The following analysis deals with the nature and source of evil and whether, given our innate motives and moral obligation, we willingly choose to succumb to our desires or are slaves of our passion. From this argument, I intend to show that our human nature requires that we play into our desires in order to affirm our free will. This is not to say that our desires are necessarily evil, but quite the opposite. In some sense, whatever people actually want has some relative value to them, and that all wanted things contain some good. But given that there are so many such goods and a whole spectrum of varying arrangements among them, that there is no way we can conceive anything as embodying an overall good just because it is to some degree wanted by one or a group of persons. In this light, there arises conflict which can only be resolved by a priority system defined by a code, maybe of moral foundations, which allows us to analyze the complexities of human motivation. I do not intend to set down the boundaries of such a notion, nor do I want to answer whether it benefits one to lead a morally good life, but rather want to find out how the constructs of good and evil affect our freedom to choose.
The Starting Point:
Free will can be wholly responsible for my motivation to write this paper. I was really hoping for Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to come out in time to be used as the film for analysis, but to my disappointment, it opened in theaters the day this paper was due. So, I chose to write instead on The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. The films, though not really about our freedom to choose, inspired me to look into the topic of whether it is in our nature to willingly choose the path of evil to gain personal fulfillment. Our motives are not as clear cut as the archetypes portraying good and evil are in the film, but part of me thinks their embodiment in such fantastical creatures as elves, hobbits, orcs, and demons say something about the human desire to approach our weaknesses with understanding and strengths with humility. For if we learn from our mistakes we may grow stronger, while withdrawing from our arrogance, might we refrain from ruling out perfectly possible and desirable changes as impossible. This is the essence of our freedom.
My assumptions are few and hopefully essential. Firstly, the sciences do no...
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... moderation? Could we control the intake of our impulses? Is it so evident that given that freedom to take everything in would saturate one’s desires to point where the person would be compelled to turn the other way? Moderation of the good is, of course, the alternative, and like Plato said, the moral life is ultimately more fulfilling than the immoral one. That being said, I kick myself now for not looking deeper into the ethical dilemma raised by the struggle between good and evil. Still, it does not seem as interesting. The wicked person gets a far higher head-turning quotient, even if that person doe not intend to be so.
Bassham, Gregory and Eric Bronson (eds.) The Lord of the Rings and Philosophy.
Chicago: Open Court, 2003.
Benjamin, Anna and L.H. Hackstaff (tr). St Augustine On the Free Choice of the Will.
Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1964
Fromm, Erich. The Anatomy of Human of Human Destructiveness. London: Jonathan
Jowett, B. (tr). Plato’s Republic. New York: W.J. Black, 1942.
Midgley, Mary. Wickedness. London: Routledge, 1984.
Stent, Gunther S. Paradoxes of Free Will. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society,
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