Historum - History Forums  

Go Back   Historum - History Forums > Themes in History > Philosophy, Political Science, and Sociology
Register Forums Blogs Social Groups Mark Forums Read

Philosophy, Political Science, and Sociology Philosophy, Political Science, and Sociology Forum - Perennial Ideas and Debates that cross societal/time boundaries


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old December 5th, 2012, 01:13 AM   #31

Pacific_Victory's Avatar
SEMISOMNVS
 
Joined: Oct 2011
From: MARE PACIFICVM
Posts: 4,735

Quote:
Originally Posted by Naomasa298 View Post
That's certainly true, but it doesn't invalid the label - to apply the label, it must necessarily be judged from a moral standpoint. That there is no objective standard of good and evil doesn't invalid the fact that by many moral frameworks, Hitler would indeed be considered evil. Now, whether or not you agree with those moral frameworks is a different question, IMHO.



Yes, it is.



Some would certainly argue that the teachings of Jesus have indeed inflicted misery and suffering on his fellow human beings. I don't necessarily disagree with that.



By its very nature, it's subjective. I never said it was objective.



It's not a question of whether or not your morality is better or worse than mine. If you killed someone, and I were asked to judge whether that action is evil or not, I would judge it by my standards, not yours - as the person being asked to deliver the judgement, that's the only way I can do it. If I were to be asked whether or not you thought the act was evil, the answer would be different.
Well in that case we are in total agreement. Throughout this thread I have been trying to make this point you so eloquently made in your last paragraph.
Pacific_Victory is offline  
Remove Ads
Old December 5th, 2012, 07:09 AM   #32
Jedi Knight
 
Joined: Nov 2010
From: Indiana
Posts: 4,786

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Lynch View Post
'Evil' was all around Europe but it worked through Hitler more than any other one person there. I believe he accepted evil into his life and it used the soul of this scared and angry young man like a puppet. In other words, yes, I believe Hitler was evil and worked to convince others to work for evil.
Very well put!
Mike McClure is online now  
Old December 5th, 2012, 07:46 AM   #33
HBT
Suspended indefinitely
 
Joined: Oct 2012
From: Somewhere between madness and apathy
Posts: 55
Blog Entries: 1

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Lynch View Post
...'Evil' was all around Europe but it worked through Hitler more than any other one person there...
Was Hitler any more 'evil' than Stalin? Both were contemporary and both were responsible for pursuing extreme ideologies which ultimately caused the deaths of millions of people.

Is Hitler and the policies he invoked abhorrent? Yes.

Does the fact that Hitler and his atrocities are still a living memory for some people, affect whether we view them as 'evil'?

Perhaps.

Throughout history there have been people who have been described as tyrants and these people were responsible for pursuing ideologies and agendas which led to genocide, murder and rape. I concede the point that they did not do so on the scale that Hitler (or Stalin) did.

However, I think that history has a habit for looking for redeeming features in historical people.

A wee bit of a strange statement?

Maybe, but was the Roman Empire viewed as 'evil' by the peoples it subjugated?

Rather than apply labels, we need to ensure that the deeds of this particular tyrant are not allowed to be redeemed by history. In my opinion, this can only happen through education and remembrance, not labels.
HBT is offline  
Old December 5th, 2012, 08:21 AM   #34
Lecturer
 
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 457

Quote:
Originally Posted by HBT View Post
Was Hitler any more 'evil' than Stalin?
Yes, at least as far as I'm concerned. Being chiefly responsible for the bloodiest war in history and systematically exterminating people by the millions simply for what they were born as strikes me as more evil than anything Stalin did.

Additionally, there is no "positive" side to Hitler's legacy, something that's not necessarily the case with Stalin--Stalin can take credit for industrializing the Soviet Union (although he employed extremely brutal methods which may not even have been necessary) and leading the USSR to victory over Nazi Germany (although there's a debate over whether the Soviets prevailed because of him or in spite of him). Hitler's legacy, on the other hand, is unambiguously and totally negative.
Olustee is online now  
Old December 5th, 2012, 08:28 AM   #35
Suspended indefinitely
 
Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 19,934

Evil most definitely exists.

It may be largely relative, but it is clear few people all along History would be as universally considered as pure evil as Herr Hitler.

Admittedly, one of the reasons it is so is because the balance of his actions hardly benefited anyone all around this Planet, certainly hardly so even among whoever may be identified as "Aryan" among the German people themselves.

BTW totally au contraire of other brutal figures like let say Uncle Joe, who after all was instrumental for the victory of the Soviet Union in the greatest war ever for literally their own physical survival and in stopping the Axis expansion.

