The Science of Evil | Psychology Today | + Opinion


Criminal psychologist applies current research to our notions about being bad.

Source: The Science of Evil | Psychology Today Canada

+ I don’t buy it. While it is interesting to try to look at evil from the perspectives of neuropsychology and social psychology, any explanation that ignores free will, ethics and spirituality is bound to fall short. Not to say that looking at how someone is ‘wired’ and conditioned is wrong. But it is incomplete.

People change. People see the light. People feel the light. That’s the true source of repentance, confession, behavioral change and salvation.

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14 comments

    • That’s a really good question, one that made me stop and think. I’m still not sure how best to answer that, considering the complexity and essential mystery involved.

      I wouldn’t say someone is evil but rather influenced by evil.

      My view could be described as a Christian take but I wouldn’t want to be lumped into any particular denomination, preferring to investigate and think for myself.

      How about you?

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I am inclined to think that a person who hates and wants to destroy life and liveliness is an evil person. Seems to me that an evil person wishes to destroy (consciously or unconsciously) creativity, freedom and liveliness when he encounters these qualities in somebody.

    I see that you had written a post “Throwing Light on the Shadow: Carl Jung’s Answer to Evil” . Broadly speaking, I tend to agree with Jung and Freud on the subject of evil. Seems to me that self deception goes a long way in making a person evil. Evil people are people of the lie.

    I am hoping that you are also an independent thinker like me.

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  2. My perspective is partly influenced by the idea of numinosity which in my admittedly basic understanding of Kant possibly differs from or goes beyond the idea of the noumenon.

    Is there room for mysticism with the concept of the noumenon or is the noumenon just an intellectual construction?

    Some Zen Buddhists might say there is room for mysticism with the idea of noumenon but not all scholars are convinced that ZBist mysticism would necessarily be the same as, say, the various branches of Hindu or Christian mysticism.

    These are some of the questions that inform my view of evil. 🙂

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  3. “Is there room for mysticism with the concept of the noumenon or is the noumenon just an intellectual construction?”

    I use the concept of thing-in-itself instead noumenon in reference to Kant, and by thing-in-itself I take Kant to mean reality-in-itself. Kant makes a difference between reality as it actually is as against reality as it is perceived by humans. So accordingly total reality is perceived by humans as universe consisting of objects like Sun. Moon, tables and chairs etc. but actually this is not reality as it actually is, it is only an appearance.
    Hindu and Buddhist mystics also say some similar things that this reality which ordinary people and also science think to be actual reality is only appearance or ‘Maya’ and is not reality.

    This understanding of Kant is extremely revolutionary for Western people and science and still undigested mostly. The beauty is that to understand this Kantian insight no irrationality or mysticism is needed, One just has to think strictly in accordance to logic or ‘pure reason’ and one will reach this understanding. Once you understand it, the implications are mind blowing.

    Does this make sense to you?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very interesting. Your comment led me to Wikipedia to get a better idea of the difference between – and debates around – noumenon vs. thing-in-itself.
      Yes, it makes a lot of sense to me and you describe it very well. I actually started conceiving of our world this way in undergrad studies. And to boast just a little, I thought of it myself without having looked at Kant. 🙂
      Actually, that’s prob not fully true. I recall being interested in Gary Zukav’s The Dancing Wu Li Masters in which he deconstructs the idea of matter via what was then called subatomic physics. So perhaps that had an influence on me.
      I remember trying to explain this outlook in my awkward youthful way to a professor on the bus ride home from the U. He replied, “Well, you and I are not so different then.”
      To me, it seems there is a certain type of person who will educate themselves about the particle/wave duality, etc. Some New Agers have taken that to supposedly back up their claims about spirituality.
      However, for me, we have matter/energy on the one hand and spirituality on the other. I don’t understand these two as identical, although the two realms (for lack of a better word) must somehow intersect and possibly interact.
      Enter the importance – again for me – of the numen ( https://goo.gl/REYyd7 ). If by chance you are not familiar with it, Rudolf Otto’s The Idea of the Holy might be a good place to start. Not to say that I fully agree with Otto.
      I did a little summary here if interested: https://goo.gl/FGF4uP
      This is turning out to be a great discussion. I had a feeling I would learn something from you.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes, I find it is often better to think about things before replying. In my case, finding the best words to fit with what I am trying to communicate/achieve can be a bit like Beethoven composing (he apparently made lots of drafts, revisions, and scratched things out a lot!).

    It doesn’t always come easily when trying to articulate my beliefs, known limitations, and uncertainties. So I totally get it.

    I’m currently revising a short entry on Mysticism (good timing) but I find it so incredibly boring right now that I’ve hit a bit of a writers block. You wouldn’t think I’d get bored writing about something I believe in, but there it is… 🙂

    I guess my interests have moved on from trying to defend/explain to trying to apply. Both ventures are ‘applications’ but one is more on the ‘practical’ side, I guess.

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  5. I have looked at the links you gave me and am very interested in the concept of holiness.

    Can you tell me what is the meaning of holiness for you? What is holiness and what it is not? Are some people more holy than other people or all people are equally holy or unholy? How does holiness relate to goodness, if there is any relation between the two etc. ?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Good questions. My personal bias is to see the holy in terms of the quality of a spiritual experience, although if we search for a simple dictionary definition we’ll see that for most ‘holy’ means more than just that. For me, there are many different types of spiritual experiences but I do not experience each type as holy.

    These kinds of experiences are, of course, not something one cannot easily share. And I suspect my words will do little to convince or illuminate another person, especially if that person has not had – or is not ready for – similar experiences.

    Since all glory and honor comes from God, I don’t really see people, themselves as holy. Holiness comes from God. So I’d say that anyone who parades around trying to convince others that they are a holy man or woman is probably misguided or possibly a con artist.

    As for the good, we could debate that for hours. Some see action A as good while others see not-A as good (e.g. pro-choice vs. pro-life advocates). The trick, I think, is to try to discern and follow God’s will re the good. Note that I say “try.” IMO this is an ongoing choice and since we’re all less than God, we will often fall short while trying.

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    • Hey I looked over your post. The main thing that came to mind was how researchers say the brain evolves right up into the 20s.

      http://clbb.mgh.harvard.edu/juvenilejustice/

      I have also heard this can impact some ethical decisions. But that’s just one strand of the total situation. And I think some scientists and psychiatrists are a bit too eager to overlook other strands. Especially spiritual influences.

      Why do some kids gleefully kill a butterfly while others cry out “don’t kill it!” If it were all about neurology the “normals” should be in closer accord.

      Answer – We’re not mass-produced CPUs or robots. However, some folks seem to behave like they are, which raises another interesting question: Are some individuals just wired wrong?

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