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|Posted: Sat Apr 15, 2017 10:02 am Post subject: Evil for evil's sake
|The quasi-consensus in philosophy is that it is impossible to do evil for its own sake. And from the psychology/psychiatry angle, sociopathology is about the absence of good attitudes/motives instead of the presence of intrinsically bad ones, the amoralist instead of the antimoralist.
To my knowledge, only Kant has an actual explanation for why pure evil is impossible (for us, in the motivational sense---physically we can do anything terrible under the sun), but the explanation trades off an ambiguity:
Imagine that X is some specific evil action, like theft. Then consider the following:
1. I will do X for its own sake.
2. I will steal for the sake of stealing.
3. I will do X/steal for the sake of the fact that it is evil.
I know, 1 & 2 are the same, ultimately, but anyway, the thing is, what Kant argues against is 3. That's the sense in which pure evil is impossible for us.
So now what if we believe that X is evil but do it for its own sake? Is that possible? If it is, would it be possible for us to do evil for evil's own sake? Or are we still speaking of some lesser malice?
EDIT: Revised listing...
1. I will do X for its own sake [and I am an amoralist].
2. I will do X for its own sake, and I don't believe it's wrong to do it.
3. I will do X for its own sake, and I believe it's wrong to do it.
4. I will do X for the sake of the fact that it is wrong and I don't believe it's wrong to do it.
5. I will do X for the sake of the fact that it is wrong, and I believe it is wrong to do it.
But adding in the factive term seems to render the first clause of the sentence an assertion of belief, so 4 is self-contradictory (kinda like Moore's "It's raining but I don't believe that it is").