(Unless of course anyone here would truly believe that the World conquest by the III Reich would have been any better scenario than the historical victory of the Soviets and their western Allies)

Arguably this particular fact (the ostensible absence of actual benefits from Herr Hitler's actions for virtually any extant nation or society) was presumably largely explained because he was effectively defeated.

Otherwise, had he (against all odds) succeeded on universal conquest, it seems quite likely that there would always have been at least some groups that could have adopted the Panglossian conviction that the balance of his actions would have been ultimately beneficial, ergo good for them.

Analogous to let say the Catholic Monarchs of Castile & Aragon after their genocidal activities against the Spanish Jews, Muslims and converses in the XV century.
Or let say like the arguably even more genocidal Albigensian Crusade.

But Herr Hitler was historically defeated, and largely due to his own blunders; period.

Last edited by sylla1; December 5th, 2012 at 08:34 AM.
sylla1 is offline  
Old December 5th, 2012, 08:47 AM   #36
HBT
Suspended indefinitely
 
Joined: Oct 2012
From: Somewhere between madness and apathy
Posts: 55
Blog Entries: 1

Quote:
Originally Posted by Olustee View Post
Yes, at least as far as I'm concerned. Being chiefly responsible for the bloodiest war in history and systematically exterminating people by the millions simply for what they were born as strikes me as more evil than anything Stalin did...
So Stalin didn't have people killed because they were Jewish, homosexual or ideologically and politically opposed to him? What about his annexation of Poland alongside Hitler; did that not contribute to starting the Second World War?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Olustee View Post
...Additionally, there is no "positive" side to Hitler's legacy, something that's not necessarily the case with Stalin--Stalin can take credit for industrializing the Soviet Union (although he employed extremely brutal methods which may not even have been necessary) and leading the USSR to victory over Nazi Germany (although there's a debate over whether the Soviets prevailed because of him or in spite of him). Hitler's legacy, on the other hand, is unambiguously and totally negative.
Couldn't agree more. However; whilst it is overwhelmingly apparent nowadays that there was no "positive" side to Hitler's legacy, who can say what historians of the future will decide.

We have to ensure that they can't 'spin' a good side to Hitler.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sylla1 View Post
Evil most definitely exists.

It may be largely relative, but it is clear few people all along History would be as universally considered as pure evil as Herr Hitler.

Admittedly, one of the reasons it is so is because the balance of his actions hardly benefited anyone all around this Planet, certainly hardly so even among whoever may be identified as "Aryan" among the German people themselves....
Unfortunately, there are people today who would disagree with you and point to certain aspects of the Third Reich's activities which may or may not have had a benefit to people around the world.

Their despicable medical experiments for example.

Again, what we need to ensure is that people are not allowed to grasp things like this and use them as a shining beacon to 'improve' Hitler's legacy.
HBT is offline  
Old December 5th, 2012, 09:27 AM   #37
Historian
 
Joined: Oct 2012
Posts: 3,076

Quote:
Originally Posted by HBT View Post
So Stalin didn't have people killed because they were Jewish, homosexual or ideologically and politically opposed to him? What about his annexation of Poland alongside Hitler; did that not contribute to starting the Second World War?



Couldn't agree more. However; whilst it is overwhelmingly apparent nowadays that there was no "positive" side to Hitler's legacy, who can say what historians of the future will decide.

We have to ensure that they can't 'spin' a good side to Hitler.



Unfortunately, there are people today who would disagree with you and point to certain aspects of the Third Reich's activities which may or may not have had a benefit to people around the world.

Their despicable medical experiments for example.

Again, what we need to ensure is that people are not allowed to grasp things like this and use them as a shining beacon to 'improve' Hitler's legacy.
Who are you to dictate how the future views the problems of our past. As long as emotions connected to the war exist, our analysis is not fit to be considered history. Will Hitler's genocide be counted worse than the Spanish Inquisition, the Harrowing of the North, or the sack of Carthage by future historians? Maybe, but we're too emotionally invested to objectively make this comparison today. Once the war fades from living memory (at least another century) we may be able to sit and talk about these events as history, unhindered by propaganda, be it allied, communist, or axis.

As for good and evil, those are somewhat meaningless perspectives. I'm sure those who suffered under Nazi oppression were not too fond of Hitler...for very good reason. However, without Hitler the industrial might of Europe and her empires may not have been so utterly destroyed, America may never have become a power outside the Pacific. Sharing the victory with the Soviets was definitely an inconvenience, but all's well that ends well and the Soviet Union no longer exists. So American power in the world, and by extension most likely my standard of living, has increased as a result of the war Hitler started...so I'm not quite sure why I would have reason to complain personally.

