Debate: Is Human Nature Inherently Good Or Evil? (locked)

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Define ‘good’ and ‘evil’ before you can really ask that question.

 
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Evil.

Though my definitions of ‘human nature’, ‘good’ and ‘evil’ are my own so I am not sure how much serious discussion can be had from my stating ‘evil’, but you asked so I answered

 
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It’s neither. And both.

 
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Originally posted by Terence22205:

Each defined by its characteristics.

The clear definition of what you believe is ‘good’ or ‘evil’ is solely your own.

Then I’ll define “good” as “owning a puppy” and “evil” as “enjoying sleep.” Therefore, human nature is primarily evil, though some people are good in addition to being evil.

Originally posted by Terence22205:

This is going nowhere.

So give us better definitions to work with.

 
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well your asking us to skip a step. definitions of good and evil is a seperate question from human nature. this is a discussion forum, not a listing forum, but in order to have a discussion we need better parameters.

this is too vague and our responses would have too little common ground to form a discussion.

also it’s not good form to beg us to start a discussion on your prefered topic. why don’t you start?

 
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It can be either. You need to respect peoples’ moral compasses and wherever they may point.

 
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You should have put more thought in asking the question.

 
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We are mentally programmed not to notice our advantages, and probably also to take every opportunity we get to survive.

 
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I have to put a lot of effort into being an optimist. In the wild, animals fight, animals steal, animals deceive, and the list goes on. But every once in a while I see an evil in humanity that shakes my upward looking perspective. There are some crimes committed by humans against each other and themselves that seem to go beyond natural human instinctive behavior.

I don’t know if we are innately good or evil, but I do believe that there are forces at work among and within us that enable us to be more noble, or more vicious, than what comes naturally to our species.

 
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I’d say by nature we’re relatively evil. Think about it, did you take candy/toys/snacks/whatever from your peers when you were a small child? You wanted it, you took it (or tried to, anyway), you didn’t think anything of the other kid’s “feelings” about losing their candy. Gradually, as you grew older, you hopefully learned to share with others, most likely through punishment/praise.

 
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Originally posted by onlineidiot1994:

I’d say by nature we’re relatively evil. Think about it, did you take candy/toys/snacks/whatever from your peers when you were a small child? You wanted it, you took it (or tried to, anyway), you didn’t think anything of the other kid’s “feelings” about losing their candy. Gradually, as you grew older, you hopefully learned to share with others, most likely through punishment/praise.

Egocentrism is a psychological tenet that holds that children have not developed cognitively to be aware that others have their own perceptions.
Thus, they can not comprehend that the other child has their own perception and feelings about the toy; they can only understand that they want the toy.

Furthermore, a child lacks abstract reasoning. Just because we’re capable of reasoning does’t mean that the children are.
So how would they intentionally be good or evil if they don’t even know what they are.

 
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Evil.

What rights do we have to decide how others live?

What rights do we have to judge others?

What rights do we have to force our belief onto others?

By saying these, I’m being a hypocrite, and so is the millions of others who have thought this. And by doing the above, you are being hard on others.

I’ve just described humanity.

If you feel that being hypocritical is evil, then everybody is evil. Otherwise, a large portion are evil.

 
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Mostly Evil.

Personal- Most of us are just racist, judge others, and force our belief into others (good point zAstonish)

In nature, I agree we are slowly destroying it, and people don’t even know it.

Define good and evil. I got confused back there

 
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Mostly Good-people hold on to morale values passed on by their prior generations. You cannot imply that everybody is evil because mankind has a tendency to uphold morale values before undergoing wicked or evil deeds.

 
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People are born different… but babies are evil. p

 
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Well, both. But the evil lies primarily in conditioning that occurs to the mind (although the mind’s inherent “ability to be conditioned” is what allows this), whereas I believe the good is more inherent (i.e. get rid of conditioning and you are left with goodness).

 
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Evil.

There’s rarely a actual caring, generous or giving person out there.
If it doesn’t benefit them, or make them feel good(benefiting them), almost no one cares.

Rights are based on general views.
Even if we should logically give someone rights if we give these people rights, we don’t.

Rights are only fighted for if they’re your rights.
If they don’t help or benefit you in a way, you won’t fight for me.
This is related to the first example.

We will kill anything or destroy anything for our gain.
Even if we like it, if it gives us a small temporary non-needed gain, we’ll destroy/kill it for it.

Even advocates or “organizations” follow these almost completely.
I can’t think of a single “Good” feature we have as a species. We’re the flu that this planet was unfortunate enough to catch.


