:47:52 2008
The last bit touches on tension between consequentionalist (utilitarian) and deontologist (Kantian and rights-based) moralities.
I guess I base my own morality on the primary goal of creating meaning for individuals and society while killing, hurting and denigration of individuals acts as a way of destroying meaning. I'm fairly deontological but feel that it has practical goals.
I think there is more creative ways to approach the generation of meaning and capital than becoming a rich bastard. Honestly, I think the concentration of capital into fewer individuals while there's many individuals hurt by being made poorer hurts society, and not necessarily in some criticism of capitalism type of way. I think the concentration of capital into fewer individuals creates inflation in a way that undermines the ideal balance of supply and demand and creates a corrupted market.
There's tons of money out there that "creates" demand, but not enough people have the money for the population to demand multiple units, so then demand gets "destroyed." So yeah, the rich bastard can invest in businesses but how long will those businesses thrive if there's not enough people that have money out there to purchase their product?
Those inventories need to move, and if the people who have to ability to purchase what they need/want have bought what they need/want, the inventory won't get bought. Sure, prices will go down to get rid of the product, but will the company still make a profit and provide the social benefits of having that profit? If not enough of the "common people" have the money to purchase something, then the economy of scale doesn't help anyone and most products become luxury consumer products. What happens when food becomes a luxury product? What happens when even department store products become luxury products? Etc. etc.
The premises and conclusions of my belief in this approach would take a lot of space to extrapolate, especially since I really don't have it completely thought out and systemized. All in all, though, I believe it's entirely possible to shoot down the justifications of the specialist willing to sacrifice the meaning of individuals and society on a systematic level.
Humans are social animals, and we make our meaning by interacting with each other and society. Our thoughts and knowledge are even determined by our social and cultural existence. Even the concept of individualism requires society, community and culture.
Henry Thoreau, while at Walden, borrowed most of his tools from friends. He even ate most of his meals with his mother or whenever friends offered to provide him with a meal. For his success at Walden, he required the help of other people.
--The_Lex Wed Nov 12 13:40:46 2008
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