The Real Problem of Evil is Thinking Evil's a Real Problem

The idea that people can be completely evil and have no redeeming qualities, extenuating circumstances, or core humanity at all … That is the only place where true evil lies. The belief that some people are “evil” makes it easier for us to write them off, dehumanize them, destroy them, cease helping them. The idea of evil makes misbegotten moral righteousness possible, and justifies all manner of aggressive and hateful acts.

Sociopathy and antisocial personality disorder are just a repackaging of the age-old concept of pure unredeemable evil. It’s morality-driven dehumanization dressed in a clinical psychologist’s coat.

It is comforting to believe that people commit heinous acts because they are henious monsterous people. Such thinking protects us from wondering if we are capable of committing evil acts, if we are hateful and destructive. It also implies that ending suffering in the world is not a matter of slowly and constant reforming all our hearts and minds; it’s simply a matter of finding all the bad eggs and scrambling them.

The concept of sociopathic evil absolves us from doing the hard work of reforming criminals, remedying the precursors to crime, and examining the morality of our own actions. It is much easier to cast off the malicious as evil, disordered, defective, inhuman, exceptional, than it is to turn such a critical gaze upon ourselves.

By accepting the idea that “some people are just evil”, we resign ourselves to an overly simplified worldview where wrongs cannot be prevented, only punished, and where there is no broader societal responsibility for the sins of society’s children.

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A thousand times more lethal than bourgeoisie law is bourgeoisie morality.

The first physically protects the oppressor. The second goes far beyond that: It conditions you to love the oppressor, to protect their legitimacy and their legacy, to respect their epistemology and their way of knowing the world, to uphold their humanity, to indeed make their humanity the ONLY humanity worthy of life while it rapes, pillages, and murders the oppressed. It is this sort of morality, which upon an oppressor’s passing, can decontextualize an entire history of oppression for the sake of mourning your enemies’ death when it should be understood as an inevitable conclusion to a life of facilitating violent oppression.   

Over and over the past few months we have heard:

Respect the dead cop who serves the murderous institution of policing.

No, I will not. 

Respect the white supremacist who makes white America laugh.

No, I will not. 

Respect the so-called journalist who popularizes Islamophobia and gives moral teeth to imperialism.

No, I will not. 

Respect, at least, the right of bigots to be bigots shrouded in the sloganisms of free speech. 

No, I will not. 

Such respect would be subscribing to bourgeoisie morality and would make me a conduit of bourgeoisie violence. I understand that. I think far to many of you so-called leftists do not. 

Brain scans reveal how people ‘justify’ killing

A new study has thrown light on how people can become killers in certain situations, showing how brain activity varies according to whether or not killing is seen as justified.

The study, led by Monash researcher Dr Pascal Molenberghs, School of Psychological Sciences, is published today in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.

Participants in the study played video games in which they imagined themselves to be shooting innocent civilians (unjustified violence) or enemy soldiers (justified violence). Their brain activity was recorded via functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while they played.

Dr Molenberghs said the results provided important insights into how people in certain situations, such as war, are able to commit extreme violence against others.

“When participants imagined themselves shooting civilians compared to soldiers, greater activation was found in the lateral orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), an important brain area involved in making moral decisions,” Dr Molenberghs said.

“The more guilt participants felt about shooting civilians, the greater the response in the lateral OFC. When shooting enemy soldiers, no activation was seen in lateral OFC.”

The results show that the neural mechanisms that are typically implicated with harming others become less active when the violence against a particular group is seen as justified.

“The findings show that when a person is responsible for what they see as justified or unjustified violence, they will have different feelings of guilt associated with that – for the first time we can see how this guilt relates to specific brain activation,” Dr Molenberghs said.

The researchers hope to further investigate how people become desensitised to violence and how personality and group membership of both perpetrator and victim influence these processes.

Feeling bad about oneself does not make one a better person. Sometimes we seem to think that it would be worse to do something wrong and not feel guilty, than to do something equally wrong but feel guilty about it, as if guilt makes us morally superior, as if it could purify us or redeem us in some way. It is unclear to me how guilt could have such effects. How bad one feels about oneself does not seem to be very relevant; what is important, instead, is repentance or regret: the desire to have acted differently, the intention to repair the damage done, and the determination that in the future one will not act similarly. While regret focuses on action (e.g., I did something wrong), guilt focuses on oneself (e.g., I am a bad person). Repentance is useful: it motivates one to remedy wrongs and not fall into the same mistake again. Guilt is impractical: by keeping the focus on oneself, it contributes to the reification of our negative qualities (e.g., I am selfish), and becomes an obstacle for imagining oneself differently, and for changing one’s behaviour, since we seem to adapt our behaviour to the idea that we have formed about ourselves.

