Evil = An intentional act or actor which you dislike enough to feel it needs to be eliminated, eradicated, extinguished or made totally impotent.

Evil taking form in Harry Potter

Calling something “evil” is more than just saying “I don’t like that at all!”.  The word “evil” also has a demonizing effect — it calls for public action.  Just as I wrote that the word “God” is often used to sanctifying that which we deeply value, so evil is used to demonize that which we abhor.  Both “sanctifying” and “demonizing” put the subject beyond debate, capitalize on a myriad of other emotions, and graft on meaning:  “Sanctifying” adds good ones, while “demonizing” add bad ones.

Like “God”, some folks abstract and concretize this notion of “evil” placing it in devils and demons.

The Vatican Newspaper (July 13, 2011) gave thumbs up to the recent Harry Potter film where Evil and Good are made clearly different and where evil is never attractive and always has consequences.

Question:  If you think “evil” can be described objectively please tell me how?

My related Posts:


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

35 responses to “Evil

  1. I have always taken the term ‘evil’ as necessarily demarcating where more objective notions such as ‘bad’ and ‘unappealing’ surrender to a dogmatic, extreme and arguably incoherent force.

    I’ve always disliked the term “evil” and can’t tell you the number of times I’ve said “I think people who appeal to the word ‘evil’ underestimate the power of ‘bad'” over the past few years in conversations.

    But I also try to remain humble, because I have never really been tested. Some people out there have had some genuinely messed up things happen to them, and perhaps can understand a realm of where things move beyond ‘bad’. To that end, I feel fortunate that I don’t understand ‘evil’.

  2. Cake is good, when considered within the scope of my taste buds, but if I increase my scope of consideration to include my waistline and general health, it is not good. But it is good for the employees of the bakery. But baking cakes creates a certain amount of pollution and uses up resources, so it is not good. – In order to declare something to be objectively ‘good’, one must also declare the scope of consideration used to evaluate the goodness. Since the evaluation changes as the scope expands, one must also declare the ‘weight’ of each consideration – how much do I value the immediate cake flavor over the long-term weight gain.

    Likewise, evil must be described in terms of scope of consideration and the values used to weigh each consideration. Most people don’t bother elaborating on scope and values, tacitly assuming that everyone uses the same scope and values that they use.

    It is like the mathematical concept of velocity vs speed. It may be useful to talk about the speed of an object, but if you want to rigorously define the motion of the object, you have to define both its speed and its direction.

  3. @ Sir Edmund

    Love the moniker, but your avatar look like you are in leotards and stretching your leg to get ready for a little jog, followed by a latte. Ooops, I see, it is a crane — but now the Sir Edmund doing Yoga is all I see. [FYI Readers, SE is a personal friend].

    On a serious note — that is exactly it: if you have something terrible happen to you or someone you love (FSM forbid), and your emotions rightfully get boiling, you may want to convince others to help you eradicate the intentional perpetrator/action and thus you will reflexively us the label “evil” [against your former judgement] so as to accomplish your goal. For it is highly effective and others may buy in to it if your present it correctly. Beware, the art of demonizing is not an easy art.

  4. “Evil” is like all words; defined by how it is used in context and in accordance with the social colloquialisms. The purist, Sir Edmund, will be forever frustrated by this, but I too happen to.side with a more purist view myself; that words have meanings and should be used with care.

    That said, I think “evil” is defined by the societal norms.

    Evil = an act or person which the overwhelming majority of a society can not regard as good or indifferent, and most often works against what the overwhelming majority of a society would view as good.

    It is, perhaps, the latter clause in that definition which holds the most weight in defining evil; an active offense against the good.

    The term society in the definition can be quite flexible, which can be quite dangerous given the visceral response and call to action against evil. At least that’s my silly opinion. :-p

  5. Temaskian

    Evil is zero empathy.

  6. I’m with Temaskian

  7. @ Temaskian & Zero1Ghost:
    (1) Autistic Folks ain’t evil
    Please see JSAllen’s post here about empathy.
    Like JS, I know people who have next to no empathy but do not do harm (at least not intentionally — we all do it occasionally). I think doing immensely harmful things to others does not necessitate lack of empathy either — that may follow doing harm repeatedly.

    (2) Using “Evil”
    I must not have written clearly, I was not asking for you to give your favorite definition of what qualifies for evil unless you could tell me your objective choice. See the other commenters. You just used “evil” the way I described. You used it to tell us what you think is abhorent. And, as #1 says, it may not be to everyone — parents and friends of autistic kids love them and don’t abhor them.

