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← Book Review: On Evil by Terry Eagleton

legal9ball's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by legal9ball

Though I'm now an atheist, my notion of eivl was first devoloped in my Catholic upbringing.  The nearest I could come to pinning them down on the topic was in the definition of "grave sin" (formerly "mortal sin").  This is a state of being that one can definitely acheive.  Furthermore, if you don't repent, and cease being this way, you will go to hell. Hell, the current pope has just reminded us, is a real place where you really go to really suffer for all eternity. 

Hell is presided over by an evil being called Satan.  It is a place where evil people go to receive their eternally just punishment.

The definition of grave sin is interesting.  It is a knowing rejection of that which you know to be best for you, i.e., god.

In that sense, evil can be understood as a state of being wherein you are against your own best interest, against your very own self.  It is, in essence, self-betrayal.

In this sense, evil simply can't exist.  Human nature is incapable of betraying itself.  It takes two for treachery and one person's is only one.  It's paradoxical even to think of your self as against itself.  It requires a good judger to judge one as bad.

When we think of someone else as evil, we also think this way. We think of them as knowingly being a way that is bad for anyone to be, including the evil doer herself.   In this way we think of them as betraying themselves.

We also tend to think that evil can force us to betray ourselves.  Much like a demonic possession.  This, in turn, gives rise to the need to destroy evil and evil doers, like the infidels in the tower, or the christ killers.

It seems to me that the faithfully held belief in the existence of evil, or in man's ability to betray himself, is the very source of the most destructive choices a man can make. It also gives rise to a need for protection against one's self.  That's a job for religion and for god.

Sun, 16 May 2010 16:58:51 UTC | #470567