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Sweet Rose Ramblings (AKA The Call-Waiting Blog)

A place for my unformed thoughts. Help me sort them out!

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Extent of Evil

This article seems to find some kind of hope in knowing that people can be made to do evil acts. I don't see it that way at all. I find the experiments described evil and horrible, and they scare me because, maybe naively, I do like to think that people are good and these kind of experiments show that with the right influence (and it doesn't seem to take that much), most people can be convinced to hurt others, without even receiving reward for it. I don't see much hope in that.


At April 16, 2007 7:26 PM, Blogger Irina Tsukerman said...

I think people are capable of doing evil acts and good acts. However, I think that some people will do so under certain circumstances, and others won't no matter what. Each person is very individual, and I think it's practically impossible to predict how people will actually act under pressure until they are there.

At April 16, 2007 11:32 PM, Anonymous RCF said...

I dont understand why you would think people are inherently good. What evidence is there for that? To me it seems that one's goodness is a function of how one is raised and then depends on one's choices. Inherently good? is that like being inherently tall, white, or female? Its genetics you say? The idea of being inherently good greatly detracts from the worth of human beings because it implies that we do not choose to be good but and are simply programmed robots. Or perhaps animals...and if were inherently good, how is there evil in the world? I dont think you were saying that, though that is the implication. I find it hard to see your view point from life experience also and i certainly dont think its the Torah's view...but thats my opinion

At April 17, 2007 9:16 AM, Blogger Shoshana said...

Irina -
It's true that you can't accurately predict what a person would do until they are actually in the situation. I often wonder how I would actually act if given the challenge of certain circumstances.

You bring up a couple points here. The first is that I wasn't necessarily saying that being inherently good is part of genetics, I was saying that I like to think that it's part of being human. It's not that some people are inherently good and some people are inherently bad, like they are blue-eyed or brown-eyed. I like, and hope, that part of the human condition is that to be human is to want to be good. But, there are definitely those who make this difficult to believe.

I do hear what you are saying in that if we are inherently good, then our free will is taken from us in regards to the choice to be good. It's an excellent argument and one I'm not quite sure whether I can counter.

At April 21, 2007 11:08 PM, Blogger Chana said...

I wanted to thank you so much for linking to the study. It's fascinating, but aside from being unethical, it's subjective and prejudiced (due to the social psychologist's involvement in the procedure.) More than anything else, it reminds me of a Holocaust book most of us have had to read called 'The Wave.' In this book, a man uses students to create a Nazi structure and similar to what happened here, is only stopped when children protest what he is doing to their classmates. If you haven't read it, you might enjoy the similarities.


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