The Nature of Evil: Knowledge and Ignorance

Before I begin, I want to ask our dear readers a simple question: What is evil? Or rather, what is your idea of evil?

Of course, I am well aware that the word “evil” itself is subjective. Essentially, each and every one of us has a different idea on how to define “evil”. Considering that even our culture is deeply divided by various factors from our historical disputes with one another to our rather clannish ways, it’s little surprise that we are still confused over which politicians are guilty of being corrupt and are utterly baffled over what we’re supposed to do them when we find them.

However I, for one, will go with Socrates’ idea of what is good and evil. A popular figure in philosophy, Socrates is credited with being one of, if not the, wisest men of his time. Anyway, his take and good and evil was a fairly simple one: Knowledge=Good and Ignorance=Bad.

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Of course, there are quite a few misguided Pinoys out there who adhere to the idea that being knowledgeable is a bad thing. Unfortunately, while this may seem pretentious of me, I consider such ideas not just stupid but border on being evil.

You see, from my own perspective at least, to know what is good, one must first know the truth. Now some truths maybe harsh and sometimes difficult to accept but it is only by knowing the truth can we make a difference. By knowing the truth, we can see where we went wrong and can eventually go on to correct our mistakes and improve ourselves. With truth, we come to understand ourselves and the world around us with greater quality. Through truth, we will know what it truly means to be free because only then would we know what our choices are and what each of them entails.

Ignorance, as I see it, is the source of all evil. You’re welcome to dispute me if you wish but this is an opinion I would prefer to keep. Because, you see, ignorance is the very spirit of apathy. Ignorance is, essentially, choosing not to know or care at all. By not caring, we choose to close our eyes and ears to the truth. When we act without knowledge of the situation and choose not to care, we lose the ability to differentiate what is right from what is wrong. Some of the reprehensible acts committed by human beings stem from either human ignorance or an unwillingness to care about others.

Crimes can be identified through knowledge of the law. When we don’t even know what the laws are because we’re too busy keeping up with misleading teleseryes and the sordid private lives of celebrities, how can we even tell what is or is not a crime? How can we call someone a criminal when we don’t even have a grasp of what a crime is or what it isn’t? Without truth to guide our way, we are ultimately blind and deaf to what is truly good in this world.

20 Replies to “The Nature of Evil: Knowledge and Ignorance”

  1. Again a great piece of art but a bit hypocritical from someone who believes in the power of prayers.

    1. Hi @Robert

      But then why worry about evil if we are advocating nihilism, i.e., nothing after life.
      Why worry about something ephemeral if there is that foundational belief of nothing, the ultimate solution.

      1. Hi Add,
        I am not worrying about things like that (after life). I just find it hypocritical that Grimwald is talking about knowledge and ignorance while he is giving powers to prayers.

        Secondly, I as atheist – do probably evils things in the eyes of (Catholic/Christian) Filipinos. And not once but multiple things and multiple times.

        To name just a few:
        sex before marriage, abortion, divorce.

        To summarize it all up: I think Grimwald should write blogs/articles that also criticize his own religion when talking about knowledge and ignorance. Only then I can and will take him seriously. Untill then he is not my reverence.

      2. @ Robert, ‘Nihilism’ is the old term for ‘Anarchy’.Where did you get that definition from? Mine is according to Mirriam /Webster.

  2. Nice take on an important topic. It is something we encounter day to day in our lives and is a big topic if we want to really explore it. If you don’t mind, could I contribute the following links just in case somebody is interested.

    •• (encyclopedic def of evil)

    •• (am a fan of Peter Kreeft, and I listen when he says something.)

  3. What if evil doesn’t really exist? What if evil is something dreamed up by man, and there is nothing to struggle against except out own limitations? The constant battle between our will, our desires, and our choices?

  4. ?Beauty is in the eye of the beerholder. And now that I am sober, I don’t know if I could define art. (Hehehe). What I know is that when we are presented with a naked woman (or man) in a visual medium we know, or feel, that which is art from that which is “pornographic”. One elevates, or stirs, the mind; the other stirs, not necessarily elevating, the basic instincts. Which is which is what is subjective dependent on culture, background and education. Experts could of course assist in the objective appraisal of that art which can be separated from the fake, or mediocre.