If a girl wants to plump her lips, it may be because she likes how it looks on her, not because she is trying to copy or appropriate another culture. I know European ethnic persons with naturally plump lips just as I have seen with Hispanics and Australian Aborigenese to name a few.

If a girl wants to wear a headdress because she thinks it is beautiful, so be it. Egyptians and Europeans wore headdresses, Christians have worn headcoverings, Indian, Arab, and African cultures have worn headscarves. The idea of putting something on your head, whether it’s a hat or a scarf, isn’t new.

What is wrong is making fun of another culture. But today we live in a world where many are sitting on the edge of their seats, ready to jump up and scream “racist!” “sexist!” or other terms implying offense. Truth is, sometimes we like things because of the way they are, not because they “belong” or “don’t belong” to any particular group of people.

For a five-month period that ends this week, every single elected Republican in Congress was a white Christian.

Let me repeat that: every elected GOP Member of the House and Senate was a white Christian.

Eric Cantor is Jewish. He left office on August 1 last year. Since then, the entire elected GOP caucus, in both the House and the Senate, has comprised only white Christians.

13 percent of America is African-American. 9 percent is of mixed race. 5 percent is Asian. 24 percent does not identify itself as Christian. 0% of those groups served as elected Congressional Republicans during the past five months.

Variety is the spice of life. I strive for an America where you can be all that you can be, regardless of where you’re from, what you look like, what language you speak, and whom you love.

Reach into your pocket. Take out a coin, any coin. On it, you will find the Latin words “E Pluribus Unum.” Which means, “Out of many, one.”

That’s my America. That’s America.
—  Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fl.)
More simply put, environmental problems are problems of morality, not economics. Economics reasoning is all very well, so far as it goes, but it is one-dimensional, focusing on individual rational choice, and how rational choices can be summed to the common advantage. Game theory, the theory of the market, the theories of preference ordering and social choice – all have addressed the question encapsulated in the tragedy of the commons. And those disciplines have finely illustrated the difficulties the impede co-ordination when we try to adjust our choices to the sparse information that we might have about the choices of others.

People who think that our morality is all about big grand principles rather than emotions should try playing a video game. Most people I’ve talked to about this have a hard time with things like killing “innocent” people in games, and feel compelled to do “good” things in the game. I certainly do. I recognize that this is fundamentally irrational, but it’s also a really useful reminder that my sense of right and wrong probably comes from my automatic emotional responses to things, and if those responses aren’t in accordance with my higher-order values, I’ll have to intentionally work on that.

This is a totally random rant but I am so against circumcising babies. If a twenty something year old wants to get himself circumcised for religious or “health” reasons, go for it. But cutting an infant in a way that will affect him for the rest of his life is so freeking wrong. Allow your child to make those sort of decisions for themselves.

Question about sacred values...

Can anyone explain to me why they’re bad? With an example that doesn’t involve a supposedly sacred value that’s causally connected to the supposedly secular one?

Like, the standard example is something like money vs. human lives but… if the actual trade was “some quantity X of money with which I am absolutely not allowed to save any lives” vs. “saving one life,” I will always choose the life. Like, lives feel like a sacred value to me, that are only tradeable for secular values because there is a causal chain that can trade one for the other, and once that chain is severed (however artificially), it suddenly doesn’t feel intuitive at all that they’re commensurable.

anonymous asked:

Hi, I've been wondering for a while about how different types develop their sense of morality/ethics. I know the difference between Fi and Fe, but would it make a difference where the feeling function fell in someone's functional stack? Like, would an EXFJ have a different process of developing their morality from an IXTP? Or an EXTJ from an IXFP? I realize this could maybe turn into a long post, sorry. If you wanna save this for later or refer me to someone else, that's fine. :-) Thank you!

No problem!

As far as average health morals go:

Fe: Focus on other people, morals revolving around other people on a case by case basis
Fi: Focus on oneself and how one feels, universal, one size fits all morals

SFJ: A lot of ambiguity, if twisting the morals is what seems right at the moment, helping these people, it is right.

NFJ: A lot of ambiguity, but different. Any means justify this end. Long term.

IxTP: Morals are irrelevant. I like understanding but I don’t want to interact much. I prefer to avoid talking about this whenever possible.

ExTP: Morals aren’t important, but entertaining, sometimes I like twisting and bending morals to suit what I want.

NFP: Always stay true to oneself. No matter what. Don’t let anything change how you feel about this, it’s either right or wrong.

SFP: Make sure to always do what you personally believe is right, at that moment. If it what is best for you right now, it is right.

NTJ: Morals are not usually necessary to achieve goals, but sometimes you need morals to even realize what you want in life. Morals when you can, but logic and the plan takes precedence.

STJ: Morals are usually necessary to uphold what has been done, but sometimes morals are part of the foundation of things and need to be taken into consideration. Morals when it applies, but you have to ignore morals when trying to uphold what is important.