  8. no adjective can be objectively described.

  9. @ Tedkeys:
    Indeed, I agree. I love both of your analogies. Velocity and Direction are cool too.

    But you could have told us how
    a flute could be used as a weapon, a soothing instrument or accompaniment in brainwashing. It depends on how you value instruments. 🙂 (aluding to your website)

  10. @ Wisefool
    I don’t follow you when you say, “Words have meaning and should be used with care.” and that you are a “purist”.

    In any culture, there are many subcultures such that the use of “culture” is always very tenious. Consequently there are many different social norms with in a social order. I don’t think your definition works — it is the epidemological error of confusing a median, mean or some other arbitrary measure of average or majority for a real individual.

    But again, I wasn’t clear on your writing, I may have misunderstood.

    To help you see my perspective and thus form your rebuttal, you may wish to see these posts of mine:

    (1) Culture Does Not Exist
    (2) The Definition Myth

  11. @ Dew
    I think we are trying to discover what something really is and forgetting that we made it! Worse, as my post says, some folks turn the adjective into a NOUN (objectify it after they get tricked thinking the abstraction is real). Thanks for dropping in.

  12. oh, well i didn’t think about that. good point.

    Question: If you think “evil” can be described objectively please tell me how?

    there could be a sociological study done on the affect of certain actions. many say abortion is evil. the Freakanomics guy says no, not really. but then the scares and horror stories counter them.

    the genocides of Rwanda, Bosnia, Armenians, etc can be considered evil for those groups but it seems most others don’t care or like to red stories from them, like a diary of a young girl for instance, wonder how such a thing could happen and then move on to the next book.

    can evil be described objectively? no. words are subjective things describing our subjective experience. all we eventually do is go by majority opinion on things to declare them evil without any definition or exact method for measuring these things. all is abstraction. all things are ascribed different meanings by those who name it. evil included.

  13. Temaskian

    Appreciate the reference to JS Allen’s blog. Read the article and the comments. Excellent.

    There’s no way to be totally objective in describing evil, because it presumes certain moral values, and morals are not objective.

  14. @ Sabio
    Let me see if I can explain a little better. Your friend SE does not like to use the term “evil” because it carries with it an additional burden, if you will, beyond simply the word “bad.” At least that’s my take on his comment. I also suppose that many people use the word evil when they really just mean bad as well. Evil and bad are different, and have different definitions. Evil, as you mention here, seems to carry with it a demonizing effect, but I doubt you would say the same about the word bad.

    The Myth of Definitions is a great post, but, as with evil and bad, and horse, there are certain points and circumstances where we generally stick to a given definition for a word. Purists would favor a rigid definition, because then the meaning we try to convey is less subject to subjectivity.

    I get your point about culture, believe me, but there are still some points where cultural references are quite valid, especially as you whittle down to a smaller and smaller cultural unit. For example, a certain fundamentalist church congregation may be said to have a culture of intolerance for homosexuals. That does not necessarily mean every person at that church feels that way, but a majority of that congregation would agree with the anti-homosexual current because they have been taught it is God’s feeling on the matter.

    And that circles back to evil, and my definition. That same congregation may think that a support center which teaches that homosexuality is natural is evil, because they do not think it is good, nor can they be impartial about it because God’s says it is sinful, and having a support group like that may actually be promoting a homosexual lifestyle. What they have labeled as evil may not be evil to us at all.

    However, what if some deranged serial killer made a habit of blowing up maternity wards? Or how about con men who focus on swindling the last bit of savings from retired persons? I posit that there are some transgressions which would qualify as “evil” by the great mass of society, regardless of micro-cultural influence. 😉 However, what those transgressions are exactly is as difficult to pin down as is making a definition for what is “obscene.” So unfortunately you are forced to track back to a societal norm for judgement. I hope that helped explain my POV.

  15. @ The Wise Fool:
    Yes, the smaller the group, the easier it may be to make generalizations and have less out-liers.
    But you said,

    I posit that there are some transgressions which would qualify as “evil” by the great mass of society, regardless of micro-cultural influence.

    That seems a contradiction. Majority does not win. Communication happens when words are used with similar enough overlap and connotations.
    There is on societal norm! There is Law, which is the hegemony of the powerful. I don’t think that is bad, necessarily, but we should understand it for what it is.