    I don’t think PHL is lacking in talents whether you are talking of visual arts, auditory arts, performing arts, culinary arts, literary arts, aesthetic arts, martial arts, fashion and what have you — even the art of business management and the art of excellence. If given the break, they could all shine in a world class setting. Even Lee Kwan Yew said so, and a good many leaders of our Asian neighbors have said the same thing in private: “Why is there so much talent being wasted in PHL?” Maybe because of frustration with the prevailing political and social conditions in PHL for a long time (to include the crab mentality, parochialism and clanish tendencies of Pinoys), most just opted for the art of mediocrity.

    Paquiao, Charice, Lea Salonga, etc are prime examples. They would not have reached the height of their careers if they remained in the hands of local talent scouts and managers. Just ask any athlete involved in national sports. After Marcos, sports has become the source of big corruption. For every Php10 in the budget, Php7 goes to the discretion of the sport officials and only Php3 goes to the athlete. So an athlete who is entitled to a Php15k per month allowance based on official records only gets Php5k in actuality.

    And yet these officials who manage the budgets for sports use their positions as well to solicit millions in donations from the private sector. None of these donations see their way to augmenting the miserable allowances of the athletes. FIFA, for example, sends annually anywhere from US$two to four million to PHL in order to promote soccer in the grassroots. Have they done that? The big answer is NO. Nobody knows where the money of FIFA goes. Azkal is a private initiative with no support from govt. The many soccer schools that have sprouted as that of the Younghusbands, Borromeo, Ocampo, Chieffy Calindong, etc are all private initiatives. Futbol Funatics have started to bring their kid students during summer to Spain and Singapore to gain international exposure — again, no support at all. No wonder PHL has been more and more sending to the Olympics token delegations. Eventually, we might just be sending officials who would love the junket, and not any athlete at all, to these sport venues. (And to be frank about it, it has gotten much worse under the watch of Peping Cojuangco, who even has the gall to complain that his nephew has neglected sports totally. That PNoy neglected sports, or things related to cultural dev, is a fact, but yet he will always be the first to grab credit from any homecoming international achiever even those he has not given any support.)

    Did you know that there are car companies who see to it that they include Pinoy carphiles in confidential Focus Groups discussing new car designs? The aesthetic sense innate in these guys could spot those designs that could be a hit, or a lemon, in the world, and the companies have been happy with the feedback supplied by this select group. Did you also know that there are at least two completely Pinoy architectural firms who are responsible for some of the beautiful buildings and interior designs in Europe, ME and in Asean? We know that Greenbelt in Makati has won many international awards. Did you know that there are many Pinoys employed by multinational ad agencies? I know, for example, that there is this very creative Pinoy in the ad industry who runs around the world in a private plane, never takes the commercial flights. Just look at the ‘It’s more fun in the PHL’ ad, some prestigious body has given it an award (only problem is that it is.all creative, but no support on the ground so the ad becomes just a waste) Did you also know that one of highest paid chef of celebrities in the US is a Pinoy? Of course, there are many Pinoys worldwide excelling in various fields, known and unknown by the media.

    Point is that there may be some basis for “Pinoy Pride”. Pinoys are aware of, or are even personally acquainted with, talents of world class caliber. There are definitely talents out there, art-wise or otherwise. And yet despite this, PHL is a basket case. This has brought depression and frustration, and so Pinoys let out these irritating barrages of ” Pinoy Pride” every time media takes notice of Pinoy achievers, even in fields and areas of competencies that are insignificant. Probably, there is a thirst to be recognized in shrunken world, where PHL has become a laughing stock. The problem is when they let out these barrages they are actually cheapening whatever achievement has been attained for “Pinoy Pride” connotes things Pinoy. Unfortunately, Pinoy now is synonymous to things corrupt, dishonest, inefficient, dirty, squalid, lazy, stupid, naive, polluted, etc. On that basis, some achievers dont even want Pinoys (apart from the BIR) to know what they have reached. So, we are caught in a vicious circle. We seek an achiever to idolize, so that in having an idol there might be a template to follow in trying to achieve something. Well and good if it is just about giving moral support to each other, but obviously we just stop there. We keep forgetting that achievement is about hard work, consistency, discipline, the fortitude to overcome difficulties, and expertise. And that is where art comes from.

