Ontological Good Pt. One

19Oct08

Maybe this reflects on my eastern philosophical biases but I’m not a great fan of the idea of ontological good. I don’t think things can be inherently good in and of themselves – because they are just themselves. Is any creature in nature inherently good or evil? No.. they are just what they are. Scorpions, roaches,  tigers, wolves, ants, stinging wasps, and anything else you can imagine simply exist to survive in whatever manner they can. Humans are special in that they are able to make many more choices than most creatures can.  To give an example of where I’m going with this; we can say that Dick Cheney makes evil choices but he is not, in himself, evil.  Yes, the same goes concerning Hitler, and anyone else who you may consider evil, depending on your value system.

However, it may shock you to know that I do think evil and good exists. They are qualities of action that cultivate or ruin people or societies. We rightly condemn Hitler for his actions preceeding and during the second world war, just as we rightly praise Franklin D. Roosevelt for his actions (most of them anyway) following the depression. These people made choices that culminated in setting people against each other or helping them to work together in common cause.

There is a definite moral Good. There are right ways and wrong ways to do things. I just happen to think that the Good is whatever it is that cultivates and helps people live together. It’s more like a goal and much less like a noun.

More on this later! I’m still thinking it through, after all.

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4 Responses to “Ontological Good Pt. One”

  1. 1 reyhn

    That one is deep. I’ll try and explain this lightly. I may make a post about this later on my blog too when I start talking philo. Is it weird for someone like me – who generally hates most people – to call themselves a philosopher? The contradiction amuses me.

    Firstly, I break down the argument that good and evil are opposites. An opposite can be described as the complete absence of the first object in such that nothing in the second object were to resemble the first. EX: You are so far away from being RIGHT of a person that you must be to the LEFT. Being to the left of someone can therefore be the same as NOT being to the right.

    Now, for this to work you must agree that Good and Evil are opposites. Darkness is the absence of Light. Being Right is the absence of being Wrong. So by this theory, for something to be Good, it must be void of Evil.

    This is why I refuse to refer to Good or Evil as a noun, as its own stand-alone subject. Without a perfectly running universe, no one can be wholly absent of one side. Pardon the cliche, but everyone is filled with good and evil. They are not inherently bent toward one because that would suggest that you are born without Evil or without Good. That would be saying that Hitler was born as some evil, demon baby that never laughed, or loved, or liked anything as a child.

    Now choices are no easier in my book. A choice designed to be good can have a bad outcome. Our choice as a country to revolt against Britain, for example. Was that good or evil? It was for freedom. We can argue that it was a choice made for a morally good cause. But it killed thousands of people, including innocent colonists and led to the spread of a growing country that would ultimately steal the homeland of Native American tribes. We can say that our moral choice to go to war against Britain led to the Civil War, led to us become strong, led to us feeling like the police of the world and eventually led to the bombing of Hiroshima and the war in Iraq.

    Call it extreme.

    Look at the outcomes of what we called a good choice. Does that make us evil? No. Is our choice therefore evil? Probably not.

    My theory is that good and evil are not a gradient either – the idea that the more Good you are, the less Evil. That would go back to my theory that they are not opposites. Gradient Theory still assumes that if you are on the very, very end of the spectrum, you are nothing like the other side.

    Think of Good and Evil as a cup of clear water. For every time someone does something Good, a red drop of food dye is added. For everything Bad, a… green drop. (I was going to say blue but something tells me someone would think I’m alluding to politics.) In this way, it is not possible to remove either. I believe everyone is born with at least 1 drop of each in that cup. You cannot be without evil. And you cannot be without good.

    Think about it. If you lived with only Good, assuming it were a noun, which it’s not to me, then you wouldn’t know what Evil was. Good wouldn’t be good, it would be the norm. The normal being neutral. The control. So then Good and Evil fail to exist without the other to use as a comparison.

    So I guess I follow some Comparison Theory. The idea that Light only exists because Dark exists to contrast it. We know the sky is blue because it is not the same color as what we call green, red, etc. I believe our entire world is made of not observations, but contrast. So I can argue that Good and Evil are the same entity, idea, thought, process, emotion – and we simply make a decision based on that.

    If we wanted to rob a bank, we could compare that to not robbing a bank. Robbing would get us money and potentially hurt people. Not robbing it, we could probably be better off not going to jail and not hurting people. Because Jail is bad compared to the good of NOT being in jail. And so we’ve made our decision by comparing what each of our options would get us.

    Some people are good because they see that option as the one with the most PRO points. It’s called “Weighting out your options”.

    Wow that was a long post. I may make this a post on MY blog. Why do you get all my long-winded rants?!

    In any case, I do agree with you that good and evil exist but I do not believe our actions can fully be described as Good or Evil because of the many factors that go into making our choices.

    Also, Hi Fae!

  2. 2 faeyin

    LOL thats a long way of saying that YEAH im with you FAY! xD That’s more or less what I think..and I think what most sensible people think.
    Have you done Nietzsche yet? Beyond Good and Evil.. and what i get from that is that there’s like this huge singularity for good and evil. You know you know.. singularities.. where in nature the natural laws of nature break down, like in black holes. Well, I think Good and Evil are KINDA like that.

    Like good is dependent on context.. you might lie to save a friend’s life..but most of the time lying is considered wrong. The situation created a moral singularity in that instance.. (which goes with what you said about the many factors that go into making our choices. )

    PS. Blog away!

  3. 3 reyhn

    hahaha. Well I always leave all these lame little posts for you that contain like no in-depth analysis of what you are saying despite the fact that I really do read and comprehend what you type. So I was TRYING to show that I understand by overstating my opinion with literary symbolism and over-context.

    The true irony lies in my first sentence where I’m explaining this LIGHTLY. I could write a book off my philosophical and moral standpoints – and one day, I maybe will. Good versus Evil could fill thirty years of my life.

    Well, I’m not into any philosophy courses since all I’m taking is core requirements. You know, beginner english, secondary language, politics, math, science (well not the last two, THANK YOU AP TESTING). But I do read a lot on philosophy in my spare time since it’s my hobby too.

    But yes. Nietzsche’s point was that even the natural course of events will naturally be disrupted for the sake of maintaining nature. Basically, at any time, the truth can be altered for no apparent reason – and that gives lead to the proof that truth exists, because we can see the result of it’s inexistance. Black Holes prove that our world is governed by laws of nature. Blah blah.

    It goes back to the whole “You know it’s dark because it’s not light.”

    Anywho, I think it’s basically that Good and Evil should be differential without being separate. You know they do not act in the same way, but to split them would be splitting hairs.

    I mean, um, “YEAH IM WITH YOU FAY! XD”

  4. 4 faeyin

    xD you’re doing great. Something about just talking this stuff over is extremely helpful. I mean, most people know this stuff deep down .. they just don’t KNNOOOOOOOWWWWW they know it til they hammer it out for themselves. But once they do it seems like common sense to them.

    I find that natural laws breaking down at singularities to be fascinating…

    I mean –

    I’m WITH YOU TOO REHYNE!!!


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