Every major action like those Hitler took, whether 'good' or 'evil' will shape the future of the world...and only the centuries can tell whether it is for better or worse.
constantine is offline  
Old December 5th, 2012, 09:34 AM   #38
HBT
Suspended indefinitely
 
Joined: Oct 2012
From: Somewhere between madness and apathy
Posts: 55
Blog Entries: 1

Quote:
Originally Posted by constantine View Post
Who are you to dictate how the future views the problems of our past. As long as emotions connected to the war exist, our analysis is not fit to be considered history. Will Hitler's genocide be counted worse than the Spanish Inquisition, the Harrowing of the North, or the sack of Carthage by future historians? Maybe, but we're too emotionally invested to objectively make this comparison today. Once the war fades from living memory (at least another century) we may be able to sit and talk about these events as history, unhindered by propaganda, be it allied, communist, or axis.

As for good and evil, those are somewhat meaningless perspectives. I'm sure those who suffered under Nazi oppression were not too fond of Hitler...for very good reason. However, without Hitler the industrial might of Europe and her empires may not have been so utterly destroyed, America may never have become a power outside the Pacific. Sharing the victory with the Soviets was definitely an inconvenience, but all's well that ends well and the Soviet Union no longer exists. So American power in the world, and by extension most likely my standard of living, has increased as a result of the war Hitler started...so I'm not quite sure why I would have reason to complain personally.

Every major action like those Hitler took, whether 'good' or 'evil' will shape the future of the world...and only the centuries can tell whether it is for better or worse.
Who am I?

No-one.

But please point out exactly where I've dictated how the future should view the past. It's my opinion that we shouldn't allow it to be glossed over and glorified, and I've expressed that.

If you would have the future have a better opinion of Hitler than the present, then that is your view.

But thanks for backing up my opinion that our view of Hitler as evil could be a result of his atrocities being within '...living memory...'.
HBT is offline  
Old December 5th, 2012, 10:07 AM   #39
Historian
 
Joined: Oct 2012
Posts: 3,076

Quote:
Originally Posted by HBT View Post
Who am I?

No-one.

But please point out exactly where I've dictated how the future should view the past. It's my opinion that we shouldn't allow it to be glossed over and glorified, and I've expressed that.

If you would have the future have a better opinion of Hitler than the present, then that is your view.

But thanks for backing up my opinion that our view of Hitler as evil could be a result of his atrocities being within '...living memory...'.
Sorry, when I reread what I'd posted, it had come across a little more hostile than intended...should have used the first person plural instead of second person singular in my first sentence. No offence intended.

Though I do have concerns about using history as a morality lesson. Or even letting our morality colour our view of past events. History is too subjective as it is and introducing blatantly subjective concepts like morality doesn't help matters.
constantine is offline  
Old December 5th, 2012, 10:07 AM   #40

Robespierre's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 1,440

My problem with the terms good and evil is that it seems like a gross simplification of an individual.

It's easy to say "X Person" was evil and just leave it at that. If you take someone into modern terms, you have to explore the person to see the negative traits. It's not hard to do with Hitler, which might make it a bad example, because even non-historians know a great deal about him.

Can't a person be wrong for each decisions they make as opposed to just using a blanket term?

And it's an overused term. Look how Webster's defines the word. Even a smell can be considered evil. The other day my nephew said that my cat was evil because it had a strange expression on his face. Is Hitler now being equated to a cat with a strange expression on his face?

I think you have to look at Hitler's decisions one-by-one, as best you can. You have to look up the social setting he was brought up in. You have to consider his intention along with his mental illness. As historians we have to show context to an individual. We can't just say he's evil and be done with it.

Of course, you can do all that I listed above and come to the conclusion that he was evil. That's fine. Then that means you believe evil exists in the world. Personally I'm not even sure what that means. People exist in the world, they do bad things, and people label that as evil. Men are evil. Women are evil. The United States is evil. Cats are evil. It's a label. I think it's a meaningless label. You can express the same thing by going over the facts.

When you bring up the term evil it evokes a kind of devil or supernatural element. I'd rather stay on a more rational field. Besides, what is evil? We can't even agree it exists but what about the definition? There's not a lot of agreement there either. It's not a word that has scientific merit.

Maybe Hitler was supernatural. But how would you prove that? You can prove his character by going over his decisions and his life. But you can't prove much of anything by saying someone is evil.

It's a word that evokes great emotion but doesn't have basis in fact.
Robespierre is offline  
Reply

  Historum > Themes in History > Philosophy, Political Science, and Sociology

Tags
evil, hitler


Thread Tools
Display Modes


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Evil Salah Philosophy, Political Science, and Sociology 57 May 11th, 2012 03:54 PM
When did Germans realize Hitler was the evil one? Stephan European History 112 June 14th, 2011 06:37 AM

Copyright © 2006-2013 Historum. All rights reserved.