How is the nature of evil determined?
Good and evil
It's all a matter of interpretation
"The good - this sentence is clear - is always the bad, what you leave behind." At least that's what Wilhelm Busch thinks at the end of his picture story "Die pious Helene". But what exactly is good and what is bad?
There is no generally applicable definition of what is good and what is bad. Nevertheless, all people fill these abstract terms with content within a very short time. Content that is relevant to the reality of your life. This applies to all cultures.
It is easy to agree that it is better to be compassionate and help others than to let them suffer. Also, there seems to be little doubt that it is better to be fair than a cheater. The truth is also preferred to lies when it comes to naming the good.
Everyone will be able to quickly agree on these and similar conventions. All of them are just interpretations. Because just as there are no exact definitions for good or bad, neither are both concepts static. It can vary from situation to situation whether something is assessed as good, bad or bad.
A lie doesn't have to be bad
It is usually bad to lie. But there are moments when it can be appropriate to withhold the truth. Possibly, if it can save someone else's life.
The white lie is less dramatic, but much more common in use. Studies have shown that people do not take the truth as seriously up to 200 times a day, for example in order not to bring the other person into an unpleasant situation or even to injure them. That doesn't exactly make things any easier.
Man is brutal
What is certain, however, is that man has both good and bad in him. It stands to reason that it makes more sense for human society to give priority to the good, that is, to treat one another peacefully. Everyone benefits from this, because this is the only way to build a stable and future-oriented system.
It is also true, however, that aggression as a variant of evil was already anchored in the first living beings that populated the earth. For many animals, killing meant survival, either by preying on them or by defending their territory.
In contrast, humans are the first and only species to make targeted use of aggression in the form of violence. The repertoire is as inexhaustible as it is brutal and sadistic at the same time.
No other creature inflicts such suffering on a conspecific as man. Be it to take revenge, to satisfy one's own instincts or to simply exercise power over the other.
It is also unthinkable in the animal kingdom that a group should unconditionally follow an individual in order to comply with his or her desire to kill. Humans do that. They go to war and destroy one another.
Ethics provide assistance
The most diverse sciences have devoted themselves to the question of good and bad. First of all the philosophy. In ancient times it was the Greek thinker Aristotle who introduced ethics as an independent philosophical discipline. Their subject matter is the values, norms and customs of society - also called morality. That is, what a society considers good or right.
These social values are not set in stone, but only a mirror of their time. You are thus changeable.
Ethics instructs people to use their understanding to orient their own actions according to moral principles. One could also say that ethics provide people with an orientation in everyday life with other people: what is right, what is wrong?
The practical implementation of theoretical considerations was a special concern of Aristotle. In order to make right and wrong decisions, ethics provides two different tools, among other things.
Firstly, utilitarianism, according to which an action is good or right when it is useful.
In contrast, there is the deontology, according to which it does not matter what is right or wrong. Because there are actions that are defined as wrong from the start and therefore must not be carried out.
All moral values have one thing in common: they are all abstract conventions of a community. Many of these values can also be found in the different religions. Here the good watches over the actions of men in the form of a god.
In the case of Christianity, for example, good has a direct antagonist: the devil. He is the personification of evil, whose kingdom is hell. A place of eternal torment and damnation for sinners. In other words, those who violated Christian values during their lifetime.
In order for believers to succeed in leading a godly life, they must adhere to Christian morals. That is why God Himself gave them the Ten Commandments. Among other things, they say that it is not allowed to steal or kill. But even without a religious superstructure, these two "laws" make sense. The first people who lived in larger groups understood this.
Grammar of morals
The natural sciences have also tried to fathom good and bad. Towards the end of the 19th century, the Italian prison doctor Cesare Lombroso examined the skull shape of serious criminals and derived the "homo delinquens" from it. He believed that evil was inherent in criminals and that you could tell by looking at them.
Typical characteristics of the born criminal are a huge lower jaw, large eye sockets and a receding forehead. He also believed that he could distinguish: Sex offenders had proliferating lips, while thieves had crooked noses. A few decades later, the National Socialist Racial Doctrine was able to gain a lot from this theory.
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