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Why Good and Bad Can't Really Exist

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posted on Feb, 24 2011 @ 12:20 AM
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Good --- better --- best

Bad --- worse --- worst


Those words are purely artifacts of language. They don't actually "mean" anything.

None of those six words have objective counterparts -- or anything to do with the world outside of us.


Where's my proof?

You may have already been exposed to the idea that morals are arbitrary, and vary from individual to individual, and even more between two cultures from different geographic regions. Well it turns out that not only do our opinions differ from person to person as to what constitutes moral and immoral, but any judgment of "good" or "bad" we make defies logic, and this has been philosophically proven even to the same rigor that defines the scientific method itself. Also morality, pleasantness, attractiveness, and all number of other "meaning"-type qualities defy logical reasoning.


So, if you can believe that the famous 19th century physicist James Clerk Maxwell discovered that electricity, magnetism, and light were all resulting from the same phenomenon that we now call an electromagnetic field, then the famous ancient Chinese philosopher Lau Tzu proved using the same reasoning that "good" and "bad" are two meaningless distinctions, that always rise together, just like electricity and magnetism.

To say something "good" can possibly exist without creating a proportionally equivalent amount of "bad" simultaneously, is every bit as impossible as saying you could create an electric field without creating a proportional magnetic field, or vice versa, because they come in pairs in exactly the same way.

Pairs of opposites like "good" and "bad" are arbitrary distinctions that rely on each other for their respective definitions to even be formulated. For example, if there was nothing that was the least bit "bad," that anything "bad" has already ceased to exist completely, and we then say something is "good," what would that even mean anymore? "Good" is not quantifiable, so you can't give it a verifiable number like a measurement; it only means what it does, by relative comparison to some concept of "bad." And the better something is, the worse its competition by relation, so a proportion exists.


Maxwell looked at two proportionally interconnected forces, and saw that there was no use considering them as separate phenomena anymore. Electricity + magnetism (2 seemingly-separate things) = electromagnetism (1 thing) --------> paradigm change in physics.

Lao Tzu looked at two proportionally interrelated and self-creating definitions, and also saw that there was no use considering them as separate phenomena anymore. If one exists, the other also must exist. "Good" + "Bad" (2 seemingly separate things) = a logical morality that must always allow for "bad" to exist, or more specifically, a perpetual state of "good-bad," if you will ---------> paradigm change in philosophy.


This philosophy was much more eloquently expressed in these 8 simple lines of the beautifully bare Tao te Ching, hundreds of years ago:


2

When people see some things as beautiful,
other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good,
other things become bad.

Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.


academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu...


The state of looking at a pair of opposites as two separate things is known as duality, like when you look at electricity and magnetism as unrelated forces. The state of looking at seeming pairs of opposites as a single thing is called a singularity, like electromagnetism. So the next time someone talks about "transcending duality," you won't have an excuse anymore, to say you don't know what they're talking about.




So what's it mean to me?

Before the next time you judge something or someone, you don't have to worry about "judge not lest ye be judged yourself." But you will be made aware that your judgment still makes absolutely no sense logically. It might be useful to separate pairs of opposites in some cases, but it would be well to remember the full context and that "bad" will always exist when there is "good." Maybe for the purposes of your job you have to determine the quality of something in terms of "good" or "bad," but this too would just be a relative comparison, and if there was no "bad" then you'd be out of a job.



If this is true, why haven't I heard it somewhere else already?

That's harder to answer, especially considering that the Tao te Ching has been more widely translated throughout the world than any other book except the Bible, but while remaining purely philosophical. It's the sole and almost only piece of classic literature associated with Taoism today. This philosophy is widespread in China, where it originated and has remained for hundreds of years up to the present day.

