The Concept of EVIL

[I originally covered evil in an essay “Philosophical Musings – The GOOD and Evil” within my book, “The Philosophy Of The GOOD”; here I supplement that with a further investigation of evil, as a detached will, or God-like entity, and give an alternative to this. In looking at concepts in different ways, we more fully understand them, and are, in consequence, more capable of dealing with their implications.]

Everyone knows intuitively what evil is; it brings about certain emotions, feelings and deep-seated thoughts within the human being. In those that are its target, it can also bring forth hurt, pain, suffering, anger, fear and even horror, while in those that perpetrate it, it brings forth pleasure, happiness and satisfaction; but perhaps, later, in these same perpetrators, remorse and even suffering.

Its intensity of effect varies widely, from what may be considered trivial (e.g.: lying), to that which is considered horrendous (e.g.: murder). But all of these evils have something in common: they are motivated; involve an intention; or have a will behind them.

Bad things happen all the time in life to everyone, but these things are not evil 1 ; they are the results of fate acting indiscriminately. Evil connotes a will behind it – an intention to hurt a particular thing or person willfully.

Superstitious attitudes and religious beliefs have caused many to see evil as something tangible: a will that exists apart from a human being. This evil is then fashioned into a type of entity, which I mention below, a Devil.

To summarize: “Evil deeds” are types of motivated behaviors that are intentionally done, to serve a purpose perpetrated by a human will. The effect of an evil deed is to harm its target in some way. Notice I say a ‘human’ will is the instigator of these deeds. Why?

If we think about it, a human will is the only will we can ever even conceive of 2 , let alone know firsthand. We create within our wills the purposes (reasons) that determine our actions or behaviors. These purposes serve to gratify our motivations or deepest desires.

Now, some religions have gone beyond this, to actually claim the existence of a will, which they term ‘evil’ in itself, as I mentioned above. This ‘will’ resides in a type of being, called a Devil, or a Satan, a complement to their God in all things except this will; thus, this being might be thought of as an evil God. 3 This evil God acts through creating evil desires within the human will, just as God acts to create beneficial desires within the human will.

The psychoanalytic school 4 of psychology has postulated a somewhat similar scenario, within the human mind. The deepest portion of the mind, which psychoanalysts call the ‘Id’, contains certain primitive desires (which we might call ‘evil’) that run counter to the norms of society. But these ‘evil’ desires are not created through a Devil, but through the actions of Nature on the human will, which tends to try to force it to conform with the survival instincts Nature has implanted in it to benefit its survival. It is as if Nature could not see the eventual generation of things like the human mind and human society, which has evolved through the influence of the human mind on the world of matter, and therefore did not remove these primitive vestiges of the lower animals from the action of the human mind 5 .

But the mind knows that the remnants of Nature exist in these primitive self-centered instincts in the Id, so it has created other agencies of the mind to deal with them – the conscience, and what I call the agency of the GOOD. These two agencies of the mind suppress the primitive self-centered wants of the Id, and allow the Ego, the public identity of the mind, to form behaviors in conformance with society, and not just the self-centered desires the Id sustains in conformance with the primitive implants of Nature’s survival instincts.

We might say that the Mortal world of matter has created a permanent type of memory in the genetic code of the human organism which stores the best material for the species’ existence within it, to benefit only that particular organism’s continued existence. But the human mind’s memory is not passed on, therefore the mind and all its learnings are lost when the organism dies. But the mind has created a memory outside of itself that stores the stuff that ensures the survival of society in the cultures of the various societies it has created – this “memory of society” is what is brought back into the conscience through the learning each individual human organism undergoes during its lifetime on earth. 6

Nature, or the First Cause 7 , if you believe the First Cause has an intent within it, has given the human mind a way to make up for the imperfection of the world of matter by allowing humanity to create societies that transcend the shortcomings of the world of matter, which benefit only the individual organism, and allow it to realize the benefits of society on its species through the propagation of the Golden Rule as the true basis of all societies. Thus ‘evil’ is a type of greed that knows only the self; while the effects of the GOOD is imbedded in societies that have superceded the selfish instinct of the individual’s survival with the survival of the society, and even the species itself, through this same Golden Rule.

