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Conservatives for Abolishing the Fact of Evil
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The public personas who pass as conservatives are NOT system builders. We know them as conservatives not by their well thought-out, philosophically consistent thinking; but because they’ve staked out certain positions on The Issues, over time.

“Gun violence” is the term used by conservatives with this messy habit of mind. A careful thinker would allude to “goon violence.”

“For guns are not the root cause of man’s evil actions. Neither are the multiplying categories of manufactured illness in the psychiatric Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Evil is integral to the human condition, always has been, always will be. Evil can’t be wished away, treated away, medicated away or legislated away. It is here to stay.”

In cahoots with their left-liberal partners in crime, conservative jurists, journalists, politicians and pundits now routinely debase this moral vocabulary. “Gun violence,” they all jabber, is caused by mental illness.

Their cure for goon violence: Bring in the big therapeutic guns to do the diagnosing. With state imprimatur, the witch doctors will lay the “scientific” cornerstone for walling-in society’s oddballs.

Democrats concur: If someone does something awfully wicked, he must have an illness as real as cancer or Alzheimer’s.

Still, progressives are pioneers in abolishing the fact of evil and replacing it with a diagnosis amenable to state intervention. Did not Joseph Stalin replace the wisdom of the ages with a scientific system that deployed the therapeutic idiom to murder and imprison dissenters? Yes he did.

But while they dare not cop to it openly, a secondary goal exclusive to progressives is to destroy the very idea of a self-reliant citizenry.

Left-liberals would dearly love to disarm all citizens (bar their own security details), to better resemble the “enlightened” Eurocracy. In today’s backward Britain, home of the Magna Carta, the police now instruct their subjects that “the only fully legal self-defense product … is a rape alarm.”

Both factions of our opposing position holders are generally unoffended by prior restraint initiatives. Easily would they condone the initiation of aggression ad absurdum against the individual, on the off-chance that he himself may initiate violence against others.

There once-upon-a-time was, in our town, a darling, loopy young man who stood on the curb, holding up commercial signposts, face beaming, yelling his love for The Lord. He’s gone! Replaced with a more sedate, swarthy gentleman. Perhaps the exuberant youngster was rounded up and hospitalized. Just to be on the safe side.

Likewise are conservatives perfectly comfortable with the fortification of the therapeutic state and the deconstruction of conventional morality.

What is meant here by deconstructing morality?

Take Dr. Keith Ablow, a conservative regular on Fox News. Ablow first diagnosed the goon du jure, Chris Harper Mercer, with a mental illness. The good doctor arrived at the diagnosis thus: Harper Mercer shot up a college, in Roseburg, Oregon, killing 10 people and wounding seven. Ergo, he must be ill.

As Dr. Ablow surmised, Harper Mercer must have lived a life “of terrible desperation and suffering in the shadowy basements of suburban homes, lost in delusions and wandering the streets.” (Ablow’s writing is worse than his brain infarcts.)

This awfully evil act, Ablow and the other TV knaves take as irrefutable proof of disease. This disease, for which there is no scientific evidence, causes killing just as Parkinson’s causes shaking.

Ablow was up against a smart and moral man of the cloth, also a regular on FNC. Much to Father Jonathan Morris’s horror, etched on his young face, Ablow went on to insist that evil is a disease.

Morris scrambled to correct this awfully destructive statement, made on national TV, but there was no stopping evil Ablow and his anchor enabler.

Evil is a disease, asserted Ablow, because human beings are defined by their humanity.

When human beings lose that humanity, it can only be because they’ve been afflicted by a sickness.

With that, Ablow struck a blow to the moral foundation of our already tattered civilization: the idea that man is in fact not very good and that a meaningful life is defined by a struggle to be better.

With his evil-as-disease illogical, a historical folderol, Ablow and his co-conspirators flout all The West’s great secular and sacred texts.

If we accept the intellectually, logically and morally wicked idea that evil is a condition of the flesh and not the spirit—We The People don’t have a prayer.

The ancients taught that “every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood” (Genesis 8:21). Look around you. The truly good and noble are as rare as philosophical system-builders on national TV and radio.

However, if good is the default position of humanity, as Ablow has it—then the rest, hundreds of millions of bad people, are all ill.

In truth, our frailties define us. Human beings are not universally good. On the contrary; the struggle to live a righteous life is not that common among mankind.