  16. CRL

    My working definition of evil, which to me seems most objective definition possible, is that which purposefully causes human(?) suffering. Under this definition, something such as a natural disaster, which certainly causes suffering, would not count as evil, since it has no intent, and neither would a human who, by insanity or poor judgement, causes suffering unintentionally or while intending to do good. While I do not believe humans can be truly evil, since free will, comforting an idea as is it, is hard to support logically, and even allowing free will, there is some good in even the worst people, acts can certainly be evil. (Hate the sin, not the sinner.) In other words, Hitler=human, Holocaust=evil, Earthquake=nature, which cannot be judged good or evil.

    While we perhaps have to take the fact that suffering is bad and happiness is good on faith, I think most of humanity can agree to that, and accepting this as a sort of axiom of morality, I think my definition of evil is as objective as it can be. A few gray areas exist when we decide whether this axiom of morality extends beyond the boundaries of our species, but this is unrelated to the topic at hand.

  17. @ Crl,
    But you see, Crl, as Fool said above, we have the word “bad” for some of what you want.
    If you think Republican’s policies cause harm then you call them “Evil”, if you think Democrats policies cause harm, you call them “Evil”.
    Anyway, the point of this post is NOT to come up with a definition of Evil — unless one can show objective standards and an operational definition. I don’t think this can happen , because the word is used as a social rally cry to the same part of the brain that can rally around “God” — it is a manipulative word more than an informative word. People seek to define it, because, since it exists in language, it must be real. That is a mistake.

  18. @The Wise Fool

    Your take on my characterization might be somewhat misguided, but I’ll proceed by way of another minor point of disagreement.

    Evil and bad are different, and have different definitions. Evil, as you mention here, seems to carry with it a demonizing effect, but I doubt you would say the same about the word bad.

    Actually, I do not want to speak for Sabio, but I would say just that. “Bad” is very much meant as a demonizing term. “Fall in with the bad crowd”, “she is a bad seed”, etc. The (alleged) problem is that it is not an absolute, and so we see things like “the bad crowd” coming to mean “the cool crowd” when the perspective shifts from that of the concerned parent to that of the rebellious teenager. In this situation, the parent is rightly nervous about how the linguistic expression of their concern loses its meaning, as meaning often shifts with perspective. So what is a parent to do? Should they say “the evil crowd” and appeal to the absolute of an emotionally loaded term drilled into the head of the child? No, of course not. Since this concern is kept in the real world of empirical cause and effect, “the bad crowd” will (hopefully) display tangible bad traits that the child will come to see as genuinely bad, and then come to agree with the substance parent’s sentiment, which is actually beyond words to begin with. Tellingly, in this example it is easy to see how the more insecure a parent is, the more they would overuse superstitious terms to deflect difficult difficult and murky issues.. “Drugs are the work of the devil”; “girls are wicked temptresses (i.e. teenage sex)”, etc.

    So “evil” doesn’t demarcate from “bad” the demonization of something. Rather, “evil” is an appeal to an absolute in the face of the fear that “bad” will not be empirically evident to warrant such a demonization.

    Moving on to my main objection to your follow-up concern: evil does not signify an “additional burden” that bad does not take on; evil signifies breaking with rational discourse altogether because rational discourse is too overwhelming (or too uncertain, too controversial, too painful) to endure without appealing to the stuff of superstition.

    How could an “all truthful book” condemns the lifestyle of two perfectly nice, kind and decent neighbors who happen to be of the same gender? This is a point of genuine cognitive dissonance. Calling the neighbors “bad” will fail the test of empiricism. Calling them (excuse me, their actions *nudge-nudge*) “evil” is refusing to engage this test, because deep down the answer will cause a conflict of moral sentiments.

  19. *clap*, *clap*
    Well written, Sir Edmund.

    evil signifies breaking with rational discourse altogether because rational discourse is too overwhelming (or too uncertain, too controversial, too painful) to endure without appealing to the stuff of superstition.

    Loved that!

    I am not actually still really sure what position TWF wants to take. Seems he acknowledges the foibles of language but still wants *real* definitions of some sort. But I have a feeling I am not reading him right.

  20. @Sir Edmund
    My apologies for the mistake. Text is a difficult teacher.

    I would still venture to say that bad and evil are not of the same class, at least not commonly, or at least not how I understand the words “bad,” “evil,” and “demonizing.” You make a good point with your use of bad in the parent example, but that would appear to be a more special context. Let us say that a mom was disciplining her son in a public place, let’s say for grabbing a candy bar off a shelf. Would you hear these two statements the same way:
    “Bad boy!”
    – versus –
    “Evil boy!”

