abba's way

A Note on Good and Evil sent to the Peirce List

Because I finally see the major stream of this list moving in the direction of good and evil I want to share the following chapter from

Changing Your Heart and Mind: Triadic Philosophy in A Nut Shell

I assume no one has read this book which is available for about one third of a reasonably priced work and written to appeal to an educated but not academic audience. But to my reckoning this is an original indication of a seismic shift now underway – why because it is true and truth and beauty lead continuity toward agapeic completion. All we do is seek fallibly to limn stuff.

Know what good

and evil are

There is a huge “tell” in the story of Adam and Eve. It comes when God says that if Adam and Eve know what good and evil are, they will become like him! The writer is clearly telling us that we do know what good and evil is. And that we are not without the qualities that would – and could – make us at least somewhat better than we are. What the writer does not mention is that we would ignore this knowledge for centuries in deference to forces that have in fact been evil.

Good and evil are simple enough. But it makes sense to clear up one huge misconception. Good is values not virtues. The word virtue crops up 253 times in Aristotle’s Ethics. Values are barely mentioned.

The highest goods and the most egregious evils are related to the achievement of freedom, truth and beauty at the top and the avoidance of the ascending levels of harm at the bottom. We human beings are a spectrum of good and evil. Just look at the following hierarchies to become aware of the incredible mix of good and evil we are.

Hierarchy of Good

  1. Being loving and free
  1. Acting and expressing for truth and beauty
  1. Valuing Non-idolatry
  1. Valuing Democracy
  1. Valuing Helpfulness
  1. Valuing Tolerance
  1. Contributing to the community
  1. Being responsible
  1. Critical thinking
  1. Self-respect

Hierarchy of Evil

  1. Thoughtlessness
  1. Selfishness
  1. Judging others
  1. Ganging Up
  1. Excluding
  1. Intolerance
  1. Opposing democracy
  2. Unhelpfulness
  1. Causing injury
  1. Killing

Whatever adjustments you might make in these hierarchies, I trust you would agree that they evoke the actual values that lead to the actual behavior indicated. Some gang up and exclude, some oppose democracy. Some kill. Some pay taxes whose effects cause harm.  Some support businesses that do the same.  Some accept practices that are proved to be harmful. That’s merely a fraction of the downside. On the upside, positive values have been instrumental in generating historical progress over the centuries. Particularly those which form the ethical index of triadic philosophy: tolerance, helpfulness, democracy and non-idolatry.

How much more progress there would be if these positive values were accepted universally. They are a true and apt measure of what does good.


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