Tag Archives | Evil

Believing That Life Is Fair Might Make You a Terrible Person

Bryon Lippincott (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Bryon Lippincott (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Oliver Burkeman writes at the Guardian:

If you’ve been following the news recently, you know that human beings are terrible and everything is appalling. Yet the sheer range of ways we find to sabotage our efforts to make the world a better place continues to astonish. Did you know, for example, that last week’s commemorations of the liberation of Auschwitz may have marginally increased the prevalence of antisemitism in the modern world, despite being partly intended as a warning against its consequences? Or that reading about the eye-popping state of economic inequality could make you less likely to support politicians who want to do something about it?

These are among numerous unsettling implications of the “just-world hypothesis”, a psychological bias explored in a new essay by Nicholas Hune-Brown at Hazlitt. The world, obviously, is a manifestly unjust place: people are always meeting fates they didn’t deserve, or not receiving rewards they did deserve for hard work or virtuous behaviour.

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The Armenian Genocide, and the Supreme Evil of Human Stubbornness

The Armenian quarter of Adana left pillaged and destroyed after the massacres in Adana in 1909.

The Armenian quarter of Adana left pillaged and destroyed after the massacres in Adana in 1909.

Last Friday was the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, an event which, if you’re a Turkish government official, you’re much more likely to refer to with some nauseating euphemism like “the 1915 hostilities with Armenia” or “the period of mutual Turkish-Armenian suffering.” But no matter what name you put on it, it was an event where 1 million or more people died, nearly all of them Armenian, as a direct result of deliberate planning by the government ruling Turkey at the time.

I’m not Armenian, nor have I even been to Armenia. But in my life so far, I’ve come across my fair share of Armenians. My freshman year roommate in college was a native-born Armenian. His family had left the country and set up camp, as many others before them had, in Glendale.… Read the rest

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God is Evil, Man is Free

Portrait_of_Pierre_Joseph_Proudhon_1865By Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, via the Anarchist Library:

My friends beg me, in the interest of our common ideas, and to remove any pretext for slander, to make my opinion known on the divinity and Providence, and at the same time to explain certain passages from the System of [Economic] Contradictions, that the reactionary tartuffes have for a year constantly exploited against socialism with simple and credulous souls.

I surrender to their solicitations. I will even say that if I have for so long let the Constitutionnel and its consorts make of me a Vanini even more ferocious that the original, attacking at once God and the Devil, — the family and property, — I had my reasons for that. First I wanted to lead certain schools, up to then considered enemies, to confess themselves their perfect resemblance; I wanted, in a word, it to be demonstrated to the eyes of all that doctrinaire and Jesuit, it is all one.

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Frank Furedi: 21st Century Heresy Hunting

SetWidth592-Frank-Furedi

Frank Furedi is a commentator, author and sociologist whose recent work explores the nature of authority and mistrust. He is a leading voice in discussions of fear, risk and the unknown.

Contemporary society is more comfortable with values in the plural than with a value that everyone can embrace. Instead of “the truth”, society prefers to lecture about truths. The celebration of non-judgmentalism and difference can be interpreted as a self-conscious attempt to avoid having to make moral judgments. On most issues we are free to pick and choose our beliefs and affiliations. Educators continually inform university students – especially in the social sciences and humanities – that there is no such thing as a wrong or right answer. Instead of an explicit moral code, Western society seeks to police behaviour through a diffuse rhetoric – such as appropriate and inappropriate behaviour – that avoids confronting fundamental existential questions.

Paradoxically, the absence of moral clarity encourages an illiberal climate of intolerant behaviour.… Read the rest

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Young Goodman Brown

r reeve (CC BY-ND 2.0)

r reeve (CC BY-ND 2.0)

“Young Goodman Brown” By Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), 1835

YOUNG GOODMAN BROWN came forth at sunset, into the street of Salem village, but put his head back, after crossing the threshold, to exchange a parting kiss with his young wife. And Faith, as the wife was aptly named, thrust her own pretty head into the street, letting the wind play with the pink ribbons of her cap, while she called to Goodman Brown.