In the West, this Eastern reasoning has only started slipping into our culture recently, and is by no means aided by the fact that language implicitly gives credibility to dualistic mentalities in many of our most common words and phrases. There were no English translations until the late 1800s, when there were apparently several different attempts. Due to its great depth and subtlety, translating the Tao te Ching is considered a challenge for Westerners even today, and there are a great number of English versions. It wasn't until the "Beat" generation of the 1950's, after WW2, and increasingly through the 1960s, that Western culture began paying more attention to and absorbing more Eastern culture and philosophy. Now in this new age of information technology (like the internet) we're seeing international borders shrinking even faster and more information becoming that much more available to that many more people. That means you too!! So stay tuned.


There's another link to Stephen Mitchell's translation of the Tao te Ching in my sig...
edit on 24-2-2011 by bsbray11 because: (no reason given)




posted on Feb, 24 2011 @ 12:25 AM
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True, because life is about experiences and they are not good or bad and we learn from our experiences. Duality was born from judgement.



posted on Feb, 24 2011 @ 12:31 AM
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well put, a very good way to view duality. also what is good for one individual could be wrong for another, which is why keeping an open mind is always important.



posted on Feb, 24 2011 @ 12:35 AM
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Help me here because this has never made sense to me. I see, for example, child molestation as very bad. And don't tell me that the child agreed to it before they came here. Or that it's their 'karma' for a past life because you can't possibly support that with an intellectual argument.

That one society may view some act different from another I understand, but that still doesn't excuse causing another human being pain okay in my thinking.

I have listened to many of my new age friends tell me the same thing, but you should hear them whine when they feel like someone has done them wrong. I'm not trying to be a butt, but I haven't heard a good argument for your concept yet.

If you were kidnapped and tortured, would you be like "Oh, this cool. Nothing 'wrong' here?



posted on Feb, 24 2011 @ 12:39 AM
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Originally posted by The GUT
If you were kidnapped and tortured, would you be like "Oh, this cool. Nothing 'wrong' here?


If i were a masochist i may actually enjoy it.

It's all relative.

The words are subjective/relative; as are all things.



posted on Feb, 24 2011 @ 12:40 AM
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as an individual, you have to make up your own mind as to what is good and bad, if you choose correctly like the majority of other people, you are accepted as a part of their society.

example; the nazis, killing jews, bad, so you are accepted as a moral human being by like minded ppl, which also happen to be a vast majority.

edit; this ^ is why religions dont like each other, and atheists cant stand the bible.

the duality op explained is that you cant have a + without a -. if you create a +, automatically a - is attached to it.

that's my take anyways.


edit on 24-2-2011 by vjr1113 because: (no reason given)

edit on 24-2-2011 by vjr1113 because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 24 2011 @ 12:41 AM
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A simple way to have put it is just to say they are Relative Terms


But good luck trying to co-exist with other people on this planet if you have no regard for what they consider is Bad or Good.



posted on Feb, 24 2011 @ 12:43 AM
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I don't believe good or bad exist. It's all about perception.

Shakespeare said it best in Hamlet

"Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so"



posted on Feb, 24 2011 @ 12:53 AM
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just wanted to note that there are other forms that teach non-duality as well, including (but not limited to) advaita vedanta, certain sects of hinduism, tao te ching (as mentioned) and several individual philosophers (if i remember correctly, and i may not, people like Osho and Alan Watts). Experientially, they seem to result in exactly the same state and attitude as structures such as zen buddhism. In the end, it is the same as realizing that ones perspective does not dictate the totality of what it observes.

Just to throw some duality and disagreement in myself...
It is this ones perspective that such things do indeed have importance and existence within the perspectives that perceive them. To the point that such concepts will inspire everything from revolutionary action, to taking a nap. Which would lead to the only importance and power of duality residing solely in our perspective. However, it would seem part of our being is inevitably wrapped up in the duality of life/death as well. How do you perceive that because they are dependent on each other for definition, that they do not "exist" as a whole system? In your simile, you use EM. How did that stop existing because they were viewed as the same force?

i do agree, it would just seem there is more to "the story" that you could elaborate on
else im not so sure how one even could agree or disagree





posted on Feb, 24 2011 @ 12:54 AM
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Originally posted by JPhish

Originally posted by The GUT
If you were kidnapped and tortured, would you be like "Oh, this cool. Nothing 'wrong' here?


