You know, I’ve never really cared about the problem of “evil”. It’s never kept me up at night. It’s never really shook my philosophical convictions. It’s just something that sort of permeates all of reality. Asking me how I feel about evil is like asking me how I feel about time.
It sucks, but what can I do about it?
The reason I bring this subject up is because the question keeps getting asked. When I’ve been doing research for the last several post, the “problem of evil” seems to be a lingering issue. I got rid of the problem by stating something to the effect of “there is no good and evil, only KNOWLEDGE of good and evil.”
And I understand that that might sound crazy. Honestly, I don’t even remember what I meant by it. If I had to venture a guess, it probably means that good and evil don’t exist without a human mind. They aren’t things that are found “out there”, but are transposed onto the world by human rationality. So we don’t have knowledge of the “things-in-themselves”, we just have knowledge of the things we perceive.
Make sense? No? Oh well.
Basically evil can’t possibly exist without a human to say that it exists. And this is a position that most philosophically and scientifically minded people can agree upon. BUT, even though evil doesn’t actually EXIST, meaning that it’s not a material or demonic force at play, it is still something that we recognize and have to reckon with.
If you put a bunch of atheist philosophers and scientists into a room and ask them if they thought the Holocaust was an act of evil, all of them would probably emphatically say YES. So even though evil itself isn’t a part of a material reality, IT IS something EVERYONE recognizes. Exact specifications and definitions of evil vary among individuals and cultures, but there is a direct sense of “good and bad”, “right and wrong”, and “good and evil.”
So even though evil isn’t a part of physical existence, everybody (in their own way) recognizes it. Therefore we can’t just “wave it off” because it’s only a mental construction. Or, in other words, it’s a ‘real’ phenomenon. And the dichotomy between “good and bad” is something that we act on.
Yet even at that, it’s hard to demarcate where bad end and evil beings.
But, to me, the biggest problem with evil is that most of us think we’re incapable of it. We make a major assumption in thinking WE’RE good, and everything that acts against us is bad.
I like to think that I hate politics. I like to think that I can rise above that nonsense and see the goodness in both sides. Yet I found out that I’m not immune to any of it. I wasted a good part of my day getting into Twitter arguments.
Because I wanted to WIN
And that’s the real mechanism behind our American political discourse. Nay….ALL of political discourse.
I’ve mentioned before how, at least with the left-right spectrum in the US, politics make little sense. Issues that should be LIBERAL are CONSERVATIVE and vice-versa. Take the issue with guns. In my reasoning, liberals should be supportive of gun-rights because, in the name of freedom, safety cannot be guaranteed. In fact, an appeal to safety over freedom sounds pretty damn RIGHT-WING to me. But it doesn’t work that way. So American politics is just a clusterfuck of ideas. If you agree with ONE issue, you have to accept all the other issues that are linked to it. So nothing ends up making sense.
And because Americans see politics as a sporting event, we become DIE-HARD fans of one team. And OUR TEAM is always right and can do no wrong, and it’s all the information outlets that support our team… THAT’S where we get our news. So instead of making decisions and supporting ideas that will help ALL Americans, we say ‘fuck the other side’ because they aren’t a part of OUR TEAM.
But what does this have to do with evil?
Evil on a grand scale is conducted because separating ourselves into camps ends up causing dehumanization of the other side. Those on the Left see those on the Right as supporting racism and suppression of the poor, while those on the Right see the Left as…I dunno…hating the rich? I guess that goes to show you which side I’M on. But even I have the ability of dehumanizing those that disagree with me. So being in denial about our own abilities of evil, contributes to the problem of ongoing evil.
It’s often stated in my philosophical code to only concern oneself with the present. But I look at the state of modern politics and I wonder: “what the fuck are people going to think of this shit 100 years from now?”. Could people really not come to a consensus on climate change, gun control, abortion, etc?
And in our age of the internet, where it’s so easy to not have to interact with people on the other side, is it only going to become EASIER to dehumanize others. There’s so many platforms that only conform to one side of the political argument, that it should become a concern for the future of American political discourse. Hell, we can’t even tell what is ACTUAL news anymore.
Right-Wing pundit Ben Shapiro’s most used quote is: “facts don’t care about your feelings”. And that’s true. But what Ben fails to realize is…facts don’t care about HIS feelings either. Everyone has their own biased perception of a thing or event, and the reality is that it favors no one. Being chained to the left or the right requires a degree of self-denial. My most used quote is: “No one has a monopoly on truth.”
So undo this ‘problem of evil’, we must first realize that we are not always right. In fact, most of the time: WE ARE WRONG.