    I can’t speak for you, but I would not think much about a mother calling her son a bad boy for insubordination, but hearing a boy called “evil” would make me pause for sure, and have doubts of the mother.

    For your last example, you should know that I am no fan of that “all truthful book,” as you call it. But from that book’s perspective, we are all bad, because the perspective is based off of only perfection being good. So you and those same-sex neighbors are bad. 😉 At least according to the book.

    But let me press your example a little more. What if the neighbor couple (regardless of sexual orientation) were everything you could ever want out of neighbors. Polite, friendly, helpful, etc. But what if that couple secretly cheated on their taxes? OK, now what if they had instead robbed a bank? OK, now what if that couple had instead committed a murder? OK, now what if instead that couple has captured and tortured a number of the local children down in their basement? Is there a point where, despite all outward appearances and interactions with you, that you would label them as bad? Or, instead by the leaning of your example, if they seem to behave themselves in front of everyone else they are still good?

    Coming back to my definition, and with emphasis on the latter clause, it is the active attack on what is “good” which transforms an act from merely being bad to being evil, as I understand the word. The homosexual couple would not be considered evil by this definition, as they are not out attacking good things, like butterflies and babies. 😉 However, you do have a good point about the way some others use it when they lack rational discourse.

    There is a reason why you understand the words I write, or that you can even get close to their original intended meaning.

    “Communication happens when words are used with similar enough overlap and connotations. There is [no] societal norm! ”

    Isn’t that in and of itself a contradiction? :-p There is a norm which allows you to overlap in definition enough to make sense of all of this! A norm involves statistics, subliminal as they may be. Figuratively speaking, you’ve got a bell curve distribution of what a word means, or perhaps several bell curves for a given word in different contexts. The norm is what you expect the word to mean, and you mentally allow a standard deviation from that definition based on the norms of the culture and context within your experience.

    In terms of definitions, I think you may need to concede that majority does win, because it (cough) sets the norm. 😉 That’s why you know what LOL means.

  21. CRL

    I would argue that you can’t give an objective definition to any word, scientific terms perhaps excluded. (A mitochondrion is mitochondrion is a mitochondrion, whatever your “spin” is.) While evil, along with happiness, anger, goodness, and perhaps any word relating to emotion or morality, bad included, may be particularly hard to define, this does not make it an impossible task.

    I would say that there is a slight distinction between bad and evil:

    bad=causes human suffering
    evil=intentionally causes great human suffering.

    A hurricane is bad, but it cannot be called evil because it lacks intent.

    Again, this isn’t an truly objective definition, as no definition can be truly objective, but as far as I can tell, it comes as close as possible to predicting which acts a majority of humans will consider evil with a simple rule.

  22. “I can’t speak for you, but I would not think much about a mother calling her son a bad boy for insubordination, but hearing a boy called “evil” would make me pause for sure, and have doubts of the mother.

    This seems to dovetail with my point. The only thing that changes is the direction of the label. A mother who calls her son “evil” is doing the same metaphysical/pseudo-normative thing that a concerned but misguided parent would do when she calls her child’s a bad influence peer “evil” – placing them beyond redemption – only in this case it is directed toward her own son, for reasons that are obviously very dysfunctional. When “evil”-speak is used to keep her son away from the “bad crowd” it is misguided but understandable in terms of concern; but when her own son is “evil”…there is clearly something broken. This is the stuff of serial killer biography, frankly.

    As for your point about hypothetical secret behavior of homosexual neighbors. I’m really not sure I follow what you’re getting at here. Of course anyone could be not what they seem. Yes, they would be bad if it turns out that they do things that make them bad. And?
    The point is that their homosexuality is incidental to this, and until it is discovered that they are torturing children, etc. they are on the same “good” footing as everyone else. How we consider this tentative goodness is another question, but lets not confuse the issue at hand (re. “evil”) or distract from it. If you take what I say to heart about “evil”, then potentially bad has nothing to do with “evil”, unless perhaps one wishes to use the emotionally charged nature of uncertainty to sneak in nonsense words like “evil” to make premature judgments.