“Dearest heart,” whispered she, softly and rather sadly, when her lips were close to his ear, “pr’y thee, put off your journey until sunrise, and sleep in your own bed to-night. A lone woman is troubled with such dreams and such thoughts, that she’s afeard of herself, sometimes. Pray, tarry with me this night, dear husband, of all nights in the year!”

“My love and my Faith,” replied young Goodman Brown, “of all nights in the year, this one night must I tarry away from thee.… Read the rest

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When Douchebags Go Down: EA Koetting and Marc Driscoll Both Get Their Comeuppance

koettingSome of you might recall that back in June I tossed up a post mocking the Occult practice of self-proclaimed “Living God” EA Koetting. At the time I knew very little about the dude, I just stumbled on some people laughing at him on Facebook. Because of that, I watched his videos and found them unintentionally hilarious and simultaneously irresponsible. Seriously, look at some of the more famous left hand path practitioners and how things have turned out for them in the long term. Crowley became a heroin addict, got really ugly and blew a shitton of his own money on a vanity PR trial he lost, dying mostly penniless. Kenneth Anger alienated the biggest rock bands on the planet and hasn’t made anything worth a damn in how many decades now? Meanwhile Alan Moore and Grant Morrison (who do creepily hate each other for strange reasons) are both mega rich and continue to do brilliant work with zero sign of slowing down anytime soon.… Read the rest

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Why the Price of Theism is Normative Skepticism

Image from page 318 of "With the world's people : an account of the ethnic origin, primitive estate, early migrations, social evolution, and present conditions and promise of the principal families of men : together with a preliminary inquiry on the time. Via Flickr

Image from page 318 of “With the world’s people : an account of the ethnic origin, primitive estate, early migrations, social evolution, and present conditions and promise of the principal families of men : together with a preliminary inquiry on the time. Via Flickr

This post was originally published on Philosophical Disquisitions.

This is the third edition of the Philosophical Disquisitions Journal Club. The goal of the journal club is to encourage people to read, reflect upon, and debate some of the latest works in philosophy. The club focuses on work being done in the philosophy of religion (broadly defined). This month we’re looking at the following paper:

Sharon Street “If everything happens for a reason, then we don’t know what reasons are: why the price of theism is normative skepticism” in Bergman and Kain (eds) Challenges to Religious and Moral Belief: Disagreement and Evolution (Oxford: OUP, forthcoming)

Longtime readers of this blog will know that I’m a big fan of Sharon Street’s work in metaethics.… Read the rest

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German Neurologist Claims ‘Dark Patch’ In The Brain Is Responsible For Evil

Perhaps reserve some skepticism, but the claim is that future serial killers and dictators could be pinpointed in childhood via brain scan of the front lower forehead area. The Daily Mail reports:

A German neurologist claims to have found the area of the brain where evil lurks in killers and rapists. One of Germany’s best-known brain specialists, Bremen scientist Dr. Gerhard Roth says the ‘evil patch’ lies in the brain’s central lobe and shows up as a dark mass on X-rays. He discovered it when investigating violent convicted offenders over the years for German government studies.

‘We showed these people short films and measured their brain waves,’ he said. ‘Whenever there were brutal scenes the subjects showed no emotions. In the areas of the brain where we create compassion and sorrow, nothing happened.’ The dark mass at the front of the brain, he says, appears in all scans of people with records for criminal violence.

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Psychedelic Sin: The Illusion of Morality in an Amoral Universe

Picture: Boticelli (PD)

In this world, we see varying levels of what we traditionally call good and evil. We have ways to measure them with our religious notions, but if we see the world through a materialists eyes, what is good or evil? Some may say that good and evil are behaviors that are infringements on the survival of the group, or plan in which the participant is a part of; practically saying, evil is an acting out of animalistic nature that hurts the herd and nothing more. This does not work in all cases though, for there are things people do to themselves that are harmful and therefore seen as bad. The religious crowd sees morality as having come from God: a set of guidelines fraught with consequence and reward if obeyed or rejected, but why are certain things deemed sin? There are things that only seem to hurt us, so how can those things fit with the materialist view?… Read the rest

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