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A.O. Kime Articles:

AGRICULTURE
Betrayal
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Muse
Plotinus
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Suicide
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Time (nature of)
Two Septembers
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SOCIOPOLITICAL
19th century
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The Quest for the Nature of Evil

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Evil, wrongdoing and its obfuscated makeup

(2nd edition - Jan 2016) by A.O. Kime
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Although evil is well known through acts of cruelty and countless other injustices, yet despite our ability to recognize these ‘footprints‘, mankind has never been able to follow this trail… to somehow put a ‘face’ on evil. Not ever, not since the dawn of time.

Yet, we should be capable. After all, the mystery isn’t completely incomprehensible… at least not to our senses… at least not to dimensional thinking. Often, we can even sense the presence of evil before something happens. Perhaps by following every lead, turning over every rock, we might then be able to more accurately describe it or understand its position in the scheme of things (if it has a ‘position’).

Presently, the only worthwhile lead we seem to have so far is that evil is associated with the ‘material world’ (matter)… as suggested most famously by Plotinus within the Enneads . While religions address evil, they don’t do it pragmatically therefore their generalized contentions cannot be followed. Except for theologians such as St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, religions address evil only in the greater sense. So, for these purposes, scriptures are set-aside.

Meanwhile, whether philosophical or religious, rooted in the same frustration the target is the same… that is, to describe the essence of evil. Is it an entity, force or just the absence of good? While mankind knows what evil is, when and where it exists, he’s never been able to effectively explain the ’why’ or define the ’who’ (or what).

Seemingly, we’ve been looking at the subject of evil wrong because it’s a curiosity of a dimensional nature. This would complicate any attempt to reconcile and explain when evil exists in both the physical dimension and mentally. In other words, evil is seen as both a physical act and a counterforce to an ideal.

Evil from different perspectives

In presenting some novel ways to look at evil, which will hopefully contribute to a greater understanding of its being, let’s also address evil in an ‘everyday’ fashion (philosophically shallow) to help ’set-the-stage’… useful when trying to convey an idea. In short, inspecting and pondering these ‘common rocks’ helps paint the picture. They are what we see and contend with.

However disjointed, let’s also throw in a few characteristics of evil as well… along with some comments from a different perspective. Keep in mind that some of the following statements may not lead anywhere… but in the process of inspecting these rocks we can say we considered them. To a large extent, it’s ‘thinking out loud‘.

While we can be assured there is a reason for evil since there’s always one for everything, we cannot be certain it is actually a ’who’… even though evil has been commonly attributed to ’Satan’ or ’the devil’. Except… in the efforts to somehow depict him, we know the various artist renditions are just symbols. For a ‘face’, they fall short… therefore its essence still escapes us.

Horror and terror... and degrees of evil

In vicious attacks, the horror experienced by the victim was surely beyond description, the intense fear, the extreme dread. To see oneself being viciously mutilated goes to the very depth of evil. It is especially true if to believe death will be the result.

Although producing horror (terror) is the worst kind of evil… why does it come in degrees at all? Shouldn’t evil be evil no matter what? Yet, it comes in degrees.

Since it comes in degrees, perhaps it’s possible mortals are just responsible for the lesser evils. After all, there are usually other reasons attached. For example, theft is driven by ‘need’ (albeit usually contrived). For other acts of evil there are usually other contributing factors such as jealousy, revenge, greed, lust and hatred. Some may prefer the terms temptation, ignorance and weakness. Violence, however, seems to stand alone… as if being perpetrated by the devil himself. If not the devil, then seemingly some ‘force’.

While violence is that which invokes horror, it seems even that can be fine-tuned into degrees as well. Although muggings and brawls might often be horrifying, it seems different than the type when death seems a certainty. Of course, that’s not say the uncertainty of one’s fate would be a minor concern.

Then there is defenselessness.

Since defenselessness in long-lasting savage (brutal) attacks seem the worst-of-the-worst, perhaps it’s possible that in these cases is when evil can be best described. After all, it is then when it seems to be in its ‘purest’ form.

