Ignorance and evil

4개월 전

When I tell people, paraphrasing Socrates, that ignorance is the root of all evil, I find a lot of adversity, people say things like "many people know what is right but still decide to do evil, so evil it can't be a product of ignorance", and this is only partially correct, and the reason why is the following: If you ask most people, everyone agrees that we should all be a good person, in that there is no doubt, no opposition, but now if you ask the same people what is good, then everyone's answers will vary depending on the beliefs that these people have; people on the left will tell you something different from those on the right; Muslims will tell you something different from Christians or Buddhists; those from this or that country will tell you something different from other countries; and so on ad infinitum, so even though everyone agrees that we should be good, most don't agree on what it means to be good. Many use this to argue that the good is subjective, that people have different opinions about it and that none is more true than the other, but that they are all equally valid, which is a disguised way of saying that they are all false, but this is not really true, because if we used that same argument in any other subject, as for example with mathematics, we would find that this inference is not valid.

If we asked many people how much is 2+2? and many of them said 4, but many others who don't know about arithmetic said random numbers like 3, 5, 18 or even random letters and words, we could not infer hence that addition is something subjective, absolutely false, because when we were to put it into practice in real life and we saw that if we have two apples and we add two to it, we have a total of four apples, then we would realize that it is not true that addition is something subjective, but that many people didn't know what they were talking about. The same happens when we talk about the good, the reality is that although everyone has an opinion about it, most don't know what they are talking about, the proof of that is that if everyone knew the good, there would be more goodness and less evil in this world, but it is not. So when people say that "there are people who know what is good but still decide to do evil" they are not right, because the truth is that these people really don't know what is good. This is Socrates' premise in this regard, that most people, despite talking about what is good and not all the time, really don't know what good is, so they don't act according to it. Nor do they know what justice, courage, fortitude, or other similar qualities are, because the same thing happens with all these ideas as with the good. Socrates himself claimed not to know what these things were, although he was trying to find it out all the time, at least he had an advantage over the rest in knowing that he did not know.

This does not mean that we are all evil because we don't know the good, or cowards, or unjust, etc., there are degrees of ignorance as well as degrees of goodness, an "ignorant" at the level of Socrates, which was used as the prototype of all these virtues in pre-Christian Europe, is not the same that a poor ignorant who is dedicated to theft. There is a difference.

To the extent that we continue to believe we know what we do not know, we will continue to act from a place of ignorance and we will not be doing what is right. Knowing what is good and doing what is truly good will require a higher level of introspection and a greater commitment to the truth, and until we are willing to do this it is to be expected that the world will remain the same chaotic place that it already is.


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