We are basically the species that they describe in alien movies.
Everything that they usually show in those videos, we do or would do.

 
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If there was an earthquake, and this old man who has been kind to you at least once had a really cool 2013 car was injured, would you help the old man or steal his car?

Providing the fact that you could get away with anything at that moment.

In the end, its just a car

 
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We’re really neither, if you consider the facts. We are essentially preprogrammed quasi-automatons who act and react on impulses of instinctual mechanisms. We don’t choose what we want or don’t want; we do not possess authority over the prioritization of our apprehension. reality has always been a naturalistic broil of coincidental variables and our evolutionary integration is the result of our survival. our circuitry has been so routed and wired that what we do is not something of our choice, but occurs owing to external influences. just my 2 cents.

disclaimer: horrible grammar is due to lack of time; will rectify if necessary

 
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I personally feel that while an individual can be conditioned to perform both evil and good, a person is naturally neutral.

I feel that a person’s action is mainly to satisfy their needs. While being self serving and selfish is portrayed as a negative trait, I find that it is more of a neutral one. How an individuals nature will satisfy their neutral needs determines the individuals nature as either good or evil. I feel it is unlikely for a human to perform actions solely to be evil, nor is it reasonable to believe that an individual is truly altruistic and demands nothing. Whether it’s robbing a person or helping an old lady cross the street, we’re expecting some form of reward whether it’s material or to better our reputation in order to benefit our own position.

 
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Originally posted by simeng:

We’re really neither, if you consider the facts. We are essentially preprogrammed quasi-automatons who act and react on impulses of instinctual mechanisms. We don’t choose what we want or don’t want; we do not possess authority over the prioritization of our apprehension. reality has always been a naturalistic broil of coincidental variables and our evolutionary integration is the result of our survival. our circuitry has been so routed and wired that what we do is not something of our choice, but occurs owing to external influences. just my 2 cents.

disclaimer: horrible grammar is due to lack of time; will rectify if necessary

This reminds me of Sam Harris’ book “Free Will” where he attempts to prove that free will is self-deception and an illusion, and that people and their actions are nothing but DNA, chemical reactions, and colliding atoms within us. He makes a brutal bifurcation (pg 42 if memory serves right) that we are ether not responsible for our actions, or we are not responsible for our actions (highly logical right?), my huge issue with this view\ your view is that it absolves all responsibility for actions.

If you openly accept that there really is no absolute moral law and that our actions are just chemical reactions inside of us that are unchangeable, then you must openly accept that the Holocaust, Inquisition, and child molestation are all not the least bit evil. After all the responsible forces of the latter are not really responsible since they were doing what their DNA told them too.
And if a man came to your house and killed your family, you have no right to be mad because maybe he thought that it was a good thing for him to do, and it would be mighty intolerant of you to say that he is wrong because ultimately, he did what he thought was right and he had no choice because it’s what the chemicals in his body made him do.

This whole, “you can’t define good or bad” stems from postmodernist relativism, which fails to even meet the most basic logical laws of philosophy (the most serious offense being that disregard of the law of non-contraction).
For example to state that there is no absolute truth is an absolute statement.

To state that that good and evil are completely subjective and cannot be objectively defined is self defeating. Because your assertion is objective in nature. But what if I say that your statement is a lie and that there is an absolute morality caused by a transcendent cause?
Can both conflicting statements be be true at the same time in the same sense?
Some could respond “what’s true for me is true for me, and what’s true for you is true for you”
But what if my truth says your truth is a lie?
If logical integrity is to be preserved then 2 conflicting statements cannot be both true at the same time and in the same sense.

 
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Originally posted by jjuanksta:
He makes a brutal bifurcation (pg 42 if memory serves right) that we are ether not responsible for our actions, or we are not responsible for our actions (highly logical right?), my huge issue with this view\ your view is that it absolves all responsibility for actions.

This happens to be true, but its rather more complex than that. Rather our conscious minds are not responsible for the vast majority of our actions. However, our subconscious ones are. They precede the conscious brain in making decisions we then ‘decide’ to make, by as much as ten seconds.

However, we can still be punished for these actions, as they are outside of what the society we exist in, deems acceptable. Whether we are punished or not, depends on the action, and the set of morals that particular society follows. There’s no such thing as ‘evil’, but there is such a thing as ‘undesirable to society’.

Regardless of whether or not you made the decision, your brain still did, and it is that brain which has to be reconditioned if you are to fit into society properly.