Since it would be helpful to know what we’re looking for, perhaps we should first determine whether evil is an entity (the devil) or an essence (a force). That evil appears to be associated with 'coward' may be a clue. Since it doesn’t seem possible a force could be cowardly, perhaps this indicates evil is an entity (which Christians say).

Why cowardly? Well, evil acts are always done in a cowardly fashion… aren‘t they? Even if evil is done openly (not sneaky), they aren’t done without having some 'advantage' usually requiring a great deal of advantage. Doesn’t it seem that victory must be assured by the evil doer? Since cowardice wouldn’t be a characteristic of a force, it points to something alive… but that doesn’t necessarily mean ‘the devil’. It could just mean an evil mind (exclusively human). More on this later.

The absence of good?

Of course, psychologists, psychiatrists and naturopathic counselors would likely say evil is neither an entity nor a force, that it’s just the ‘absence of good‘. While the absence of something might often mean nothing, at least not anything consequential, often unworthy of the trouble (or need) to label, ‘absence’ can also suggest a void was created. Depending on what was absent, it can often mean it was replaced by its ‘contrary‘. While tangibles (physical) things don’t have ‘contraries’, their absence being replaceable with most anything else tangible, such as iron ore existing instead of copper, that’s not necessarily the case when it comes to the intangibles (ethereal).

Emotions are an example… love and hate being contraries. While the absence of love doesn’t necessarily mean hate, it can. Moods also have contraries such as happy and sad… likewise, as in this case, there’s good and bad. Of course, these are just concepts, opposed to each other only to the extent of our understanding, our imagination.

However, it’s far more likely that passiveness (neutrality) would take the place of good. Still, when good doesn’t exist it allows a neutral environment and since neutrality has neither quality, effectively ‘inert’ in this regard, of ‘uninfluenced naturalness‘ then, evil is ’allowed’ to enter the domain. On the other hand… good, by its very nature, by its very presence, renders evil non-existent. That’s not to say good isn’t vulnerable (to attack) however.

As to being vulnerable, neither good or evil have any defenses except for their convictions. It’s mainly about their offensive capabilities since both are forced upon the scene.

Allegorically speaking , this ‘air of good’ is like a bubble which may be large or small but which will always exist alongside and among two other type bubbles comprised of either (1) nothing (uninfluenced naturalness) or (2) evil.

So… when might evil enter the scene? Well, it occurs most often when one is disadvantaged. We also know where it comes from since it is easy to recognize its breeding grounds.

So, it stands to reason, the void created by the ‘absence of good’ CAN BE substantive and described as ‘evil‘. If the ‘bubble of naturalness’ is the case then it's neither. Once again, this ‘bubble of naturalness’ is intended to mean there isn’t anything happening which could be described as either ‘good’ or ‘evil’.

Although the ‘bubbles of naturalness‘ exist most everywhere practically all the time, the presence of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ only exists where humans exist. These ‘bubbles of naturalness’ likely exist 99.99% of the time and takes up 99.99% of space, whereas it’s a battle between good and evil over the remaining time and space. In other words, considering the size of the earth and the time frames of every event, these battlegrounds are tiny.

However, the range of evil greatly expands if to include the horror experienced by animals. Horror is horror... no?

Wrongdoing... absence or opposite of good?

Once again, when ancient man believed their must be a reason for wrongdoing, they wouldn’t have labeled it ’evil’ unless they meant ’opposite of good’ (in effect)… which is quite different from ‘absence of good’. In other words, except for physical objects, ‘opposite’ always has substance because it has polar values (i.e., love-hate) whereas rarely can one find any definitive value in ‘absence’.

While the academic point-of-view of ‘absence‘ suggests 'uninfluenced naturalness' fills the void - exclusively so - it dismisses any other alternative. There is always some counterforce or counter influences. If to say “opposite of good” can only mean an opposing force, whereas to say “absence of good” is to dismiass evil as a possible counterforce.

However, good and evil can hold the same ground at the same time if to consider the term ‘potential’. Whatever act takes place may not have been determined yet.