The many deadly sins—gluttony, greed, sloth, pride, envy, and so on—are what define humanity. Few are the people who actually struggle to vanquish vices and work at being virtuous. (Gluttony is this writer’s vice. In the course of writing this text, six slabs of chocolate were devoured! This is no illness; It’s gluttony. Another is being late to file copy, to the detriment of a long-suffering editor. This vice shall be conquered!)

But according to TV’s philosopher kings, this writer’s resolve is futile, for vice is a physical illness, and not a moral affliction amenable to self-correction.

Ultimately, if evil is accepted as an unnatural condition, a disease—then wicked individuals cannot be held accountable for their misdeeds.

If you’ve bought into the evil-as-disease balderdash, work to vanquish this most diabolical of vices.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Conservative Movement, Mass Shootings 
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  1. GW says:

    Part of being a conservative in the neo-Marxist West is relearning what our ancestors would have grasped instinctively. Unless one recognizes evil as an ontic category, then the blame for highly publicized mass murders has to be guns or mental illness or racism or societal influence or isolation from society.

    The Apostle Paul, citing King David wrote this about the men’s hearts:

    There is none righteous, no, not one.

    Until we teach this again to our children, expect society to be focused on the periphery instead of the root cause.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  2. Kiza says:

    Bravo Ilana, bravo. Great to read that the true, healthy conservatism cannot be easily extinguished. I remember a similar sick idea of about a decade or two ago that homosexualism is a genetic aberration.

    They quazi-science-away reason and make perpetrators the victims of illness.

  3. D. K. says:

    Would one be correct in assuming that the quotation marks in paragraph three are misplaced, or is that otherwise apparent quote simply lacking a necessary and proper attribution?

    • Replies: @ilana mercer
  4. Lupa says:

    No intelligent adult sees the world in a comic book good/evil duality. In real life, different things motivate different people, and the brain is part of the flesh.
    Why is this article on UNZ? It’s very poorly written and misplaced compared to the other texts.

    • Replies: @1432fpchero
  5. Scientism is all the rage these days. That you get idiots like Ablow is not a surprise. people simply have no desire to take responsibility for themselves, and the same sort enable morons like Ablow who are quick to absolve people of the evil they commit.

    • Replies: @Realist
  6. Having gone to schools where the Christian Bible and the Book of Common Prayer were the only sources of text from which I could count on readings 6 days a week the word “evil” is familiar enough. But it is not useful if one wants either a causal explanation of events or even just some defining attributes by which evil can be described and identified as distinct from other entities or descriptions.

    Does the author propose that her notion of evil should have some place in displacing rules long established by judges steeped in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles by which persons accused of crime were held to lack the necessary mens rea because of insanity? E.g. they were unable to understand the nature of the act or recognise that it was wrong?

    Would she object to the concept of “diminished responsibility” which seems to have entered the common law world in the last 50 years?

    I take it that her problem is really with the kind of causal explanations put forward by some psychologists or psychiatrists to connect individuals’ horrific actions with events in their past with particular emphasis on events external to their brains. N’est-ce pas? Still I’m not exactly sure where evil fits in to answer understandable questions of causality like “what could possibly have turned that dear cuddly little puppy into a vicious snarling child eating attack dog?”.

    • Replies: @ilana mercer
  7. @GW

    Both King David and St Paul could be suspected of being self serving in their assertions that none were righteous. David in particular was a serial sinner. But “original sin” is not a concept when presented without myth that any mature person should have a problem understanding.

    The trouble is this “root cause” doesn’t even begin to do the job of causal explanation for which “guns”, “mental illness”, “racism”, “societal influences” etc. are wheeled out. That is not to say that those explanatory categories are right or consistent, let alone complete. However, I think you may be making what is sometimes called a “category mistake”.

    • Replies: @GW
  8. GW says:
    @Wizard of Oz

    If evil exists it is a more fundamental cause than any tool or social circumstance. Guns, mental illness, and circumstance are secondary causes and fail to explain the fundamental ontology of good and evil. Conservatives must first be concerned with attacking the spiritual deficiencies in the modern West which cause men to ignore the ontic category of evil. We’re not concerned with a utilitarian reduction in violent atrocities, we’re interested in a restoration of strong moral principles and the salvation of our neighbors.

    So does evil exist? Clearly. This can best be seen by looking at the reaction to the recent Oregon mass shooting. While there is wide disagreement about who is to blame for murderous gunman and how/if such situations can be prevented/reduced, everyone–without thought–instinctively recoils against such acts against the public peace. Hence the anger and emotion people show against those they find responsible. The fact the atrocity is being used as a weapon to moralize against guns or the NRA or liberals shows everyone has skipped the question of the existence of good/evil and gone on to accuse their enemies of being the ones responsible for the evil.