Thus there is no need of a Devil, outside of the human mind, only the imperfection of material Nature, which allows matter alone to have a continued long-term memory that replaces the lack of the same in the individual organism. But the First Cause, whatever that may be, has (eventually) brought about the human mind, which prospers through its creation of society, and the memory it creates in its culture to foster the Golden Rule that creates a memory for all humans that is brought into their consciences as it interacts with, and learns from society. A memory that lasts beyond the death of the individual human organism, and acts as a guide to all humans through its conquest of the process of material death that the individual organism must endure.

Evil and Greed

Thus we can see that what we term evil actions or deeds, have their origin in the imperfections of the material world of matter. What I have called the “cumulative survival instinct” is the resurrection of these imperfections in the human mind. They work by causing a type of “greedy addiction” to the self, what I have termed an ‘insatiability’ that sees only the benefit and survival of the self over all else, even others of its own ‘human’ kind. Thus the production of harm to others is justified as a mentality of “it’s either them or me” and therefore “only, I count”, in contradistinction to the mentality of the Golden Rule, which generates the trust needed for a society to exist.

But the human species is quite different from other life forms in that it requires a long period of nurturing in a family setting, which it has found is even further benefited by a social environment, the society. This setting instills trust in the young, which grows from the innocence the young are born into. The human mind has brought about an evolution that uses the memory of matter (in its cultures) to continue the propagation of the species over that of the individual, the reverse of that given in the biological code which still favors the individual over the species. 8

The greed of the survival instinct is suppressed by this social environment, and the elements of the mind that have been used to further society (the conscience, and the agency of the GOOD). Evil is the reemergence of this greed, in the form of the “only I count mentality”. This mentality is the mentality of the criminal, who knows no allegiance to anyone but himself. We are seeing whole societies destroying themselves with it. 9

The supreme irony is that today the economic structures 10 that society has created to permit its survival, are the reincarnation of this same “only I count” mentality, which was created to preserve the needs of the self over those of society. The results are the destruction of society, and the rising up of the same greed that destroys all trust and the societies it nurtures.

In a way, it has created a ‘mentality’ outside of the mind; it has created a mentality built into the culture of society itself, which suppresses the Golden Rule, and the trust it instills to make society grow.

Can we call this a type of ‘Evil’?

Its effects do indeed target many individuals, with the result of harming them, but is there really a true intent here, just because society has become the instigator of this attitude? Is the culture of society a type of will that propagates intent? In a way it is, since its intent is a real intent, which enters the consciences of its members as a social force that overrides the original ‘bad’ intents Nature planted. But these new intents aren’t really different than Nature’s, are they? So we might, indeed, see this as the evil that has plagued all societies since their inception: the evil of self-centered greed, becoming a societal ‘intent’ that actually instigates the breakdown of society itself.

But this intent grew not from an evil genie, but from the non-suppression of the original greedy intent Nature implanted in the human organism, a leftover from the evolutionary “survival of the fittest” instinct.

So there is no need for an evil God, a Devil or Satan, to explain religious evil, only the malfunctioning of the human will, magnified by the mechanisms of society into an ‘intent’ no longer upholding society’s benefit: thus an evil. And as to individual human evil, the malfunctioning of the human mind, as proposed by psychology, takes into account even the individual cases of a so-called Devil inspired evil.


Evil as we have defined it, begins and ends in the human will. An evil God, such as a Devil or Satan; an evil will, outside of the human will itself, has no need to be contemplated, since the concept of a God, as the creator of everything, conceived in love, makes such a being impossible. Only the human ‘will’ gives rise to evil, since only the human can be its creator and target.

Evil as an independent will, is merely the effects of the mistakes of society on the individuals of society; mistakes created by perverted groups that capture the society through the power of greed and self-importance, as in the NAZI and Stalinist societies that caused so much evil in their time.

The emergence of evil (as a perverted human will, or a societal intent, either economic or social, perceived as an entity) is the result of the loss of love in the individual; or the loss of the importance of the Golden Rule in society.