Equalizing evil

Perhaps to get anywhere, we should consider whether there is a difference between the viciousness of animal attacks and those committed by humans. Since animals (as prey) experience horror too, surely they must, should say there is no difference… that it is equally evil (at work).

While we commonly view the ordeals of humans as being the worst cases, understandably being that we’re all ‘akin‘ to each other, there’s seemingly no difference when it comes to animals. We should keep in mind… our conditioned way of looking at things doesn’t necessarily mean it represents the truth of the matter.

While examples are endless, imagine a scene involving a defenseless chicken… seeing the aftermath of a vicious attack evidenced by its feathers scattered everywhere. Then imagine this chicken, not yet dead, being carried off to another nearly location where the attack continued, evidenced by more feathers scattered about. Imagine its long-lasting horror… is this not evil?

If this act isn‘t evil, whether by bobcat, dog or owl, believing that a ‘predator and prey’ environment is only ‘natural‘, then something seems wrong. If it seems wrong, or is, does this not propel us back to the question of why?

After all, can we put a face on evil without knowing why it exists?

The bastion of evil and carnivorousness

If we can easily surmise the material world as being the bastion of evil, then we ought to imagine the goodness of mankind as being the invaders. At least this line of thinking might help put things in perspective.

We might also ponder meat-eating… is it right or not?

On the other hand, vegetarianism is also the act of eating a life-form. If we are to view the eating of animal flesh as wrong, why not also the flesh of plants? Yet, we must eat something and the only sustenance available is the remnants of life forms. Even bread is a remnant. This reality should remove any doubt the material world is evil (in the greater sense)… which, in order to survive, we must become party.

While likely the level of sentience in plant life is so low as to not experience terror (in real time), plants can still recognize damage and quickly respond... although the extent of their suffering, if any, is unknown.

But, how can we reconcile goodness, as we might describe it, while being part of this eat-each-other food chain? What can possibly be an ‘ideal’ in this horrid environment?

Accidental horror, cruelty and disregard

Obfuscating the matter of horror is that accidents have nothing to do with evil. Aside from the horror of serious injuries, one might find themselves forever trapped… perhaps lost in a cave. In other words, someone can be horrified either intentionally or unintentionally (accidental). Is accidental horror another matter or not?

Perhaps instead we should concentrate on cruelty, and not horror. After all, since horror can be caused accidentally, then, in those cases, it’s really the result of ‘cause and effect‘… falling under the domain of natural laws (physics). Semanticists seemingly did not account for this difference.

Of course, there’s no cruelty in the animal kingdom, just horror (terror).

We might also consider that only a few cruelties were purposely meant to be cruel… most fall under the domain of ‘disregard’. In other words, cruelty being the unintended side-result from someone trying to gain something. While the consequences of ‘disregard’ are often sinful, human desires are often attached whereas cruelty for cruelty sake seems to stand alone. The latter seems to represent evil itself… ‘possessing‘, in effect, the perpetrator.

Still, that view is nothing new… man has believed that for ages. Nor does it provide a clue as to whether the ‘influencer’ is an entity (Satan) or a natural force. Of course, while effectively it makes little difference, for all practical purposes being one-in-the-same, in order to fight it we still need to find out which (seemingly).

Of course, we still have the unanswered question of ’why’ to contend with (which means we haven‘t gotten anywhere yet).

The conscience and willpower

Since the term ’good’ wouldn’t exist unless there was ’bad’ (semantics), or visa versa, perhaps we should ponder these concepts. They are, after all, manmade concepts. Further, there exists ‘neutral’… neither good or bad. Since we know these differences, then our conscience factors in. After all, it’s at the heart of the matter and that aspect of our being which is being influenced (or uninfluenced if our conscience was corrupted).

Then there is the common belief that evil can do no more than just influence. After all, without having a physical presence (a body), it can do no more. While evil seems to have the power to possess, nonetheless there is evidence to suggest evil is no match for the willpower of humans (resoluteness)… a power exclusive to humans.

While the foregoing represents a few ways to look at evil, hopefully they sufficiently set the stage. Now, let’s get serious and dig deeper.

