Evil as a Relic – Part 1

Good as well as evil are impressional products of the evolutionary momentum. They come into conflict with each other and as such are to be recognized as separate groups of forces. Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub, each in his own way symbolizes the forces of evil. However, it is a mistake to think that evil is an irreducible active force by itself. Both good and evil are abstractions and have to be seen in their true perspective as inevitable phases in the subhuman and human evolution. Evil is the lingering relic of earlier good. Some impressional tendencies, which were necessary and inevitable at a particular phase, are carried over to the higher phase of evolution and they persist in their existence due to inertia. They hinder harmonious functioning in the new context and appear as evil.

Good as well as evil have an undeniable relationship with the circumstances. No judgment can be passed on the goodness of any action without considering the concrete context in which the judgment is called for. An act which is normally undeniably evil may under special circumstances be not only defensible but praiseworthy. Take for example an exceptional case. Suppose a mother has given birth to a baby and has not her own milk to feed it. The baby has to be fed on cow’s milk, which is very difficult to obtain. A neighbor may have some cow’s milk but the mother knows that he will not part with it for money or for any philanthropic consideration even though he does not need it for himself. Under such circumstances, if a person steals the cow’s milk and feeds it to the new-born baby in order to keep it alive, the act of stealing is in this case not only justifiable but definitely good.

Of course an exception of this type does not make stealing a good act under all circumstances. Normally stealing continues to be evil but in the exceptional case above it has become good. The illustration proves how considerations of good or evil must, in their very nature, be dependent upon circumstances in all the variety of detail which obtains in concrete situations. Good is relative to a concrete context of actual circumstances and so is evil. But for many practical purposes certain trends of action have to be classified as good while other trends of action have to be classified as evil.

Beams, p55

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