  9. Biff says:

    Guns, evilness, faux conservatives exist in other societies, but they don’t seem to shoot up schools and movie theaters as much. There must be something else to the equation. Degradation of American society maybe?

    • Replies: @ilana mercer
  10. Mental illness seldom leads to rational behavior. However, evil is often perversely rational. Ted Bundy was terrifyingly evil. He was also extremely rational in his approach to the unspeakable. Mass murderers who kill themselves certainly commit evil acts, but they seem more desperate and confused than rational. It makes no more sense to judge all mass murderers evil than to judge them all mentally ill. Reality is much more nuanced and often unknowable.

  11. OutWest says:

    My –just my- observation is that we all have a latent caldron of rage towards and disrespect for others that is contained and suppressed by a thin shell of rational awareness, the latter comprising civilized behavior. However, in, particularly, young males the brain soup goes awry and irrational allowing the normally suppressed rage to rule.

    These people are identifiable. Treatment is problematic. However, precluding their access to weapons, along with other reasonable restrictions, would seem to be workable. It worked in the past. But we’ve been sold on the Cuckoo’s Nest being an oppressive institution housing innocuous inmates.

    Targeting those afflicted would seem to make more sense than declaring the entire population a threat requiring restriction and policing. What you call it –evil or affliction- is immaterial.

  12. Langley says:

    “Mental Illness” is a Categorical Mistake.

    “A category mistake is an error in logic in which one category of something is presented as belonging to another category. For example, to say “the rock is alive” assigns the category of life to that which is not alive. Another example would be to say that an idea is the color blue.”

    It uses language that is appropriate in one realm, (e.g.physical disease), and transposes it unchanged into another, (e.g.,behaviour, emotions, & mental processes).

    This failure in reasoning causes many problems in our world.

    Disease or illness are fine concepts for discussing organ systems.

    Cognitions, behaviours, and emotions are different enough from organ systems that they require their own language.

    It would be far more accurate to describe this behaviour as evil, criminal, or sinful (depending on the realm you were talking about).

    • Replies: @ilana mercer
  13. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    This is great article and spot on. Anyone who has experience with this stuff (e.g., me, a background investigator) can clearly see that very bad actions were unltimately rooted in vice. People can also consciously entertain and pursue this unhealthy stuff mentally and create a depraved mind. People make conscious decisions to commit evil acts and most of this will be done interiorly, in their thoughts. This is wisdom from time immemorial, or at least as far back as Aristotle. What you think about, you will do. What you do, you will become. IMO, it is very rare for someone who commits bad acts not have done a lot of mental preparation and indulging in evil thoughts. This is why the age old admonition to guard your thoughts is so important. Don’t pursue evil thoughts (lust, greed, envy, et al.) even in small doses. Work to eliminate them but crowding them out with virtuous thoughts. And the more you do this, the more you will be able to do this.

  14. Ablow is very involved in forensic psychiatry. It is interesting that the insanity defense is only used in 1% of cases, and in that tiny percentage it is only successful only 26% of the time. And in that percentage of successful defenses, 90% were previously clinically diagnosed with mental illness. So, even with conniving defense lawyers who would sell their soul for a not guilty verdict, 99% of the time they know a jury will buy it as a defense of a criminal (evil) act.

  15. @D. K.

    Yes, I plagiarized myself. The hyperlink has done harm to proper attribution and full citation. In the previous paragraph, the words “goon violence” received a hyperlink to the column from which the quote comes. So the quotations marks are kosher. The pilfering kosher, too. What’s missing are words such as, “As I said in … .” But you’ll agree that’s annoying and pompous.

    • Replies: @D. K.
  16. I have found M. Scott Peck’s books to be the best in trying to understand evil. Peck’s book, “People of the Lie” is the best I’ve read in trying to understand the psychology of evil.

  17. J1234 says:

    A good article by Ilana Mercer. There is evil in the world, and our unwillingness to accept it is part of the explanation for the West’s decline. There’s a great deal of complexity surrounding this, however.

    There is such a thing as mental illness. And it makes people do crazy things. Just as the kidney and liver are organs, so is the brain. And just as there are diseases and conditions that keep the kidney and liver from functioning properly, so it goes with the brain. And since our brain is the origin of our actions, well….