Dissecting the fog of evil

It should be said beforehand the following isn’t entirely new since it makes the same age-old connection of evil to the material world which many have claimed is either evil or prone to evil. Likewise, religions have said as much.

It should be no secret, the trick in expressing ethereal matters lies with semantics. Mainly though, it’s about how you look at the subject. In essence then, perhaps that’s all I’m really doing… articulating long-held contentions in a different way.

Let’s begin with the material world (matter).

Chosen because it refers to the subject best, in the 8th tractate of the Enneads, Plotinus says:

7. But why does the existence of the Principle of Good necessarily
comport the existence of a Principle of Evil? Is it because the All
necessarily comports the existence of Matter? Yes: for necessarily
this All is made up of contraries: it could not exist if Matter did
not. The Nature of this Kosmos is, therefore, a blend; it is blended
from the Intellectual-Principle and Necessity: what comes into it from
God is good; evil is from the Ancient Kind which, we read, is the
underlying Matter not yet brought to order by the Ideal-Form.

Now… just how this ‘ballpark theory’ is interpreted (or advanced) makes the difference.

Thomas Aquinas, on the other hand, said this:

. . . [E]vil is simply a privation of something which a subject is entitled by its origin to possess and which it ought to have, . . . privation is not an essence; it is, rather, a negation in a substance. Therefore, evil is not an essence in things.

While Aquinas is saying that evil is not a thing, but a ‘privation‘, and while true in a sense, that line of thinking doesn’t quite bridge the gap of this dimensional question either. Philosophers have failed because it is dimensional in two ways, both in reality and in our abstract way of looking at things (which rarely reflects the same dimension). Not only will the lack of knowledge produce abstract thinking, you can’t extrapolate the unknown either. It’s been the case with evil… leading to an array of unfounded beliefs.

A force or an entity?

While we know goodness when we see it, evidence therefore that goodness is real, and while its essence can be better described as a ‘force’ than an ‘entity‘, let’s imagine the concept of ‘good’ as being capable of injecting itself into an otherwise ’passive’ material world. However, as we have seen, not all things are receptive to this injection. In fact, only humans are… leaving all else in the universe still in its natural ‘passive‘ state.

However, as we have also seen, not all humans have made themselves receptive… humans have only the potential capacity. A healthy conscience is proof of this injection.

At this point, let’s keep in mind that since goodness obviously isn‘t an entity, then the contrary (evil) likely isn’t an entity either.

While everything physical (matter) is ruled by the laws of physics and happenstance (chaos), in such an environment there can be no guiding principles (of an ideal) unless somehow injected. Once these guiding principles become a reality, it produces the need to explain ‘the contrary’ and the thing most diametrically opposed is called evil.

Described in the dictionary as both a verb and noun, evil lacks classification… perhaps better understood if it were considered inanimate. Having no more standards to guide it than does a rock, evil, in effect, belongs to the realm of the inanimate (the material world). In other words, since evil isn’t an ‘ideal’ by any stretch of the imagination, it is on a par with all things inanimate.

On the other hand, goodness, to the extent humanly possible, is an ideal injected into the natural materialistic state of physics, passiveness and chaos.

Good and evil... of two different worlds

While good and evil reveal themselves only through deeds, their effects having varying life-spans, being either brief or lingering, they don’t operate on the same dimensional plane. After all, disregard is chaos (disorder) whereas regard is ‘order‘.

Having been separated in this manner, does that mean evil isn’t really anything, not an entity or force, that it’s just the ’absence of good’ after all? That science has been right all along?

Well, yes and no… it depends upon which dimension one prefers to think. However, without accounting for the ethereal dimension, thinking in the material dimension only produces material conclusions.

For instance, the reality of the natural (material) world is one of uncompassionate disregard, the circumstances and fates of our bodies not any different than those of animals. For all creatures, including humans, it is often a vicious and ugly fight for survival. The only thing that can alter this reality is goodness… but that belongs to the ethereal dimension. It is alien to this world because it isn’t of the same broth. It is the ‘invader’.

