11 August 2011

Wicked or evil?

I advise you to go there and marvel at the elegant takedown by Norm of the quote below (Terry Eagleton):

What happened on both occasions [September 11 1973 in Chile and September 11 2001 in the US] was a moral obscenity and wicked, but it was not, in a technical sense, evil. There is a distinction between evil and wickedness. It is wicked to destroy innocent people for one's political ends, as Al Qaeda did that day in New York and the United States has done in Vietnam, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and countless other places around the world. For an act to be evil, however, means that the destruction must be done simply for the hell of it - for the sheer obscene pleasure of the thing, rather than for some functional end.
Meanwhile I'll stay here in the dark, wondering why Norm's decided to skip some fishy moral equivalence points. I guess he had his reasons.

P.S. I would still have to see an act of destruction where the perpetrator didn't have any "functional end" to present. Even a lunatic "functional end" counts, I dare say. Because to judge lunacy is a whole other domain.

P.P.S. My ever-present World Web dictionary (version 5.5.2 if you absolutely have to know) defines "wickedness" as one of the synonyms for "evil". Oh well.


Pisa said...

Isn't pleasure a functional end, too? ("functional end" is the esoteric philosophical denomination for the mundane "goal", isn't it?)

I wouldn't want to live in a world were pleasure isn't a functional end, philosophical or otherwise.

Dick Stanley said...

Clearly a distinction without a difference. Sheesh.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

I am afraid that pleasure seeking being one of our basic instincts, it will be difficult to define as a consciously chosen "functional end".

Unless one redefines pleasure, of course. For instance, define solving differential equations as pleasure and the sky is your limit...

SnoopyTheGoon said...

I guess so.

Pisa said...

I'm no philosopher, thank Gawd, but to me it seems that fulfilling our basic instincts is in itself a functional end. That would be survival, if I'm not mistaken. Of course the terrorists give the word "survival" a whole new twisted meaning, but hey, who are we to judge people who do things "for the hell of it"? (wouldn't "for the paradise of it" be more appropriate in this particualr case?)

Ach, differential equations! To be honest, I liked solving integrals more. Really, I liked algebra. Will you still like me, now that I'm out of the closet? :-P

SnoopyTheGoon said...

" it seems that fulfilling our basic instincts is in itself a functional end"

Yes, but not designed by us as a matter of free will.

SnoopyTheGoon said...


I see you are being busy visiting blogs and planting your link everywhere. This is not precisely how a blogger is supposed to behave. If you want to attract attention, do write something of interest to people.