Evil vs. The Vanishing Heap

Does evil exist? Is it an entity, a collective, a force?

– or –

Is evil like a heap …

Suppose I show you a heap of sand, and you agree it is a heap of sand. If I remove one grain, then you would agree that it is still a heap of sand, and if I keep removing a grain of sand until only one remains, then you would agree that it is no longer a heap of sand. You would also agree that there was no magical grain whose removal transformed the heap into a non-heap, and yet, the heap did indeed transform into a non-heap. How is that possible?

A heap is a fuzzy but useful concept. Our language is full of fuzzy but useful concepts like: heap, big, good, right, moral … and evil.

Evil is really just an accusation that means that you have an intense dislike and/or distrust and/or disrespect for the target of your accusation, and that you believe others would agree with you if they knew what you know. In other words, evil is a weak threat that is mostly bluff. Its power is mostly dependent on your reputation with your audience.

I prefer to use more precise terms like useful, profitable, objective, falsifiable, or voluntary. Of course, one can often just let the facts speak for themselves.

Jim
 

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