Now, since rocks, dirt and water are inanimate, incapable of having a conscience, nor do the bodies of the living contain one, not even the physical body of humans, which means everything physical, that’s one dimension. It’s the dimension of evil because, without ideals such as kindness and compassion, it’s a world of disregard, cruelty and unjustness. In this dimension then, ideals do not exist.

The other dimension is comprised of everything ethereal. Aside from God and the spirit world in general (whatever that entails), it includes our thoughts, dreams and whatever is sensed (heard, saw, felt, tasted, smelled). And, of course, it contains ideals.

So, does this rule out evil being caused by a devil (Satan)? Well, consider this… whatever is effectively real is often thought of in material terms.

For example, ‘government’ isn’t a physical thing either but we think of it in physical terms. Many such things are named as if they were physical… hence the tendency to think of evil as being 'represented'. That’s just the problem with languages though.

As to the actual case, eyeballs are real (one dimension) but eyesight is only effectively real (another dimension)… likewise is the difference between ears and hearing. Yet, our being, our very existence, depends as much on what is effectively real as it does on our tangible assets.

In the physical (material) dimension, whatever the senses sense are physically real (usually) but in the ethereal dimension whatever is effectively real has equal standing. In that dimension, those things which are effectively real are as real as a rock. Thoughts and ideas, for example, belong to the category of ‘effectively real’. It is a characterization of a dimension which science has overlooked.

Mankind has created for himself a physical outlook through his languages (semantics) which leads to the creation of words from that perspective. Languages have created the foundations upon which to think which in turn has led to the problems of defining evil.

So where does that leave us? After all, we’ve taken a look at evil from almost every angle. Well, not quite.

Free will

As things stand, depending on your dimension of thought, evil can be an entity, a force or nothing at all. Although, as explained, one’s dimension of thought may not necessarily reflect the truth of the matter.

The truth is, albeit only to the extent human terms allow, evil doesn’t exist on its own, only mankind can create it through ‘free will‘. Without the idea of ’good’, there can be no ’bad’. Within nature, there are no ’ideals’ whatsoever. Within nature, ‘crimes’ and ’disasters’ have no meaning… nor have any ‘moral’ or ‘ethical’ standings.

But wait… what about the horror and terror experienced by animals? Well, it’s the natural circumstance when there are no guiding principles. Suffering is 'natural' as well. However, if humans are to describe those terms as evil (whenever applicable), then evil is inherent to the material world… it goes with the territory. Only human goodness has some influence on this reality.

Still, the realities say we’ve been put in an impossible position in order to live the ‘perfect ideal‘… forcing mankind to dilute it in order to fit the material circumstances. After all, we must kill in order to eat and eat in order to survive (socially acceptable under the circumstances).

Summation

In light of all this, it seems to indicate ‘creating’ is all God intended… leaving it up to mankind to produce whatever goodness he can amongst the challenges. Besides, goodness can only be defined as such where evil exists.

A material world (consisting of matter) seems the only possible incubator and the challenges within it make earth the perfect proving grounds. While it’s the answer to the question as to why we‘re here (on earth), the greater question as to why God bothers is another matter.

So, in the end, a devil isn’t necessary when ‘free will’ exists. One is not needed. Therefore, the blame for evil falls on ’free will’… it is also the ‘force’ we’ve been looking for. It was within us all along.

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Or, some may prefer it said this way… that man is the only creature that possesses ’intent’ as opposed to animal instincts only. Another view is to look at evil as the ’result’… that it wouldn’t exist unless we existed. Understandably, both of these alternative perspectives avoid the arguable complexities of ’free will’. Of course, societies have different standards as to what is evil and what isn’t… but that’s another subject too.

Being that humans are both the force of good and evil should demonstrate, without a doubt, our godly attributes.

A.O. Kime

"The current evolutionary scenario of the origin of life is about as likely as the assemblage of a 747 by a tornado whirling through a junkyard" Fred Hoyle, famed astronomer

Matrix of Mnemosyne... the place of smoke signals from the spirit world

Last modified: 03/05/16