Jul. 4th, 2012

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The following is a report on a virtual Milgram experiment, of interest to the topic of emotional involvement with fictional entities:

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These are some thoughts following an argument I had with someone who believes that "cruelty" implies a malevolent will to hurt others. As a result of which I was prompted to ponder my views on the nature of evil.

Legally, "malice" depends on the intent to inflict harm, or recklessness as to whether such harm should occur, regardless of any pleasure taken in the pain of others, or malevolent will to do evil. So I think one can be called cruel without implying intent to inflict harm.

Regarding evil, personally, I don't think "evil" is an independent quality - rather, I see evil as lack of "goodness" (in a Qlippothic sense), a deviation from the ideal, actions devoid of conscience, life spelled backwards. Evil is banal, it is stupid. It is ignorance according to Plato, or lack of imagination according to Arendt.

To quote Arendt: "It was not the presence of hatred that enabled Eichmann to perpetrate the genocide, but the absence of the imaginative capacities that would have made the human and moral dimensions of his activities tangible for him. This amounted to a failure to use self-reflection as a basis for judgement, the faculty that would have required Eichmann to exercise his imagination so as to contemplate the nature of his deeds from the experiential standpoint of his victims."

So like with cruelty, I don't think "evil" implies demonic intent so much as a disregard for consequences.

It could be argued that my definition of "evil" is no different from being human and fallible - that is the point. I have no use for a concept of supernatural evil. Even someone who is enslaving nations, burning cities, eating babies and strangling kittens for fun is being fallibly human. They are "evil" because they are being less good than they could be. If they absolutely *couldn't* be better, that would make them less evil, not more so. A mudslide, a hurricane or a bullet aren't "evil," because there are no "better angels of their nature" which they ignore.


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