If i were a masochist i may actually enjoy it.

It's all relative.

The words are subjective/relative; as are all things.


But if you aren't a masochist I doubt you would. I believe your 'relativity' philosophy would go out the window with your screams.



posted on Feb, 24 2011 @ 01:00 AM
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reply to post by bsbray11
 

Good and bad does exist, not physically, but as a measurement of how we perceive something or someone. How is your wife? Good. How is your dog, bad he died. It is a measurement in which we use to show how much we like the subject.



posted on Feb, 24 2011 @ 01:05 AM
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Originally posted by Equinox99
reply to post by bsbray11
 

Good and bad does exist, not physically, but as a measurement of how we perceive something or someone. How is your wife? Good. How is your dog, bad he died. It is a measurement in which we use to show how much we like the subject.


It's how we perceive, but not necessarily the reality because cause and effect is continuous and not static.



There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. "Such bad luck," they said sympathetically. "May be," the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. "How wonderful," the neighbors exclaimed. "May be," replied the old man. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. "May be," answered the farmer. The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son's leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. "May be," said the farmer.



posted on Feb, 24 2011 @ 01:10 AM
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Originally posted by The GUT
Help me here because this has never made sense to me. I see, for example, child molestation as very bad.


I said above that you may have a job that requires you to quality-check items as being "good" or "bad," ie "acceptable" or not, to the end of some practical use. Same thing with criminal law: to satisfy our legal system, courts have to pump out "good" and "bad" people like a meat factory. The judgments are as arbitrary and vary just as much as the laws themselves differ from place to place.

In some countries what is "child molestation" here is perfectly accepted there. The difference is in the eye of the beholder and what you personally are trying to accomplish. You have a will, so you pick things that you want to do. As soon as you do that, you become the arbitrator of "this is 'good' " and "this is 'bad' " by comparison to what you want, and what you think other people should do. That's all fine, and we all have our many opinions about things that are not justified by real logic, but that's okay and is required to make the world go round.

And if anyone ever thought their opinions were all based on facts and logic, they were only sorely misleading themselves, because as soon as you think even a single thing is "good" or "bad" you are making judgment calls that formal logic wouldn't even be able to formulate. But you can still make those decisions as the need arises, and according to what you personally think and feel.



posted on Feb, 24 2011 @ 01:20 AM
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Originally posted by sinohptik
just wanted to note that there are other forms that teach non-duality as well, including (but not limited to) advaita vedanta, certain sects of hinduism, tao te ching (as mentioned) and several individual philosophers (if i remember correctly, and i may not, people like Osho and Alan Watts).


Right, I just didn't want to distract myself too much by diverting to the same idea in other cultures. Lots of other traditions understand the nature of duality.


However, it would seem part of our being is inevitably wrapped up in the duality of life/death as well. How do you perceive that because they are dependent on each other for definition, that they do not "exist" as a whole system?


The equivalent would be that life and death are themselves relative to one another. Regardless of what happens when you die, and despite the fact that we don't even know for sure, we can still identify it simply by calling it the opposite of what we are doing right now, ie being alive. We literally define death in terms of (not) being alive, its alleged opposite.


In your simile, you use EM. How did that stop existing because they were viewed as the same force?


Electricity and magnetism still exist, and always existed. What was discovered was the total relationship between them, so two things that were formerly seen as separate, are now just two different ways that the same electromagnetic field will manifest. And there is actually a third way it manifests: light. So it doesn't even have to be a polarity, but can be a trinity or a whole spectrum that resolves into a single entity.



posted on Feb, 24 2011 @ 01:24 AM
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Originally posted by Nick_X
But good luck trying to co-exist with other people on this planet if you have no regard for what they consider is Bad or Good.


Well I believe everything I posted yet I don't find it too troubling to be a member of society. Imagine that. Sounds like you are drawing on some pre-conception to the extent of "only trouble-makers break the rules." Well I do like to make this kind of trouble for you.





