A Socratic Perspective on the Nature of Human Evil

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The nature of human evil does not rest in the mythic explanations of our wrong doing. It cannot be assessed in the measure of the destructiveness of our evil behaviors. The identity or nature of human evil is found in the origin of hurtful behaviors. That origin is misguided instinct (ignorance) and fear. Even when we lack courage or knowledge, we are still being guided by our simple instinct to benefit ourselves. No matter how brutal and terrifying our capacity to destroy one another, we are all just little children trying to find some goodness in our little lives. In all of our moral choosing there is the constant expression of this natural instinct to benefit ourselves and a corresponding instinctual simplicity of innocence that dwells in all humanity. In this Socratic perspective, human fear and ignorance make up the nature of human evil. What is the face of this human evil? Is it the face of a monster? Is it the face of the Devil? No, the face of human evil is the face of every lost and frightened child. It is the face of innocence under stress.

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