The only real 'Devil' is the evil intent promoted by a society or group (religious or social), or individual, that rekindles in itself, or its followers, the greed of the "survival of the fittest" mentality over the love of the Golden Rule (what I have called the GOOD).


To return to note's origin click the footnote number at left

1 I distinguish evil here, from ‘bad’, which doesn’t imply an intent causing it. The intent I speak of below is the actual ‘cause’ of evil deeds. Later, I say that society can produce an intent, or a cause that mimics the causal process of the mind, it does that by itself being a result of multiple minds (of society) acting on the lower stratum of individual minds, similarly to the way culture acts on the human mind.

2 Some will say this is a preposterous statement; after all, religious people think that there is a God that is a type of ‘will’, even a Devil that is an instigating will, behind all evil actions. But the wills they postulate for these Gods or Devils are identical to human wills when we look closely at them. In fact, a will is really only a construct we have created for the human mind itself. A will is something we have created, or defined to be that part of a human being, which carries out and creates ‘purposes’, fulfillments of desires we find within each of our own particular minds. Since the mentality of the human is the only mentality we know, these mentalities, or the wills we postulate for Gods, are really just that: a hypothesis we are making based on what an ancient source such as the Bible tells us.

3 This brings to mind the Oriental idea of the YANG and YIN forces in nature, which are two complementary forces. The YANG force being a creative force of Heaven, and the YIN force being the nurturing or abiding force of the Earth, which allows the creation to take on an earthly material form, and abide within this nurturing form. But these are forces, not entities with wills.

4 Dr. Sigmund Freud and Dr. Josef Breuer founded this school of psychological thought, at the turn of the last century. Freud also created a model of the human mind called a personality, upon which the school based its findings in hysterical diseases (a type of neurosis), which were prevalent at that time. See: “Studies On Hysteria”; Sigmund Freud and Josef Breuer; Avon Books; New York; 1966.

5 This, of course, presupposes you take for granted the evolutionary theory that Darwin proposed, and modern biological science accepts, which has accumulated a lot of supporting evidence in its favor, including the anatomical similarities of the human and the lower mammals. See: “The Descent Of Man”; Charles Darwin; A.L. Burt Publisher; New York; 1874.

6 This mental evolution certainly was not foreseen by the evolutionary process of Nature, although the primitive organisms do show a prototypical society forming in the propensity of social animals, such as ants.

7 This “First Cause” is what science is brought back to, if it traverses the causal chain back to the beginning of the universe. It lies outside of science, at this point, since it lies outside of the causal chain itself. It is what brought about the universe from the ‘nothing’ science cannot deal with. If we propose for it a ‘human’ type of will then it is, in essence, what has been termed a God. Again, science cannot define it, because it can never know what is outside the causal chain.

Science has advanced a theory called “The Big Bang Theory”, which proposes to explain the origin of the universe, as it now exists. But it has arrived at this through a backwards traversal of the universe, assuming the current laws of the universe hold, using the geometry of time and space (a non-Euclidean geometry) as dictated by these laws. But the singularity it proposes at the beginning may well have generated other laws of matter, or other geometries of time and space we cannot perceive. Also it does not truly propose how the beginning came about: Did the singularity always exist? Or, if not, again, how did it originate, and from what (this ‘what’ is either ‘nothing’, or a thing that generates an endless regression of a “something from nothing” or a “something which always was”)? If energy formed matter, then where did energy come from, or visa versa?

For more on this, see my essay: "Meshing Together Two Realities.

8 We can see here a parallel to the political and economic in society that still harkens back to the original plan of survival of the fittest, which is a regression to the primitive failed physical evolution which the mind of man overcame by finding value in each individual human life, and allowed the society to overcome the non-value of human life, Nature upheld in evolution.

9 Mexico is an example of a society self-destructing because of the widespread acceptance of this mentality.

10 This denotes both capitalist and socialist economies, since both have been taken over by these same greedy special interests.



Originally Published:

June 3, 2012


June 26, 2014