Saturday, August 01, 2009

Evil- The Definition

When I use the word "evil" I am referring to any act which intentionally harms any person who isn't currently initiating force or violating private property; harms someone who does not deserve to be harmed at this moment*.

Philip Zimbardo, in The Lucifer Effect, defines it thusly: “Evil consists in intentionally behaving in ways that harm, abuse, demean, dehumanize, or destroy innocent others—or using one’s authority and systemic power to encourage or permit others to do so on your behalf.” So he includes the use of (imaginary) "authority" to influence others to be evil under his definition of evil. I agree.

(*An innocent person. No one is innocent all the time, nor is anyone never innocent. All you can do is judge their innocence or guilt at this moment.)



  1. Interesting perspective. I like how you create your own dictionary or definitionary. What or how would you propose greed to mean.

  2. I think "greed" is basically "self-interest with regard to physical things". This is not bad in any way, no matter what some people may believe.

    However, when you twist that "self-interest with regard to physical things" to where you value it enough to steal, defraud, and/or murder, then that is where you did the evil act- the greed itself isn't evil.

    Everyone is greedy- even those who do altruistic things- otherwise they wouldn't survive. It's how you express that greed that can be the problem.

  3. Your use of the immediate precludes punishment for any past wrong doing. A judge/jury is then evil because they harm a criminal by forcing incarceration on them.

    1. I am not a fan of "punishment", seeing it as revenge rather than justice. Also, imprisonment doesn't help victims. Don't punish people on my behalf.