    So it isn’t just the crazy violent act, but the spirit of the crazy violent act that determines whether violence is evil or not, IMO. This guy in Oregon and Adam Lanza and James Holmes all qualify as truly evil people, because they all possessed a great relish for their fiendish acts. Lanza wrote about his upcoming murder of first graders like other people might write about their upcoming honeymoon. He savored the thought of it’s evil and horror with great joy. And was reported to have smiled during the killings.

    In this sense, the Dylann Roof murders didn’t seem to be quite as evil as the other murders, as it was an overwhelming sense of anger rather than euphoria that accompanied his heinious act. Roof even had second thoughts prior to committing crime, being that the black people he shot were so nice. Not at all making excuses for him because he was a “pro white” killer. He still qualifies as evil, as he decided killing innocent (and kind hearted) people could accomplish his “goal”…he just doesn’t seem as evil to me as Lanza. But Roof violated the cardinal rule of the modern world -killing innocent black people – so he’ll likely get the death penalty when the vastly more evil James Holmes didn’t.

    The Columbine killers likewise don’t seem quite as evil. In fact, their violence seemed to strike back at many of the specific people who had tormented them at school. In fact, some good even came from the Columbine killings, as schools in the US started seriously addressing bullying issues after the murders. But again, the crime was so violent as to still qualify as evil.

    The problem with describing the good vs. evil narrative in overly simplistic terms is that – just as with mental illness – it starts to get politicized. The label, “evil” can provide a convenient psychological rationalization. When you call something evil, you are absolving yourself of the ethical responsibility of trying to understand it at any deeper level. We on the right should be aware of that, as we’re called evil all the time.

    • Replies: @1432fpchero
  18. @Wizard of Oz

    In your attempt to depict my reasoning about evil as idiosyncratic or odd, you mention “rules long established by judges steeped in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles.” (The first text— 24 books?—I am familiar with; the last not.) It’s safe to say that nowhere in the Hebrew Bible would Harper Mercer find mercy or exculpation. “Mot Yumat” would be the phrase that applies to him and those like him.
    Then you follow your assertion with a reference to “the common law world in the last 50 years.” The last 50 years of judicial activity entail very little of the common law’s accretive genius.
    As a libertarian traditionalist, I would say that,
    “Sometimes the law of the state coincides with the natural law. More often than not, natural justice has been buried under the rubble of legislation and statute.”

    Oops, I did say that:

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  19. @Biff

    Agreed. Touched on this in “Reflections On The Boston Bombers & Boyhood In America”:

    Progressivism (permissiveness; prog child rearing), breakdown of community (mass immigration), matriarchy rising (women acting as men):

    Newtown shooter Adam Lanza was a product of a freewheeling, fatherless household. The tele-experts have been mum about a mother who was weak and ineffectual. Nancy Lanza was filled with fear. She used a menacing gun collection to overcompensate for her parental inadequacies. A strong, caring male might have taught the troubled Lanza to handle firearms responsibly; might have helped diffuse the lad’s rage. A manifestly weak woman playing at make-believe manhood only added fuel to that fire.

    Read more @

  20. Realist says:

    Ablow has nothing to do with science.

  21. D. K. says:
    @ilana mercer

    If I were you, then, Ilana, I would have used a colon, after “goon violence,” instead of a period!?! (That pro bono advice comes from my antediluvian undergraduate degree in English. F.W.I.W.)

    • Replies: @Bill Jones
  22. I consider morals as adaptive behaviors that develop in a particular group to promote its survival.

    Evil behavior would be contrary to moral behavior – pointing out evil would itself be a moral behavior.

    • Replies: @David
  23. @D. K.

    “If I were you” I would have used “Were I you”

    • Replies: @D. K.
  24. D. K. says:
    @Bill Jones

    Well, I do tend to be long(er)-winded (than many), I must admit, especially when I prefer the sound of what I conceive. I am not a believer in the adage that “shorter is better,” when it comes to English composition. “Ad ogni il suo!”

  25. Art says:

    “The many deadly sins—gluttony, greed, sloth, pride, envy, and so on—are what define humanity. Few are the people who actually struggle to vanquish vices and work at being virtuous.”

    What utter crap – true, we are born selfish – from birth the only thing we know and feel is ourselves – but as we mature we can learn to see other peoples needs as well as our own. Many cultures live that way.

    Saying everyone is inherently bad is nonsense. “Everyone is evil” is promoted by the most willing to have a backwards zero-sum culture. They like it rough and mean because they prosper in such a culture.