  23. @ Sir Edmund (&TWF)
    I agree that it is this “normative” effort that is key. It is ironic that the word “normative” contains TWF’s favorite word “norm”. “Normative”, as used by Sir Edmund, is talking about trying to establish influence and persuasion. You see, TWF, it is important to understand *how* Brandon is using his words. We can fight about what the word *actually* means later. But if we agree to use it different than any given dictionary, it will work for us. And later if enough folks who write dictionaries like our use, they may add it to their dictionary. It is all influence and politics.

    @ TWF
    It seems we disagree. My post “Does Culture exist” may illustrate our differences. Instead of “culture”, substitute “the norm” or “the majority” — your favorite terms. Our two different perspective (if we really understand each other) can actually result in different political/policy philosophies. Or it may be the other way around that our policy preferences drive our position on words.

    Another possibility is that you just don’t yet understand my point or the math. Or you do, and disagree.

    @ CRL
    I agree that we can get a lot of people to sit around and agree on a definition and put it in a book and call it a dictionary. That dictionary could be used by government controlled schools (sorry, public schools) and all students be made to use the word the same way in their essays.

    But if a sub-culture starts to use the word “bad” to mean “amazing, cool, or such” instead of “naughty” [“the movie was totally bad”], the word will now pick up different uses even if the majority of the total population does not agree. The only people who have to agree are the ones using it. No magic number is needed. After 12 years in Asia, on returning to the USA, I was surprised by many new uses of words, “bad”, “whatever” and newly coined words. People’s conversations puzzled me often. That plus new nuances (from TV shows I had never seen or commercial) made jokes work that were apparent nonsense to me.

    CRL, I notice you did not comment on my post of “The Definition Myth“, but that short post restates my opinion on this issue.

    Don’t get me wrong, sure I use words hoping others use them the same way I do, but I am ready to change words or usage if I see they don’t work as I expected.

    Finally: Many Christians see “evil” to mean “intentionally going against Jehovah’s commands”. [remember, for them, God defines ‘good’] And if God wants to wipe out a homosexual-tolerant town, that by definition is good, and trying to twart God is evil.

    Their definition differs from yours — unfortunately. Such is the politics of Words. These may be subtle differences in our understandings but I feel they are important.

  24. @Sabio & @Sir Edmund
    I feel this would be a much easier conversation over tea and biscuits than through internet comments. 😉 Some things are just better hashed out in person, especially when nuance is important like here. So I’ll make one more brief stab at this topic, but thanks for sharing your opinions either way.

    When I speak of a cultural “norm,” it is in the sense of statistically observable patterns, which by definition are real. Ref http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norm_(sociology)

    A precise analogy can be found from mathematics. Taking an average of two different numbers will yield a third number. This third number does not equal either of the two original numbers, yet still is representative of those two numbers.

    In the same way, there are cultural norms regardless of whether or not you can one (or more) people which perfectly fit that norm description in all traits. In the sense which no exactly matching “normal” person may be found, I would agree with you culture is a myth. But in the way in which norms are actually defined, I respectfully disagree.

    @Sir Edmund
    I wonder, do you hold the same distaste for the word “wicked” that you do for the word “evil?” In my perspective of how I most usually see “evil” used and defined, it is more akin to the word “wicked” than simply the word “bad.”

  25. I don’t know how I missed this. Good discussion!

    Like most people here, I think that “good and evil” are quite vague and subjective. And, as Derrida said, the two words depend partly on one another for their definition.

    I think it’s really important to have a firm handle on these words, since we use them so heavily in many philosophical arguments, but I don’t think I have reached that point yet.

    Two examples of cases where ambiguity in these words causes problems:

    Finally: Many Christians see “evil” to mean “intentionally going against Jehovah’s commands”. [remember, for them, God defines ‘good’] And if God wants to wipe out a homosexual-tolerant town, that by definition is good, and trying to twart God is evil.

    Exactly — some Christians grab one horn of the Euthyphro Dilemma, while some Christians grab the other. A summary of the dilemma could be, “Is something good because God wills it, or does God will it because it’s good?”

    For example, when God surveyed the creation in Genesis and “saw that it was good”, what does that mean? Does it mean that creation was “good” because it conformed to God’s arbitrary preferences when he created? Or does it mean that creation actually was good in some way that was independent of God’s will?

    The Bible is infuriatingly ambiguous on this issue, so Christians are forced to grab one horn or the other, or just ignore the problem. In fact, I suspect that the majority of Christians will opportunistically waffle between both positions depending on what is most convenient to win an argument.

