Know What Good and Evil Are

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

2. Acting and expressing for truth and beauty

3. Valuing Non-idolatry

4. Valuing Democracy

5. Valuing Helpfulness

6. Valuing Tolerance

7. Contributing to the community

8. Being responsible

9. Critical thinking

10. Self-respect

Hierarchy of Evil

10. Thoughtlessness

9. Selfishness

8. Judging others

7. Ganging Up

6. Excluding

5. Intolerance

4. Opposing democracy

3. Unhelpfulness

2. 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.


The Slow as Molasses Press