 
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Originally posted by jjuanksta:
Originally posted by simeng:

We’re really neither, if you consider the facts. We are essentially preprogrammed quasi-automatons who act and react on impulses of instinctual mechanisms. We don’t choose what we want or don’t want; we do not possess authority over the prioritization of our apprehension. reality has always been a naturalistic broil of coincidental variables and our evolutionary integration is the result of our survival. our circuitry has been so routed and wired that what we do is not something of our choice, but occurs owing to external influences. just my 2 cents.

disclaimer: horrible grammar is due to lack of time; will rectify if necessary

This reminds me of Sam Harris’ book “Free Will” where he attempts to prove that free will is self-deception and an illusion, and that people and their actions are nothing but DNA, chemical reactions, and colliding atoms within us. He makes a brutal bifurcation (pg 42 if memory serves right) that we are ether not responsible for our actions, or we are not responsible for our actions (highly logical right?), my huge issue with this view\ your view is that it absolves all responsibility for actions.

If you openly accept that there really is no absolute moral law and that our actions are just chemical reactions inside of us that are unchangeable, then you must openly accept that the Holocaust, Inquisition, and child molestation are all not the least bit evil. After all the responsible forces of the latter are not really responsible since they were doing what their DNA told them too.
And if a man came to your house and killed your family, you have no right to be mad because maybe he thought that it was a good thing for him to do, and it would be mighty intolerant of you to say that he is wrong because ultimately, he did what he thought was right and he had no choice because it’s what the chemicals in his body made him do.

This whole, “you can’t define good or bad” stems from postmodernist relativism, which fails to even meet the most basic logical laws of philosophy (the most serious offense being that disregard of the law of non-contraction).
For example to state that there is no absolute truth is an absolute statement.

To state that that good and evil are completely subjective and cannot be objectively defined is self defeating. Because your assertion is objective in nature. But what if I say that your statement is a lie and that there is an absolute morality caused by a transcendent cause?
Can both conflicting statements be be true at the same time in the same sense?
Some could respond “what’s true for me is true for me, and what’s true for you is true for you”
But what if my truth says your truth is a lie?
If logical integrity is to be preserved then 2 conflicting statements cannot be both true at the same time and in the same sense.

Thinking is a controlled flourishing of chemical reactions. Therefore, although our very nature is determined by the onset and offset of certain chemical reactions, we are nominated to the fulfillment of deontological morality and are therefore to be held culpable for the objects of our responsibilities. Yes, even thinking is materialistic in deposition – I accept that mental processes are merely brain processes and that the machine of the consciousness is a product of physiological mechanisms – but we are not entitled to the absolution of civil obligation simply owing to the tenets of that premise. My point is quite clear and coherent, at least in the sense that I cite my understanding. One could ably paraphrase the dynamics of human rights in terms of naturalistic principles.

Then, you cease hovering over the dashed flares of human morality and transpose the focus of attention to a different locus of philosophical inquiry – the melody of postmodern relativism, as you referred to it. I would concede that the philosophy in question is an imposition of self-forfeiture, given its paradoxical designation.

However, it would seem that you are confused in your conclusion. The statement, “All members of A are (BCD)” is a two-tier entity and cannot be subtly nuanced into a single state without palliation of its logical cardinality. For example, “morality is absolutely subjective” is not a contradiction in terms, but rather a two-tier statement concerning the nature of the absolute and the relative. The beast rears its odious head only to scry out the sorrow of its heartfelt inadequacy. I have tamed your abominable fiend and repelled the stroke of your spry, lithe rebuttal.

 
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VikaTae-
That is an interesting theory. For the sake of better understanding where you are coming from, if you do not believe there is evil, do you believe in the existence of “good”?
What do you mean by “society”?
What authority does a “society” over the individual to be able to punish them for doing something “undesirable”? where does this authority come from?
Where do we draw the line between responsibility and the excuse, “my genes made me do it”?
And for the sake of curiosity,
Do you believe the assertions and statements you made and answers to the above questions are all absolutely true? Or are they only true for you and not necessarily any one else, and thus invalid to impose on anyone else unless you are “society” and can punish someone for not submitting to it?

Side note: It would be fascinating to compare the Nature Vs. Nurture and to what extent those play a role in the mind as far as decisions and morality go.
And by no means take what I’m saying as a personal attack, I merely want understanding.

