The Knowledge of Good and Evil; A Rant

(Below is a rambling, ill-edited rant regarding evil. I seem to have spent myself, however, in search of some conclusion. It stands where it stands, a series of thoughts as they came to me.)

Let us consider the most evil thing. What occurs to me, for ensample, is the torturing of a child for the amusement and pleasure of another. This may or may not be the most evil thing, but whatever is peak evil, let us consider it. Imagine it, something you know is vile and wrong, and is the most vile and most wrong thing. Have it in your mind? What do you feel about it? Imagine it strenuously. What does it invoke inside of you?

I think most of us can do this exercise, which is horrible. It is nearly unfathomable the depravities the mind can create, can imagine. And we, the authors of evil, can do this.

But how do we know it is evil?

I do not question that it is evil, but I wonder how we know. How do we know that what we know is true? How is it that we can create these evils in our mind and yet know them to be evil? It seems some part in us must be evil to even understand what evil is: we can bring evil out of our own self and recognize it as abominable, but it is a part of our self. What if that part overtakes the whole? What if that part is destroyed?

I have heard some deny the existence of evil, but do not believe they truly hold such convictions. Only the educated, the poorly educated, could say such things. Unfortunately, this materialist sewage is the mystery meat fed to schoolchildren.

But how do we know something to be evil; more precisely, when we know something to be evil, what is it we know?

On the material level we know that either long or short term consequences make the action untenable. But such a statement is only a façade for what we know, an afterthought, an explanation, a rationalization of what we already knew. No one sees a villain and thinks to himself, “What that man is doing will have negative repercussions on him and society at large.” Whereas such a statement may be true, and may indeed be why the action was evil, can it be said to be why we know it to be evil?

How do we recognize what is evil?

It is obvious that the organ in man which recognizes evil can go wrong, and it seems obvious that two people, both possessed of a mostly sound understanding of evil, may disagree upon certain issues.

So, we understand evil rationally, but in such a beggarly way that all the premises and conclusions must eventually find their root in some irrational gut knowledge. That gut knowledge itself can go wrong, and two healthy “guts” can disagree.

And my question: When they disagree, or when they go wrong, on what ground can these organs be fixed? Rationality? But even an evil man can reason; a sophist can explain why evil is good. I reject the moral relativity of my generation which seeks to sidestep the issue, for there are certain inconsistencies within the position, inconsistencies not necessarily with its logic but in its inhumanity, in the fact that it stands opposed to the observable world, must stand opposed, must say that we are deluded when we speak of good or evil.

Between two people of functioning moral organs, rationality may be the only proper intercourse. In the situation of a failed moral organ, rationality, itself dependent upon such moral principles as truth, may want some other treatment.


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