ON GOOD AND EVIL: THE PHILOSPHER-KING

Often times, I have asked this question of freedom and determinism. Is man really free? What is it in man that makes him free? It is commonly believed that man is free and makes use of his freedom in the manner that so pleases him and therefore should be held morally for any course of actions he undertakes. However, when we come across the principles and theory of determinism, we are soon faced with the readily fact that man is not free and he has never been free.

Ethical determinism speculates that men’s action is only determined and followed as a result of what they see and perceive as good. This simply means that man will act only based on the good and what comes as good to him thus being compelled by an internal force to act and do. It would sound untrue to hear of a man who left the good (what he knows to be the good) and choose what is evil. We can’t define the good in the universal sense because good is a relative term. What appeals and appears as good to me might not be same with another fellow. For example, that I stole a mobile phone sound evil because I have taken away the source of communication from that person but at the same time, it is a good to me because I now have a mobile phone to communicate regardless of how it was gotten. This example makes it difficult for the good to be defined in general and hence many have suggested that the good itself, should be beneficiary to both the subject and the object; only then, we can define the good in the universal. If indeed man were to be free as speculated, the variations existing between accepting what is good and not should have long ago be discarded or resolved. When the ancient Greek Philosopher; Socrates and Plato held the view that it is ignorance that makes people to do evil or harmful thing to others, they were quick enough to note that ignorance is the absence of knowledge. Therefore, if ignorance causes men to act in an evil way, we conclude that man is not free from his emotion because, what appear as good might be used to promote the evil. If one day, I render help to a dying man left for the dead knowing fully well that if I walk pass, he will be dead in another few seconds. After some days, I am being robbed by a group of men and only for me to realize that the ring leader is this same man I helped before, what would be the current situation if we have to follow what Socrates is saying? Ignorance would only apply when I see the good and refuses to accept that this is the good, only then I become ignorant. The good is not something that can be dismissed or evaded with a flick of the finger. The good is so powerful that it surpasses the emotion and forces the emotion to act.

I can’t accept the fact that ignorance causes people to act in an evil manner. What of the man who made up his mind to kill his evil father for the many sins committed by his father? Is that not a good itself? Would we say that killing a man who has previously taken away five hundred innocent lives and still hoping to take another three hundred in the nearer few days, is not justified and thus should be taken as evil? Evil, as many have argued has no base but rather thrive on the good for it to be called “evil”. In the similar examples given above, we can logically say that while it is wrong to take away somebody life no matter the circumstances, then we commit an evil by allowing the person to live still knowing fully well that he will go ahead and kill more people. How then do we reconcile these school of thought, on one hand, we can’t take away the life of someone and on the other hand, we commit an evil by allowing him to live knowing that his continuous existence will cost more people to do?

I have often wonder supposing we have a scenario in which a sick man is seriously in need of a little amount of money to buy medicine that will save his life and after seeking all places, he finds no help. He is left for the dead and he readily accepts his fate. Meanwhile, there is a rich man in the same location and he is very wealthy that he doesn’t know what to do with his money except that he stores them up in a room. Suddenly, a relative of this sick man stole a part of this rich man’s money and saved his brother from dying. What is the good and what is the evil here? Is it the fact that the money being stolen (which the rich man never knew and probably will never know) that makes it evil or that the attention of this evil was directed towards a good? Saving a life is far better and glorious that money being piled up for no purpose. Hence, while we agree the mean was dubious, evil and uncalled for, the end itself was a glorious one because it required the saving of someone’s health. Yes, the rich might have worked so hard for his money which by moral value is a good action. At the same time, a sick man in point of death requires money to live on. Therefore, we could not find the perfect good because it was marred with some evil in order to save a life.

If we follow the utilitarianism theories, the greatest happiness represents the greater number of people. Thus if one man will die and it will save five hundred people from dying, why should not he be put to death? Or do we subscribe to the view that it is better for five hundred men to die and one man to live? No, we can’t agree to this view. This makes the problem of good and evil even more confusing. What exactly is the good? What is evil?

Whatever we see and perceive as good must comes from one determinant factor; this is the belief that this good will be useful to us. Man, by all morals and standards is not a free man as many ancient and modern scholars will argue. To be free, is to be totally free from all emotions, death, beliefs etc. To be free in the universal sense and ideal is to be born free of which man is not. It would be illogical to have been born in bondage and yet living in this chaotic world hopes to attain freedom. Emotion puts us to act in so many instances and thus what do we owe to freedom? Nothing

The good “being a must do” has not be universally defined and thus the very reason why we have people who continually to mistake the good for evil and evil for good. Ignorance doesn’t compel us to act but what compel us to do evil and good is simply because everything appears as good to us. The only different is that the mean and process of actualizing it, is what defines the good and evil in the clear context. I do not think the evil can thrive without the good. Just as we can’t have a world full of good, so also we can’t have a world totally full of evil. For a world of evil to thrive on, it would means that nothing is perceived as the good and this is paramount to impossibility because we cat in an evil way to achieve some good. We never act evil because we want evil. No man, even the nemesis and enemies of man desire evil on us but that they see something which is the good hence the innate nature of evil. Evil for evil sake is not an ideal thought.

The more we try to thrive on the good, the more evil becomes glaring, how then can we live a free world where supremacy battle reigns between the good and evil. I have sought for so many answers regarding this good but hence it would be wise to conclude that what appears as good is not same to my fellow brothers and thus using the means and process as a yardstick will only make the distinction.

I dare to conclude this thought that until the good is defined universally, only then, men will understand that to act in the good, is to do the good in a way that the good is good in itself with no single trait of evil. The perception, the act, the process and the mean must be good such that when subjected to moral standard, it will be accepted on the overall.

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About ogungbesan20
I'M A STUDENT OF SOCRATIC SCHOOL OF THOUGHT AS MUCH AS I BELIEVE IN THE PRACTICES AND THEORIES OF ALL KNOWLEDGE LEADING TO TRUTH. ....SHALOM......

6 Responses to ON GOOD AND EVIL: THE PHILOSPHER-KING

  1. MARK says:

    WOAH,THIS IS TRULY INSPIRING AND MOTIVATING. I LOVE THIS WRITE-UP

  2. DAVID says:

    MICHAEL, I HAVE ALWAYS KNOWN THAT YOU HAVE THE GOD GIVEN ABILITY TO WRITE WELL.I ADORE THIS PIECE AND I MUST CONFESS THAT I AM SO MUCH IMPRESSED

  3. aaron says:

    revealing and truest!

  4. HAO,ZHOU says:

    This is a classic article, but also worth pondering. There is no doubt a man of evil will change the lives of many people around, a man who is kindly also can changed someone’s world view who is around of him.

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