Originally posted by simeng:
Originally posted by jjuanksta:
Originally posted by simeng:

We’re really neither, if you consider the facts. We are essentially preprogrammed quasi-automatons who act and react on impulses of instinctual mechanisms. We don’t choose what we want or don’t want; we do not possess authority over the prioritization of our apprehension. reality has always been a naturalistic broil of coincidental variables and our evolutionary integration is the result of our survival. our circuitry has been so routed and wired that what we do is not something of our choice, but occurs owing to external influences. just my 2 cents.

disclaimer: horrible grammar is due to lack of time; will rectify if necessary

This reminds me of Sam Harris’ book “Free Will” where he attempts to prove that free will is self-deception and an illusion, and that people and their actions are nothing but DNA, chemical reactions, and colliding atoms within us. He makes a brutal bifurcation (pg 42 if memory serves right) that we are ether not responsible for our actions, or we are not responsible for our actions (highly logical right?), my huge issue with this view\ your view is that it absolves all responsibility for actions.

If you openly accept that there really is no absolute moral law and that our actions are just chemical reactions inside of us that are unchangeable, then you must openly accept that the Holocaust, Inquisition, and child molestation are all not the least bit evil. After all the responsible forces of the latter are not really responsible since they were doing what their DNA told them too.
And if a man came to your house and killed your family, you have no right to be mad because maybe he thought that it was a good thing for him to do, and it would be mighty intolerant of you to say that he is wrong because ultimately, he did what he thought was right and he had no choice because it’s what the chemicals in his body made him do.

This whole, “you can’t define good or bad” stems from postmodernist relativism, which fails to even meet the most basic logical laws of philosophy (the most serious offense being that disregard of the law of non-contraction).
For example to state that there is no absolute truth is an absolute statement.

To state that that good and evil are completely subjective and cannot be objectively defined is self defeating. Because your assertion is objective in nature. But what if I say that your statement is a lie and that there is an absolute morality caused by a transcendent cause?
Can both conflicting statements be be true at the same time in the same sense?
Some could respond “what’s true for me is true for me, and what’s true for you is true for you”
But what if my truth says your truth is a lie?
If logical integrity is to be preserved then 2 conflicting statements cannot be both true at the same time and in the same sense.

Thinking is a controlled flourishing of chemical reactions. Therefore, although our very nature is determined by the onset and offset of certain chemical reactions, we are nominated to the fulfillment of deontological morality and are therefore to be held culpable for the objects of our responsibilities. Yes, even thinking is materialistic in deposition – I accept that mental processes are merely brain processes and that the machine of the consciousness is a product of physiological mechanisms – but we are not entitled to the absolution of civil obligation simply owing to the tenets of that premise. My point is quite clear and coherent, at least in the sense that I cite my understanding. One could ably paraphrase the dynamics of human rights in terms of naturalistic principles.

Then, you cease hovering over the dashed flares of human morality and transpose the focus of attention to a different locus of philosophical inquiry – the melody of postmodern relativism, as you referred to it. I would concede that the philosophy in question is an imposition of self-forfeiture, given its paradoxical designation.

However, it would seem that you are confused in your conclusion. The statement, “All members of A are (BCD)” is a two-tier entity and cannot be subtly nuanced into a single state without palliation of its logical cardinality. For example, “morality is absolutely subjective” is not a contradiction in terms, but rather a two-tier statement concerning the nature of the absolute and the relative. The beast rears its odious head only to cry out the sorrow of its heartfelt inadequacy. I have tamed your abominable fiend and repelled the stroke of your spry, lithe rebuttal.

Care to support your statement that thinking is a controlled flourishing chemical reaction? I disagree. In Newsweek recently there was an interview with a Harvard scientist with the same view as you… until he died temporarily until he was brought back with a defibrillator. Clinically dead, and yet he had visions and was conscience and aware while in a coma. J.P. Moreland, and even several Atheist believe and argue convincingly that there is an immaterial part of us, and thus your assertion that thinking is strictly a controlled flourishing of chemical reactions is highly contested.

Secondly, you admit relativism is an imposition of self-forfeiture, so my question for you sir is weather you believe in absolute truth?
Because truth and morality are inter-connected.
If there is no truth, then what is good or evil is undecipherable because we have no standard to measure it by.
However if there is absolute truth, than it can be used as a standard by which to measure morality.
The argument evolves here to what is the source of truth?
You cannot separate Truth and morality because they are interconnected.
For example If it is absolutely true that it is wrong to molest children and beat them, then an offender is clearly committing an act of “evil”
The offender has gone against what is true, and thus is the guilty party.
Broken down if absolute truth exists then: truth is good and non-truth is evil by definition.
It is purely an epistemological argument because morality is based on epistemology.