    A very few of us are 99% good and a few of us are 99% bad. If we live in a good culture, most of us are capable of being good most of the time. That is all that is required for a culture to be prosperous.

    In Christian Western culture our parents teach us to be idealists – to have hope, respect life, seek truth, and forgive – if do these things most of the time and we can live a good life.

    • Replies: @Drapetomaniac
    , @rod1963
  26. @Lupa

    Lupa… holy crap, you’re an idiot although you are correct, different things do motivate different people. Right now i am motivated to hit you on the head with a large brick

  27. @J1234

    J1234 to paraphrase, some men are born evil, others achieve evil, and some have evil thrust upon them.

    some are just born evil, i grew up in a small town and had neighbors with 5 kids. there was one who although a few years older, made the hair on my neck stand up, he didn’t make 20 yrs. drove this parents to prematurely age, a sister to run away from home and two younger brothers to fear their own shadows.

    call it whatever you will, there is evil all around us, and it insinuates itself into our lives and is allowed to flourish by good people being apathetic to its existence and its origin.

    “Then He said to them, “But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ For the things concerning Me have an end.”

    So they said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.”

    And He said to them, “It is enough.” ” (Luke 22:35-38, NKJV)

  28. @Art

    Nature wires us to be animals. Humpers and thumpers.

    Few of us escape that.

    • Replies: @Art
    , @Bill Jones
  29. Thomas Szasz has it right: there is no such thing as “mental illness”. It’s a labeling racket calculated to aggrandize ($$$) those who consider themselves eminently “sane”. Psychiatrists/psychologists in particular. People differ, which can be objectively inferred from the fact that they DO different things in similar circumstances. Certain of these things need to be viciously sanctioned – not therapized – in order to maintain Western Civilization. That this is no longer done is a sure sign of civilizational collapse. A collapse in which our mealy-mouthed neo-conz and cuckservatives are, as Mercer points out, entirely complicit

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  30. rod1963 says:

    Klebold and Harris murdered people who didn’t do squat to them, some just for fun. To top it off they tried kill many more through propane bombs that luckily didn’t go off.

    They were evil, they enjoyed killing. Bullying was a red herring. Boys have been bullied for almost a century in public schools and at no time was there a mass shooting in response. Klebold and Harris were blossoming psychopaths who found each other and common cause.

    I will say this though, both had very indulgent and absentee parents who let their boys go feral and do as they please, even to the point of building bombs in the garage while a stay at home dad was totally oblivious, even when they got in trouble, the parents bailed them out.

  31. @ilana mercer

    When discussing what is/was almost certainly legal homicide (ie. he would almost certainly have been rightly convicted of murder) it helps to use the concepts and language of the law correctly even if the extra-legal positive and negative causal explanations given by psychologists, neurologists, political position takers, etc. are so irritating and unconvincing that you want to throw up your hands and shout “evil!”.

    Mens rea has to be proved as part of the elements of a crime. The result has to have been intended or at least foreseen and recklessly disregarded. Obviously insanity in the sense of a state of mind which negates mens rea needs to be raised by the defence as the initial presumption, absent any facts apart from the actus reus, is that the accused is sane. So far no place for “evil” as fact or even rhetoric.

    When the actual sequence of mental events which led to the crime are spelled out, albeit very speculatively but, one hopes, in accordance with 21st century knowledge rather than that of the 17th century or the pre-Babylonian Hebrews, it is still very difficult to find a use for “evil” except perhaps in the way some suggest that God is now a residual explanation for anything that we still don’t know or understand. (“The God of the gaps”).

    If you want to say that collective humanity contains a great festering cesspool of nastiness from which emerge many horrific deeds and to call it “evil” when I prefer just to grunt or clear my throat, good luck to you but I am not sure what cause it advances. Does it explain? Does it prescribe remedies or preventatives?

    Maybe one of the comments got as close to something useful as possible by suggesting, I paraphrase, that the bringing up and educating of the young should recognise the depths of depravity close to the surface of the natural human and work at restraint as a character modification. Sure. Still not sure how evil-as-fact advances any argument or cause.

    BTW you have used “natural law” and “natural justice” as if you thought they were synonymous. “Natural law” has a long history with, I understand, Popes being particularly proprietorial. “Natural justice” has a technical meaning at least in some common law countries. It requires that no one be the judge in his own case and also that the other party or parties be given a fair hearing. Is that not the case in the US or are you just making it difficult to see exactly what your argument is by, again, tossing in big words for emotional effect?

