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Good and Evil; Commoner's Views. - Oldavid - 04-04-2015

Mssrs Michael and Melkite have goaded me into an informal discussion (argument, ding dong fight) about the nature of good and evil.

Since I can still remember something of what those poor Nuns were trying to get into my pre-adolescent skull, I'll kick off by saying that "Evil is the lack of some due good".

An argument about that will be interesting I bet!


Re: Good and Evil; Commoner's Views. - Dirigible - 04-04-2015

If the lack of an undue good is not evil, what is it? And what is it to possess an undue good?


Re: Good and Evil; Commoner's Views. - Melkite - 04-04-2015

I agree that evil is the lack of good.  I'm not sure what you mean by due and undue goods.  If something is good, then its due- or undueness would be illogical.  If something is evil, then it cannot be good.  If something would be good for someone else, but not for me, then it would not be an undue good for me, but something evil, or at least a distraction.  If something is inherently good, then it cannot be inherently bad to possess it, unless you must dispossess someone else of it against their will.


Re: Good and Evil; Commoner's Views. - J Michael - 04-04-2015

Uh oh...I can see I'm already in over my head! :Hmm:

I missed out on an education from nuns and their rulers, came through school with knuckles intact.  But somewhere along the way I learned that, similar to Mr. Old's definition of good and evil, evil is the perversion of good and that good came first. 

Now, I'm not sure what to make of "the nature" of good and evil, however, or just exactly what that means.  Perhaps someone could enlighten me about that??


Re: Good and Evil; Commoner's Views. - Oldavid - 04-04-2015

Righto. Due good vs. "undue" good.

A due good is a good that is rightly present as part of the nature of a thing.

For example, an intellect (to perceive truth) is due in a rational being but not in a plant. The lack of an intellect in a plant is not an evil because it doesn't belong there.

However, the perversion (which amounts to the partial destruction of) an intellect in a rational being is an evil because it is taking away something that necessarily belongs to the nature of the thing.

Similarly w.r.t. the will; the purpose of which is to desire (moral) good and thus happiness. If it is perverted to desire a lesser good in place of a greater then that is an evil.

I suppose we are mostly interested in the moral and metaphysical rather than the merely physical.


Re: Good and Evil; Commoner's Views. - Melkite - 04-05-2015

(04-04-2015, 09:54 PM)Oldavid Wrote: For example, an intellect (to perceive truth) is due in a rational being but not in a plant. The lack of an intellect in a plant is not an evil because it doesn't belong there.

So would it be evil if a plant were to have an intellect?  If so, I have to disagree.

Quote:However, the perversion (which amounts to the partial destruction of) an intellect in a rational being is an evil because it is taking away something that necessarily belongs to the nature of the thing.

Isn't the capacity to love and be loved something that necessarily belongs to human nature?  So then, asking homosexuals to refrain from even romantic intimacy because it is a near occasion of sin would be an evil demand (I initially had written request, but then realized the Church isn't merely requesting it) from the Church.  Isn't procreation something that necessarily belongs to human nature?  So then, asking ordained clergy to either remain celibate or become celibate upon ordination is an evil demand from the Church.

Quote:Similarly w.r.t. the will; the purpose of which is to desire (moral) good and thus happiness. If it is perverted to desire a lesser good in place of a greater then that is an evil.

What makes one happy is relative to that person.  If a person is happier with a lesser good than with a greater good, insofar as it only affects them, how then could that be evil?  While I agree that it is possible to will that which is evil, the purpose of having a will is so that we can choose between two or more equally, or unequally, good things.  If there was only one morally acceptable choice, to either choose good over evil, or to choose greater good over lesser good, in each and every potential decision to be made, it would be just as unnecessary for God to have given us a will as it would have been for him to give plants an intellect.


Re: Good and Evil; Commoner's Views. - Clare Brigid - 04-05-2015

Edit.


Re: Good and Evil; Commoner's Views. - Oldavid - 04-05-2015

(04-05-2015, 08:57 PM)Melkite Wrote:
(04-04-2015, 09:54 PM)Oldavid Wrote: For example, an intellect (to perceive truth) is due in a rational being but not in a plant. The lack of an intellect in a plant is not an evil because it doesn't belong there.

So would it be evil if a plant were to have an intellect?  If so, I have to disagree.
That's not what I said or implied. If a plant had an intellect it would be something other than a plant.

Quote:However, the perversion (which amounts to the partial destruction of) an intellect in a rational being is an evil because it is taking away something that necessarily belongs to the nature of the thing.

Quote: Isn't the capacity to love and be loved something that necessarily belongs to human nature?  So then, asking homosexuals to refrain from even romantic intimacy because it is a near occasion of sin would be an evil demand (I initially had written request, but then realized the Church isn't merely requesting it) from the Church.  Isn't procreation something that necessarily belongs to human nature?  So then, asking ordained clergy to either remain celibate or become celibate upon ordination is an evil demand from the Church.
Intellect is a capacity to know truth. Whether you want it or not is a matter of will.

Quote:Similarly w.r.t. the will; the purpose of which is to desire (moral) good and thus happiness. If it is perverted to desire a lesser good in place of a greater then that is an evil.

[quote]  The ultimate good for which we are all created is "to know, love and serve God here on Earth and be happy with Him forever in Heaven".  An ordinary thief chooses the temporary pleasure of his "acquired" goods over the eternal moral good of honesty.


Re: Good and Evil; Commoner's Views. - Renatus Frater - 04-05-2015

I don't mean to intrude in the discussion, but I think the Pseudo-Dionysius treatment of the evil ontologically (as you guys are discussing) is a tad enlightening.
Basically, he says that absolutely non-existing things are neither evil nor good because they are wholly nothing. And evil is not in being, because being is good. The Good is above-being and above non-being, but the evil is in neither. He says evil is non-being as in opposition to being (not merely non-being by a mere passive lacking of being, so to speak; much less the non-being as a way of saying that which is above being).

Quote:And I, by no means, speak in reference to the just and unjust man, and the temperate and intemperate man; but also, long before the difference between the just man and his opposite is made manifest externally, in the very soul itself the vices stand altogether apart from the virtues, and the passions rebel against the reason; and from this we must grant some evil contrary to the Good. For the Good is not contrary to Itself, but as the product from one Source and one Cause, It rejoices in fellowship and unity and friendship. Nor yet is the lesser good opposed to the greater, for neither is the less heat or cold opposed to the greater. The Evil then is in things existing, and is existing, and is opposed, and is in opposition to, the Good (…)

I think this pretty much solves the issue of lesser goods.

I don't know how popular this is in Christian tradition (though Pseudo-Dionysius was very influential), because I haven't read much on the issue besides this text and other introductory level treatments.




Re: Good and Evil; Commoner's Views. - TerraMariana - 04-05-2015

Well said and even better explained, Oldavid, fellow Australian (the "righto" gave you away to a certain extent). Are you perhaps a disciple of Woodbury and Waters?