    The second example would be the “Problem of Evil”, which is considered by many people to be the best philosophical argument for atheism. The argument says that a perfectly good and omnipotent God would not allow gratuitous evil to exist in the world. But to make this argument, we need to have some coherent definition of “good” and “evil” — the entire argument depends on it. All of the back-and-forth over the PoE seems to be people bickering about what “good” and “evil” truly mean.

  26. BTW, I had to stop calling people “evil”, since they take it incredibly personally. Multiple times, I found myself being puzzled at a reaction, and explaining, “No, it’s no big deal. I didn’t say that you were more evil than me! In fact, I complimented you! The Bible clearly says that every intention and thought of man is continually evil, so I was just saying that you’re a human — sheeeeesh, stop being so emotional!”

    LOL, I just had to banish that word from my vocabulary. Silly emotional people!

  27. My ‘definition’ of evil is when someone causes harm, they know they are causing harm, and yet they have some kind of twisted logic that justifies their causing harm. They may think something life, “The world is so screwed up and yet I have the power to hurt people and it is good that I hurt them because I show them how wrong they are. A great example is the Joker from the last Batman movie, “The Dark Night.”

    Having said that, my definition of evil allows for change; this evil is only a temporary state, and with the right circumstances and effort a person can see through their confusing ways and learn to live with dignity and kindness.

  28. @ Craig,
    I saw another site which asked everyone their definition of “evil” — there were many. And if we asked folks who or what they thought was evil, we’d have large variety.
    The point of this blog is to get behind that and seed the politics of our words.

    @JS Allen
    Yes, I am not actually concerned with the definition of evil in this post. And I am certainly not concerned about if their is a god who is constrained by whatever definition a few people may agree on. But I did find your ironic banishment of evil from your vocabulary because it caused harm to others to be humorous. Thanx.

  29. @ Fool,
    I will try to address what as I see as pivotal to our difference in an up-coming post. Thanx for the post-fodder! 🙂

  30. @ The Wise Fool,
    I just posted on The Ecological Fallacy which I think addresses some of your issues of looking for the “norm”.

  31. @Sabio
    “Indeed, all elementary statistics stuff. So, if you will go back my post on EVIL, you will see that you declared a “norm for society” as a standard. I was accusing you of making a homogenization error: either ecological fallacy or faulty generalization fallacy. If you wish, you can go back to that post and discuss the issue there, we could. (I’d prefer not to discuss on this thread).”

    Forgive me for not knowing the name, but if this is what you had in mind as a defense, I think you are guilty of another kind of fallacy. Comparing income analysis with behavioral trend analysis is like the cliche apple and orange, only similar in that they are fruit, only similar in that they utilize statistics.

    Consider that if I were to ask you what color of choice for a wedding dress in the United States, you would be accurate to say white. In China, it would be red. Does that mean that all brides choose a color consistent with the norm? No. My wife didn’t. Yet, statistically, the majority do.

    Income is in a completely different category of data because it is abstract. By abstract, I mean you can take an average and come up with a number which does not truly represent the population in an accurate way, as your example in your other post points out so well.

    However, social normals are more real, even if less precise. If the majority favor the color red and a large minority favors the color blue, you can’t average it out and say that the most favorite color is purple. You have to instead say that the normal favorite color is red, and realize that a portion of the population (some amount less than 50%) will not favor red despite it being the norm.

    Coming back to evil (and perhaps definitions in general), as a social device, its definition must follow the norm in the general sense, but that does not mean that other definitions aren’t out there.

    “Evil,” by the norm, represents something worse than bad. If bad is the only word in your arsenal to describe everything from getting a hangnail to 9/11, then bad is too generalized to have the desired impact for all occasions.

    Perhaps, as Sir Edmund suggests, “evil signifies breaking with rational discourse altogether because rational discourse is too overwhelming,” but might I also say that “evil” is being used there then because “bad” is just not bad enough, that the word “bad” is just not doing justice to the anguish and disgust being felt?

  32. @TWF:
    I am not sure we have communicated effectively with each other. I can’t tell if you understand what I am emphasizing, and it appears that you feel I have errors in my thinking which aren’t hearing your attempts to correct me. So I will let it rest.

  33. I’m not sure if they are truly errors or just differences, but fair enough. 🙂

  34. @TWF:
    That reminds me of a comparison of Japanese & English:

    “Do you live in Tokyo?” ==> “No, I live in Kyoto”.
    [Tokyo in living ? ==> different, Kyoto is.]
    In Japanese, they do not usually say, “wrong” or “no”, just “different”.

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