    • Agree: Stephen R. Diamond
    • Replies: @Wyrd
  32. @Haxo Angmark

    Would you disallow verdicts of “not guilty on the ground of insanity”? If so would you go further and deny the possibility of some accused person being “unfit to plead”? If not how would you go about determining whether there was the requisite insanity to deny the possibility of the necessary mens rea that the prosecution has to prove?

    • Replies: @Haxo Angmark
  33. Art says:

    “Nature wires us to be animals. Humpers and thumpers.”

    Nature also gave us brains – we have the intellectual capacity to chose not to be humpers and thumpers.

    Christian philosophy teaches us that we can be idealistic. It is an obvious fact that you can build a local culture around you that is hopeful and happy. Will it be perfect – NO – will it always be happy – NO —- but it can make today and tomorrow better then yesterday. Be an optimist.

  34. Wyrd says:
    @Wizard of Oz

    When the actual sequence of mental events which led to the crime are spelled out, albeit very speculatively but, one hopes, in accordance with 21st century knowledge rather than that of the 17th century or the pre-Babylonian Hebrews, it is still very difficult to find a use for “evil” except perhaps in the way some suggest that God is now a residual explanation for anything that we still don’t know or understand. (“The God of the gaps”).

    Atheists would have us believe “God did it” is ignorant and childish while “shit happens” is the zenith of philosophy. But that’s been considered progress since at least ancient Athens. Alas.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  35. @Drapetomaniac

    Largely agree but I add the third,
    Men need
    Someone to fight
    Someone to fuck
    Something to fix.

    It is the third that created the astonishing technological world we live in.

    Seems to be a drive largely present in European males.

  36. @Wyrd

    If referring to something important enough to spend time on both responses are irresponsible shrugs of the shoulders with brain switched off.

    • Replies: @Wyrd
  37. Wyrd says:
    @Wizard of Oz

    I hear thunder from the mountain
    Trying to split my personality
    I see burning on the hillside
    Darkness till the break of day

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  38. @Wyrd

    If you say so ..

    • Replies: @Wyrd
  39. Wyrd says:
    @Wizard of Oz

    Ilana apparently likes it, so who am I to judge? I imagine she loves Yes albums as any sane person would.

  40. pyrrhus says:

    “Pleased to meet you, won’t you guess my name, oh yeah,
    Puzzling you is the nature of my game….”

  41. @Wizard of Oz

    Emperor Haxo I intends to keep it simple: you do the Evil Deed, you get the punishment. If you didn’t, you walk. There will be no psychological hypotheses, and no “pleas”. “Innocence” will be a positive quantity, not the mere insipid absence of guilt. Lawyers and juries may also be dispensed with

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  42. @Haxo Angmark

    Trial by battle for gentlemen I trust and trial by ordeal for women and villeins.

  43. Perhaps a gene will be found representing empathy. Perhaps this gene will be found missing in some and present in others. The former will appear to be without conscience. I worked in sales for a time until I proved to myself that I was no good at it. I had the feeling that those who were most successful in sales either have something I lack or lack something I have.

    I know nothing for certain regarding good and evil. I can only speak of my own experience.

    Before I was an unsuccessful salesman I was a drunkard. I finally got the cork in the jug at the age of 35. That was 1979. I got sober in AA. I never really believed that alcoholism is a “disease”. But by treating it as if it were a disease I was able to put it behind me. Essential to the cure it turns out are fellowship, confession and prayer and meditation. No doctors. No drugs. No police needed.

  44. David says:

    E.O. Wilson argues in The Social Conquest of Earth that violating a society’s moral code is also an evolutionary construct. It could have been that humans followed their social rules as rigidly as ants follow theirs but that would have been mal-adaptive. The rule-breaking youth of the tribe next door, in their exploration of alternative social constructs, would find more efficient/effective ones, and eventually out-compete the flat-footed, unchanging tribe of law followers. Obviously, it’s a trade-off: too much rule-breaking is also mal-adaptive for humanity.

    St Augustine considers this at length in his anecdote about stealing pears though he doesn’t understand why God would have placed an instinct to break rules into his heart.

    Somewhere H.G. Welles comments that no one leaves a young woman alone with a pair of shears lest she maliciously cut her own hair. That’s an example of how prior generations channeled their rule-breaking instincts.

    • Agree: Stephen R. Diamond
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