    1. Sorry, Grimwald. This comment is not supposed to be here. This comment is for your earlier article re finding talent in PHL

  5. I see knowledge as a tool, able to use in both constructive and destructive ways.

    Ignorance is but a cause of apathy, another is realization(knowledge).

  6. Evil is just the opposite and absence of Good.
    Evil can be defined in many terms. It depends on your : religion; political belief; religious dogma; or state of mind.

    If you cut the throat of Grimwald; you are evil. But, in times of war, and Grimwald is the enemy. If you cut his throat, you will be given a medal…because, he is the evil enemy.

    Gordon Gecko of the Wall Street movie stated:
    “For lack of better term. Greed is good…” Aquino’s PDAF, DAP, Pork Barrel bribery, are good to him…For us , it is Evil…

      1. I’m still a Christian. “Thou shalt not kill”, states the Ten Commandment of God…killing is evil…

  7. What is evil? It spells backward for live. So live an evil life only here in the country known as Gates of Hell according to Dan Brown.

    If you’ll take a look at the map of our country, it looks like a symbol of Illuminati. :\

    1. I checked out the Dan Brown thing and it seems people can’t get over a *fictional character* in a *story* criticizing Manila. Filipinos really know how to hold exaggerated grudges.

  8. Filipino’s may be the most talented Asians,musically especially, but they are ,at the same time, the most unoriginal….and there-in lies the problem.

  9. I saw on the news that Phivolcs has started warning (again) about a potential strong earthquake that could hit Metro Manila. ( That’s all what the agency can do – Warn and advise. In fairness, I also heard that MMDA is reiterating a metro-wide earthquake drill.

    What about the national government? Ok I know the disaster management agency (acronym too long) is ready because that is their job. What about the local government units? Any word from them on how are they going to take the warning of Phivolcs? Have they responded to MMDA’s invitation? Or if not, then what do they intend to do? Be reactive again?

  10. However I, for one, will go with Socrates’ idea of what is good and evil. A popular figure in philosophy, Socrates is credited with being one of, if not the, wisest men of his time. Anyway, his take and good and evil was a fairly simple one: Knowledge=Good and Ignorance=Bad.

    The whole article is built on the assumption that Knowledge=Good and Ignorance=Bad. However, I disagree with it. Let me start with an example I think everyone will agree.

    We all agree that smoking is bad for ones health, it increases one’s change to have cancer and other respiratory diseases. However there are doctors who smokes (I personally saw some of them). I strongly believe they, as health professionals, know smoking is bad for their health, but why do they still smoke?

    I don’t think ones ignorance measures how evil is he – it’s one value system shows what sort a person is he.

    Essentially, his value system.

    The value system is how the things that a person values are order of how important are they. For our example, these doctors may rather prefer the relief nicotine offers? perhaps it’s too addicting to resist, hence “fulfilling the addiction” weighs more than “being healthy”?

    Another example will be the open air corruption. One will ask why was there no actions taken? Does “personal safety weigh” more than “going against the system”? Turning blind eye on the plight of the society implies knowledge on the plight, one may simply value above facing head on the issue.

    Nonetheless, weighing ones value system, that is, to gauge how good or bad is it is pointless without absolute measurement. With no objective reference, then “how good or bad a system is” is a meaningless question that will get us nowhere (and we can just join the epicureans to eat and drink [and smoke too :-D] for tomorrow we’ll die). Perhaps, humanism will make more sense for a secularist.

    Personally, debates amongst people of diverse belief (value) system on some issues (divorce, abortion, etc) will get to no where unless they start to tackle, compare and evaluate the values systems that shapes ones view on these issues.

  11. There are certain knowledge out there that is better left alone and ignored.

    A certain knowledge that upon receiving, will ultimately destroy a part of his soul.

    Such knowledge can take many forms and be different to each of us.

    We all have one, a pandora’s box.

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