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, 10:23 AM   #41
HBT
Suspended indefinitely
 
Joined: Oct 2012
From: Somewhere between madness and apathy
Posts: 55
Blog Entries: 1

Quote:
Originally Posted by constantine View Post
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.
No probs.

What you've said has some validity, but if we take the moral aspects out of history, then all we have are facts.

And to me, if we can't understand why something happened, or at least try and understand the morals behind some of those actions, then we don't fully understand it.
HBT is offline  
Remove Ads
Old December 5th, 2012, 10:23 AM   #42
Historian
 
Joined: Jul 2012
From: Italia
Posts: 1,844

From an uthilitarian perspective, yes. From a moral one, it depends on the system with which you wanna judge him.

Though I think that the judgement towards the nazis is unfair, since it's excessing negative and doesn't take account of the age in which they existed
The merchant of Venice is offline  
Old December 5th, 2012, 11:19 AM   #43
Suspended indefinitely
 
Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 19,934

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robespierre View Post
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.
That's a valid point.

Had Herr Hitler died in 1938, a good deal of his actions so far (hardly all!) would have been remembered as positive by several groups, beginning with many opponents of Communism.
sylla1 is offline  
Old December 5th, 2012, 11:51 AM   #44

AlpinLuke's Avatar
Knight-errant
 
Joined: Oct 2011
From: Lago Maggiore, Italy
Posts: 8,488
Blog Entries: 11

After the end of WW II the Western intelligences recruited former SS members as counter communist units in the great game of cold war. One of the most known example of this curious "forgetful policy" was Klaus Barbie. Not no remember Skorzeny ...

But these are cases of "opportunity" [the enemy of my enemy can be an ally of mine ... temporary]. SS members, Gestapo officers ... all potentially good anti communism units in the obscure underground environment of espionage.

But policy follows the tremendous law of the "minor damage", not the "absolute moral laws" [if there are any in a lay world ...].

[Better a former Nazi under control who faces the communists than a communist victory in Germany, at least from the perspective of Western intelligences, clear].

Nothing can change the global judgment about those individuals.

Evil, at the end, is not that difficult to detect.

No supernatural powers or blind destiny forced Hitler to take the decisions he took after 1938 [starting with the racial laws]. He decided ...

The "what if" exercise is always interesting. If Gandhi died at 20 we would have never heard about the "Great Soul" ...

Hitler is not the person who lived until 1938, in his correspondence with the Italian Duce is clear he considered himself like the Austrian Emperors [alone against all, at least in his own view] with a kind of mission.

Hitler is the person who died in 1945 at Berlin.
AlpinLuke is offline  
Old December 5th, 2012, 12:27 PM   #45
Supended myself
 
Joined: Sep 2012
From: Valles Marineris, Mars
Posts: 4,829

I am not so sure if he is really evil, but he indeed did improve the Germany.
Gorge123 is offline  
Old December 5th, 2012, 12:43 PM   #46
Suspended indefinitely
 
Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 19,934

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlpinLuke View Post
Hitler is the person who died in 1945 at Berlin.
Exactly why he must be held responsible for his actions and failures up to his last day.
sylla1 is offline  
Old December 5th, 2012, 02:14 PM   #47

BRIAN GOWER's Avatar
Glo Caled
 
Joined: Oct 2011
From: Gwendraeth Valley, Carmarthenshire, Wales.
Posts: 2,489

I've never really met anyone evil and if I met him I might have liked Hitler...as children and animals did apparently; besides I find it hard to dislike people. I believe if Hitler had read the OP he would have maintained that he had been sent by Providence to combat evil, behind which was world Jewry. That's the trouble with so many political and religious world shattering figures: they are convinced they are doing God or Nature's work or are on the side of scientific determinism. They are the good guys, true to their cause and not evil, and we are the problem because we simply cannot see that.
BRIAN GOWER is online now  
Old December 5th, 2012, 02:20 PM   #48
Supended myself
 
Joined: Sep 2012
From: Valles Marineris, Mars
Posts: 4,829

If I was a German in ww2 I would of liked him. comes from different point of views.
Gorge123 is offline  
Old December 5th, 2012, 02:49 PM   #49

Rasta's Avatar
Spiritual Ronin
 
Joined: Aug 2009
From: Minnesnowta
Posts: 19,595

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robespierre View Post
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.
I entirely agree. Evil is often an overly simplistic term that seeks to alienate oneself from the target rather than seeking to understand the target.

I would say that evil exists subjectively but all this means is "terribly inconsistent". Gengis Khan did essentially the same thing Hitler did, yet we find his behavior more excusable.
Rasta is offline  
Old December 5th, 2012, 04:21 PM   #50

Panthera tigris altaica's Avatar
In latrine Rex
 
Joined: Aug 2011
From: Texas
Posts: 5,447
Blog Entries: 3

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pacific_Victory View Post
Well it is hard to leave out moral judgments when discussing good and evil. Essentially, discussing the results will only lead back to the same questions anyway.

ie. Hitler is at least partially responsible for the murder of over 6 million Jews. Genocide is evil, therefore Hitler is evil.

All we have essentially done is to shift the word evil from Hitler to Genocide, and then connect him to that.

While I agree that the results of his actions were bad, I make this judgment from my own personal morality.
Yes, i get your point now. Evil is in the eye of the beholder. What i meant is to putting aside our modern personal moral objections and just look at from a historical point of view. I don't see him as evil only because of my personal views of morality, but i do see him as violating a lot of the ethics for universal ideas of morality. I believe that it transcends the idea of nationalism and touches upon what it means to be human. If this makes any sense?
Panthera tigris altaica 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.