Have you ever asked yourself why there is evil in the world? The concepts of good and evil are only subjective sensations, the result of comparative judgments and the free choice of each person.
Before we talk about evil in the world today, let’s discuss how different philosophers in history understood the concept of evil.
What Is Evil in Philosophy?
Evil is usually perceived only as a concept of value, the opposite to good. In the simplest explanation, evil is everything that contradicts high morality. It is something that ultimately harms individuals and human society.
As long as the human civilization exists, there were so many concepts of good and evil. All philosophical and moral concepts are built on this dualism, each of which tries to build its own system of evaluation criteria and rules of human behavior in the society.
And each of them is so relative that in essence, these concepts are only a figment of the collective human mind that has nothing to do with the objective reality of the universe. Good and evil do not exist in the pure sense. There are only some reasons for conditional human expediency.
Matter does not care whether it is able to create a person, kill or save them. Matter simply exists, as Hegel said, “in itself and for itself.” Natural phenomena are associated with the concepts of good and evil in exceptional cases, for example, in earthquakes, tsunamis, and other disasters. Here, people usually forget the immense and continuous good that nature gives us.
Within the problem of good and evil, everything depends on how a person uses nature, for destruction or creation, as a poison or as a medicine. Good and evil are concepts correlated with humans and can only be seen in their actions. Even philosophers of the Hellenistic era found a source of both good and evil in the contradictory nature of man.
3 Types of Evil According to Leibniz
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, a German polymath and philosopher, considered the existing world the best possible. But then why is there evil in the world?
He asked the question and came to the conclusion that there are three types of evil. These necessarily arise from the very existence of the man and the surrounding world:
- metaphysical evil is the susceptibility of creatures to suffering, associated with their mortality;
- physical evil is the suffering of sentient beings who are punished for educational purposes;
- moral evil is a sin as a conscious violation of the universal laws. This is evil in the proper sense of the word.
Therefore, remaining on the positions of the scientific approach, we must admit that the concept of good or evil can only be born in the mind of a person. The source of conscious evil or good for people can only be actions of individuals as a form of external expression of their thoughts.
The actions of individuals must be evaluated as good or evil, accordingly, whether they contribute to or hinder the satisfaction of the historical needs of society as a whole, that is, to the interests of the society expressing these needs.
Good is evil and evil is good. «Fair is foul, and foul is fair…», Shakespeare wrote in «Macbeth». This is an interaction between two opposite categories. This paradox is the moving force in human history.
According to Hegel, any progress of human society will be impossible without the constant unity and struggle of these opposites.
Evil in the World Today
We can admit that good is related to the positive changes in society. In the opposite way, evil leads to destruction and suffering. The actions of an individual can be either good or evil, depending on the inner world of the person and what values dominate in them.
Political judgments are also evaluated within the dichotomy of good and evil. There is always a certain system of values behind them that must be shared by the majority in order to be good in the political sense. In many ways, moral evil neighbors and defines physical, social, and political evil.
In the modern world of mass media, it forms the public consciousness and contributes to the evaluation of events in many ways. Mass media prompts the person what problems are associated with good and which are evil. This process paradoxically mixes the concepts of good and evil.
The Justification of Evil in the World Today
Evil in the world today is the same as it was centuries ago, but it is enriched by unwritten rules of the new world, equipped financially and technically, which has unprecedented information and communication possibilities.
Evil becomes stronger and more sophisticated at all levels of its manifestation. Unlike the good, the evil more and more reveals its absoluteness. The higher a man ascends, liberated by the ideology of permissiveness from all salvific thoughts about the essence of evil, the more dangerous are attempts to justify it.
Never before people and entire states have flirted so vigorously with evil for good purposes. But is it possible to find at least anything positive in what we consider evil: in wars, man-caused disasters, the predatory exhaustion of natural resources, crises, diseases, crimes, and drug addictions?
The justification of evil can be found in modern philosophical treatises and in art. However, the choice of good presents the only condition for the survival of mankind. It is becoming more problematic because of the theoretically proved and practically realized principle of the non-morality of business and politics.
Distinguishing Good from Evil
For human beings, an inseparable attribute of good or evil and, accordingly, the choice between them, should be a certain criterion. It makes it possible to distinguish good from evil, which is more or less accessible to the individual.
A number of values and motivators should be this criterion. Their reproduction in the mind of an individual should bring them closer to their own categorical essence, distancing them from the sphere of biological and reflex conditioning characteristics of animals.
So what do we mean by good? In other words, it is when a person’s thoughts, intentions, and actions reflect their conscious desire to act in accordance with their highest human purpose.
It seems extremely clear that the world in which we live is still unfair. Why is there so much evil in the world? We all have destructive tendencies because we have the ability to feel. Good may lose, but it never dies. This eternal struggle between losing good and the victorious evil is our life and history.
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