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Evil In Humanity -- The Common Interest Within Us As Motive (And Philosocom's Directory on Evil)

Updated: Apr 7

A gang of zombies dining

(For more Evil, here are some articles:

"Why are we so judgemental when it comes to matters of morality? It all seems so ambigious. Evil deeds are done daily in the name of a 'greater good', so hold back the moral judgements, they seem unwarranted in the practical reality of our lives" -- John Duran


Rethinking Self-Interest in a Connected World

It was that I realized that there is a very thick connection between evil and self-interest. The more you put yourself above others, the likelier it is that you'll commit evil acts, which are basically actions that serve you at the expense of others.

“Illegitimate” self-interest, on the other hand, is expressed in the form of deceit, coercion and violence—seeking their own benefit, people enrich themselves at the expense of those around them. This type of self-interest is usually condemned, and often illegal."

Of course, this is a very broad definition, because egotistical pursuits, such as self-care and even beautification (shaving, putting on make-up) can technically be not evil at all. Ego thus leads to much evil, but it is not inherently evil.

Nevertheless, when we put our own self-interest over the dependency on or cooperation of others, that is when evil has the potential to occur. When the one known as Ms. Chen called me irrelevant, she did so even though she knew I meant no harm and that I wanted her as a connection in my life. The fact that she saw me as disposable, despite my own consideration and history, is borderline, if not entirely, evil. That is because seeing people as expendable allows us to treat them like tools and not like humans.

How Evil Is Effected by Choice

In Star Wars, we see the Empire as the personification of evil in that universe, for it is meant to rule through fear, intimidation and tyranny on a countless-world authoritarian regime. In the Imperial ranks, everything and everyone is disposable, from troops to spaceships to Darth Vader himself in the sixth movie, as the emperor wanted another servant in lieu of Vader.

The stormtroopers, who serve as the Imperial elite shock troops, were expected to show full loyalty towards the emperor by overcoming their own individual needs and identities. Whether they are to be sacrificed or not, they cannot be reasoned with as their reasoning was brainwashed in favor of the Empire. While they can choose to betray, their brainwashed mentality largely prevents them from doing so.

Hitler's evil is when he is not ready to come clean and openly admit that he made mistakes that he needs to pay for through retribution and punishment. Much bloodshed had been made by him, and he lacked the heroic courage, the "good" courage, to atone through trial; to admit defeat. By killing himself in his bunker (nowadays an ordinary parking lot), he disposed of the lives of the people whom he sacrificed for his goals. The blood of his brainwashed population will not be avenged by a responsibility he did not take.

Thus, he was evil not only to his enemies but also to the people he led -- by leading his nation, and the entire world, to unnecessary ruin and death. He refused to undergo any redemption, and thus he resorted to "mortal escapism" and let the war go to hell in his mortal absence. It weren't the crimes he committed that made him evil in that regard.

After all, Augusto Pinochet, the deceased Chilean dictator, is considered a hero by many even though he committed terrible crimes too. But unlike Hitler he was kicked from office through a national referendum, was partially under arrest, and did not escape from his punishments via suicide, instead dying by a heart attack in 2006.

We can learn from Pinochet's example that evil, like good, can be compromised and thus altered, even though the past cannot. The ultimate way to do so is to not resort to suicide when facing charges for misdeeds.

Heroism and villainy are not the same as good and evil. Ms. Chen, who disposed of me, is a hero in her own story, and I, in said story, am but a minor antagonist that kept coming back during the years we have known each other.

In other words, beyond the objectivity of obvious crimes and other misdeeds (like murder), one's hero is another villain, and vice versa, regardless of their moral alignment. Since she told me, in our final conversation, that I didn't do anything wrong. She was someone who just wants to have other people in her life. There is no evil, after all, in wanting to see other people. It is the wonder of adulthood, to be able to choose the people in your life, regardless of the results of our actions.

It all lies in the seemingly eternal conflict between self-interest and egotism over loyalty, love, unity, and brotherhood, that defines evil. If you are ready to "put a knife" in the back of your most loyal friends and family, over something such as power, money, and so on, then you are technically evil, at least now that the backstabbing has been done.

On the contrary, if you put your own self-interest below of friends, family, and your country, then you are either a good person, a "hero," or even both. However, let us not forget that Nazi Germany's hero was obviously Hitler, even if his heroism led his nation into inevitable doom. Then, at least according to the Nazi perspective, Hitler was either a coward or a "tragic hero" who failed his mission against the "evil" of the "lesser" "races".

Aristotle defined the tragic hero as one that is a noble (or "virtuous"). The uncanny irony cuts deep should we see things from the lens of a Neo-Nazi, and realize that the first name "Adolf" means "noble wolf". If all subjective experiences hold equal quality of realness to them, then even the most evil of people could be accepted by some as good.

This is how perspectives can be dangerous to the norms of a society, but I digress.

Towards a World Where We All Matter

Finally, a note. We can never overcome this eternal conflict between good and evil if there is no total unity. a total identity of "I" and "We" together. It is in division that conflict arises. A total unity, in the form of humanity as a universal identity, is when we can say that we are one and that everyone cares for everyone else.

However, that is far, far from actualization, and I'm not sure if it will ever be, if there is nationalism, elitism, racism, and separate collective identities with no common recognition as a greater, unitary whole of something like "earthlings" or "human earthlings": A whole that transcends difference of any kind, at least on that recognizable level of being.

The world as it is now, is a massive collection of self-serving entities, whether they are corporations, countries, or any other independent collective bodies. Even if there are altruistic people in the world, the former cannot be avoided.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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