Monday, September 06, 2010

EVIL: How defined? To be Accepted or Fought?

As I am preparing to give a lecture on this topic, and I have never earlier spoken or written on it, I thought I might post the outline to get the benefit of your thoughts:

EVIL: How defined? To be Accepted or Fought?
A Cross-cultural and Inter-religious Comparison
by Professor Prabhu Guptara


1. There is nothing which is essentially or intrinsically "evil" (Vedanta, Yin-Yang philosophies, Buddhism, Evolutionism, Existentialism, Hedonism, and other philosophies from some of the most modern to some of the oldest)

2. Evil can only be defined in relation to society (Confuicius, Manu, Nietzche, the Utilitarians, Ayn Rand...)

3. Evil is defined in relation to God's will or to the nature of the universe (Islam, "Karma"...)

4. Evil is defined in relation to the nature or character of God's own self (Jewish Bible, New Testament)

B. WHAT is evil?

Those who accept that there is anything "evil" usually think of a range or spectrum, from a good or ideal to desirable, going on to a marginal evil and then to profound evil. In the case of evil, the traditional classification is "venal" versus "cardinal" sins.


i. Just accept it (Buddhism, Vedanta, Yin-Yang philosophies, some Evolutionists and Existentialists...)

ii. Fight it when convenient/ possible at no great cost to yourself

iii. Fight it with all you have (Jewish Bible, Koran, New Testament, some Existentialists, some Humanists, Ayn Rand...)


a. Because you will be rewarded for it (Koran and other ...)

b. Because fighting evil is worth doing in itself (Jewish Bible, New Testament, some humanists, Ayn Rand...)

c. Because your character will be transformed, as it should be, into the likeness of God (Jewish Bible, New Testament)

ENDS Sphere: Related Content

1 comment:

Joanna said...

When I think of evil I never really think of it as a continuum from bad to really bad but as a culmination of the small acts. After all the most heinous of crimes start off with a thought or a small action, very rarely does someone who is living a "good" life suddenly go and murder a number of people for no reason, there is usually a perceived wrong, a mulling over of actions of revenge before the event. Even someone who is perceived as bad and would kill for the sheer joy of it has usually arrived at that point from a series of smaller points or a bad background.

Similarly evil can be "fought" by the small acts, it doesn't always have to be the huge heroic fight that many seem to thrive on but the small acts of kindness and love on a daily basis will prove more effective than the railing against a system. That is not to say that sometimes people are indeed called to stand up and fight the evil system and speak out against it but it will come to nothing if they are not used to performing the small acts of kindness and love to those around them. Who can trust those who speak out about sin in our societies if they are not taking care of their family and hold them as precious?