Originally posted by The GUT
But if you aren't a masochist I doubt you would. I believe your 'relativity' philosophy would go out the window with your screams.


All you would prove is that the human body is designed to react to pain. There is no "good" or "bad" about screaming or even being killed, until you ask a human being for their opinion. Do you see the gap there between objective reality that's supposed to be "out there" and the human subjective reality "in here"?

Animals kill and eat each other all the time, but they aren't human, so it becomes harder for you to relate. Are lions wrong to kill something if it begins to scream? Is it the pain and screaming itself that would make being killed "bad"? Or is it something else?
edit on 24-2-2011 by bsbray11 because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 24 2011 @ 01:43 AM
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reply to post by bsbray11
 


Interesting perspective, thank you for sharing


Perhaps one could work in why this applies to the elimination of "karma" when one achieves "enlightenment" as well. It is seemingly relevant.

i see such balanced systems as the "surface" of a very, very deep ocean.



posted on Feb, 24 2011 @ 05:54 AM
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reply to post by bsbray11
 


OH thank-you. This thread is such a breath of fresh air.






Originally posted by vjr1113

the duality op explained is that you cant have a + without a -. if you create a +, automatically a - is attached to it.


Yeah the polarities always remain in a cosmic balance. Many can find this hard to accept and often go into denial, but by doing good works in the world they unknowingly create evil. Many in their ignorance thinking that they can upset the balance, are trying to create more of one polarity (usually positive) of their preference and eradicate the other, they may even succeed temporarily in a small area of creation, but they will soon realize their folly. In the end only sane thing for us to do is to transcend duality altogether and re-enter the divine universe.





edit on 24-2-2011 by polarwarrior because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 24 2011 @ 09:52 AM
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Originally posted by The GUT
Help me here because this has never made sense to me. I see, for example, child molestation as very bad. And don't tell me that the child agreed to it before they came here. Or that it's their 'karma' for a past life because you can't possibly support that with an intellectual argument.

That one society may view some act different from another I understand, but that still doesn't excuse causing another human being pain okay in my thinking.


Its because you are coming from a judgemental perspective. You are looking at the situation through the lens of duality. A child is in pain therefore it must be bad. That person did it so they must be a bad person. This "bad" doesn't actually exist. What exists is the act and the pain it caused. It is that and nothing more.

Both parties in the exchange experienced something. The child will experience pain because of it, but if they can survive that pain and transmute it, then they become stronger. Likewise, if the abuser transmutes their own feelings, they can become stronger and not feel the need to do it again.

If we don't want the situation to occur in the first place, then we need to basically design it out of society. Address the actual root causes of these acts, which is people who have experienced pain themselves and not healed fully. They go on to complete the cycle by abusing someone else. The only way to break the cycle is to heal all of those affected. This goes not only for molestation but all forms of violence.

Moral judgements get you nowhere. Good and Bad don't actually exist. The universe doesn't care about you personally, but it will never deal you anything that you can't handle.

Suicide? I heard a good saying once - A feeling can never kill me, but what I do to escape that feeling can. So true.
edit on 24-2-2011 by Cecilofs because: (no reason given)

edit on 24-2-2011 by Cecilofs because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 24 2011 @ 01:06 PM
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off-topic post removed to prevent thread-drift


 



posted on Feb, 24 2011 @ 03:53 PM
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Originally posted by Cecilofs
If we don't want the situation to occur in the first place, then we need to basically design it out of society. Address the actual root causes of these acts, which is people who have experienced pain themselves and not healed fully. They go on to complete the cycle by abusing someone else. The only way to break the cycle is to heal all of those affected. This goes not only for molestation but all forms of violence.


This paragraph is beautiful. It expressed something perfectly that I was trying to earlier but gave up on.

To illustrate your point, there have been isolated native tribes in South America discovered, that had no words in their vocabulary for "rape" or "murder." There was no evidence of these crimes ever taking place within their known history, and they didn't even seem to have conceptions for the ideas. They were all fully healed in that respect.



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