Hello, I'm a philosophy-lover, have a degree in something philosophy-related, and so know a thing or two about it. Definitely not an expert but since it's quite under-studied I might have good stuff to share with you and help you with.
Mmmmm. . . I have a demon in a roleplay, upsetting an angel. I'd like you to examine the roleplay (here's the link: https://www.notebook.ai/forum/limited/panic-at-the-opera-closed-group/page-3#post_2719105) and tell me if my demon is entirely justified in doing what he's doing. I've been writing morally grey characters that are relatable for so long I've lost sight of what is and isn't okay, lmao.
Following because philosophy is also my jam and I would like to learn more about it :)
@Dayzed Yay, a fellow philosophy jammer. :) I saw you quoted Thus Spoke Zarathustra in your profile, such an interesting read.
@Jaiden-is-dating-Nyx! I read your roleplay! It's definitely starting to get into the nitty gritty of what good and evil actually are and I'm enjoying it. Before I can answer your question definitively I'd probably need more info about what the demon's spell is specifically and what will happen to the girl when he uses her for it, and also more specifics about the angel's plan. But for now I could get you started on thinking about what good and evil actually are.
There are three major positions that I think most people might fall into on this issue:
- Neither good nor evil exist. Everything that appears like good and evil are merely social constructs. Usually people who believe this lack a belief in God(s) and so there is no such thing as a "good" creator that made everything "good."
- Good and evil both exist and are two separate "forces" (for lack of a better word). Some believe they're equally strong forces, some don't. I think both theists and atheists could potentially believe something like this.
- Good and evil exist, but only good REALLY exists, and evil is merely a "privation of the good" (this is the terminology used by those who believe this). Another way you could say it is that evil relies on good to exist, but good does not rely on evil to exist. Good exists on its own, and evil merely twists what is good. This is the most difficult one to understand so I'll explain it further. This one relies upon being a theist, I believe. Basically, if you think that God created everything and that God is good, then therefore everything God created is good. God cannot create anything evil since evil is the opposite of what is good. It isn't logical to say something evil was "born" from something good. But then how to you explain evil? It's still technically around, right? Yes, this isn't just a sneaky version of paradigm #1. That's where evil being a "privation" of the good comes in. That just means that evil is something that works to deprive good things of their goodness. You can also think of it like evil is the thing that twists and breaks the good, but it can never fully destroy the good. There's always going to be a little good left, since existence itself is good (because, again, if God is good and created all that exists, then existence is a good thing at the very least). An analogy that helps me understand this position goes like this: imagine a wall or a vase as a thing that came into existence because a good god or gods made it. How that god or gods intended it to exist, how that god wanted it to behave, all that stuff, is what we call "good." Think of evil like cracks in the wall or cracks in the vase. Cracks can only exist if something is there to crack in the first place. Even further, what is a crack but empty space? Yes, it kind of exists since we can see the cracks, but it doesn't possess the same kind of realness, the same kind of existence, as the wall or the vase. If you were to expand the crack all the way until it swallowed up the whole wall, there would be no wall and also no crack! There would just be Nothing. And Nothing is Nothing is Nothing. Evil finishing its work basically leads to nonexistence. That's another way of saying that at the very least existence is good. Therefore, evil doesn't really exist like the wall or vase and it certainly can't exist on its own.
I didn't really edit the above so just ask me if something doesn't make sense haha.
I'd say choose which paradigm of good and evil you're going for as you write the angel vs demon story. If you go with the first option, then basically what's happening is a war between two gods (Satan and God) and their servants, and neither is right or wrong, but instead it's just a battle to see who is strongest. You might arguably also say that since good and evil are a social construct, then you need a society in order to maintain the ideas of good and evil. So both Satan and God would have a vested interest in keeping society alive. Or you could say God is the only one who wants to keep human society alive, and Satan couldn't care less. Some ideas!
If you go with the second option, that good and evil are equal but opposite forces (or maybe you want to say that good is slightly stronger and so will win in the end or something), then that also requires that Satan and God be almost like two competing gods rather than God having created Satan (cuz remember, good can't create evil). This is like many other religions. For this one you just have to decide what the morals are of the world the angel and demon are in yourself and then play it out accordingly.
If you choose the third option, then basically you need to go with the principle that everything and everyone has a scrap of goodness left in them just based on the fact that they exist at the very least. So that would mean Satan has tiny tiny remnants of goodness left in him and stuff like that. Then that leads to having to decide what the theory of reward and punishment should be (whether you go to heaven or hell), which is basically two options. 1) As long as you did more good than evil in your life, you're going to heaven. This is like balancing scales. 2) You have to be perfectly good in order to go to heaven, because God is perfectly good and even a scrap of evil can't be around him (this is why Christians believe you can't get to heaven on your own and you have to trust in Jesus who paid the penalty for your sins in your place).
Hope these things give you some ideas and starting points on where to take your roleplay, and also how to craft your other stories! If you have any more questions I'd be happy to keep on answering! Also let me know if I completely bombed your question and didn't really answer what you were asking lol.
(Most definitely! I also love how in-depth you went in your reply here! I found everything very intriguing as I was raised in a Pentecostal household and usually you're not allowed to ponder such things)
(@Dayzed Yeah I thought it was super intriguing when I first explored these things and especially when I was first told that some philosophers believed that evil wasn't "real" and I was like :0 surely not! But I think I get it now haha. It's one of the ways you can solve the "problem of evil." But it also begs the question "if evil doesn't have the same existence as good and is merely a 'crack' in the good, how did the first crack get made?? Who did it???" and stuff like that. I haven't gone hard core into trying to answer that one yet but I'm wondering if it has something to do with free will and the potential to do evil always being there if beings are truly "free"? Idk! It's fun stuff to play out and see where different theories go. That's upsetting that you weren't really allowed to ponder these things. :/ I can sort of relate because my Christian church when I was a kid wasn't so good at entertaining my questions and sort of believed that questioning meant you were doubting God and doubting God is EVIL!!! (lol), but I got lucky and was born to parents who let me question everything.)
(In my experience, good and evil aren't codependent concepts. Without evil you can't do good because there's no good to do, since evil doesn't exist, but evil can exist without good, and therefore can cause problems for everyone. I believe that this is why we see so much corruption and greed in the world and not much of the other stuff, because human nature is inclined to naturally want more due to the evolution of society as a whole and because social philosophies dictate that we must always strive to get the most out of everything. Humans everywhere, even the so called "good ones," are guilty of this. Plus, good in itself is an acceptable for of selfishness, since many people only do "good things" to get recognized by those around them. That's why I don't believe in God, actually. Because if He did exist. . . well, the Bible says he created humans in his image. So He's just as naturally greedy as humanity itself is.)
(Yeah that's an understandable position. I would just ask, does a god have to be good in order to exist? Lots of religions have imagined their gods to be more like the way we see humans behave. Also, are you saying basically the opposite of paradigm #3, that the default is evil and not good, and that good needs evil to exist but evil doesn't need good to exist?)
(oh also I'm not trying to sound combative and I'm not trying to argue for a position, I just like to ask questions and explore all the possibilities :) I don't want anything to turn into a debate though so I won't cross examine anyone or anything. This can be a touchy subject sometimes and it's difficult to argue online in a genuine manner imo. My goal with offering my philosophy help is to present lots of different philosophical "takes" on things and hopefully get people thinking more deeply about what they believe and how to use philosophy in their stories. I'll leave it at those questions I asked above, I'm not trying to attack you heh)
(No, because Set from Egyptian mythology has always been a sort of evil god, or Loki from Norse mythology. But one would think that a god such as Abraham's god, who preaches equality and love, wouldn't stoop to the level a human would. And yeah, I am saying that. Basic human nature requires me to believe that humans, by default, have to learn to be good but are born with the ability to be evil.)
(And I don't necessarily believe this view on good and evil. I'm trying to get people to maybe see why I would say something like this. I'm not religious, but my views on life align alot with some of Chritianity's original testaments.)
(@Masterkey XD I get that, when it's all new stuff you're literally astonished about so many new takes, it makes me want to read more and more! and exactly!! how did it get there?? I think that free will definitely has a lot to do with it, though I've also wondered if there is such a thing as free will? Mostly because if God is real and if what the bible says is also real, letter for letter, then everything is predestined. God already has everything panned out to a T, so then where does our free will go? Maybe I don't fully understand it, as it's also been a while since I picked up a bible lmao so maybe I'm getting some things wrong. Either way, I like to believe that there is no such thing as a god because it doesn't cause so much turbulence in my soul XD But yeah, tragic really, but now that I'm older and can think for myself, only having parted ways recently from my mom's religion, I find myself relating more to certain philosophies, they make a lot of sense! Or at least certain books that I'm reading I'll get really excited because they managed to put my thoughts into words!! It's so nice really. And that's exactly how it is here! Basically, you shouldn't question God because he knows all and doesn't need to be questioned, that always confused me a little, never understood that. But I'm glad you had parents that let you question certain things! It's always nice when you're allowed to speak your mind without any repercussions)
(@Jaiden-Is-Engaged-To-Nyx! omg I just noticed your profile name changed, congrats! Sorry for not getting back to you for awhile. Thanks for your thoughts, they were interesting to me. I haven't met someone with that exact take before.)
(@Dayzed thanks for your reply, I liked reading it but didn't respond promptly heh. Well here I am now. I relate with a lot of what you said. The free will vs predestination debate is a heated one outside AND inside Christian circles. I actually think the verses in the Bible that support free will basically balance out the verses that support predestination, so the debates get REALLY heated lol. I think that philosophically there isn't perfect free will (since that could only belong to God as the only one with all power and thus no constraints if he exists), but that from our perspective we are mysteriously responsible for our own actions despite the fact that predestination is also a thing. Basically, whether you're a theist or not, you kind of have to believe in the paradox of knowing things have been technically determined from the big bang (although I've heard interesting scientific arguments for free will but we don't hafta get into that. Just letting you know they exist) but then also intuitively knowing that you choose freely a lot of the time and feel responsible for your bad or good actions. I'm personally okay with believing a paradox is true when every other explanation makes less sense than holding the two seemingly contradictory facts together. Basically that's the difference between a contradiction and a paradox, that one is literally saying there's a contradiction, and the other is saying there is the appearance of a contradiction.)
(yeah! i love the way you worded all of this, i absolutely agree! those scientific arguments for free will sound like they could be very interesting! but yes, definitely a very debated subject, i'm kind of in the middle of everything just like you. i think there could be free will in the sense that we choose to do certain things, but also that there is none because of how everything falls into place with God, if he's out there, basically just summarizing what you just said haha it gets very confusing if you keep thinking about it, but it's nice to see what others think, especially those outside of the Christian circle, you always get some really good takes that you wouldn't have thought of yourself)