Sisyphus and Dahmer

 jake (@insomniaddict) 4 years, 4 months ago

I assume everyone has, at some point in time, had a conversation where Hitler was brought up and used as the definition of pure evil. Sick as he was, I have always seen individuals such as Jeffrey Dahmer or Charles Manson as more fit for being labelled ‘evil’. Hitler got an entire nation to do his bidding because he was an inspiring speaker. He did the horrible things he did because, in his screwed up head, they were to create a better world. Now, some serial killers also believe what they do to be ‘right’, but make no mistake, many of them murder and torture for the sake of momentary pleasure, knowing fully well what they are doing is wrong.

I recently came across Albert Camus’ “The Myth of Sisyphus”. In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was a man punished by the Gods for eternity, cursed to forever roll a heavy boulder up a mountain only to have it roll back down and begin the cycle again. Now, Camus’ take on the myth basically says that Sisyphus can either view this as a punishment and be eternally miserable, or he can understand that his situation will not change, and that he has the ability to make it better only by changing his view. Camus says all humans must be like this. That, essentially, if we have no purpose in life (Camus’s belief), the only purpose we do have is to be happy. Camus believes that if you are satisfied with what you are doing in your life, you are doing right.

My question to all you here at High Existence is, where do you all stand on this subject? Do you agree with Camus? Do you think Camus would consider Hitler and Dahmer good people? Who do you think is worse? Why? I just want to get some new opinions on the subject

May 7, 2014 at 11:33 pm
josephm (772) (@josephm) 4 years, 4 months ago ago

hitler was a puppet

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ThomasB (81) (@thomasbonjj) 4 years, 4 months ago ago

agreed, i don’t think that he had control over his live, in a deeper sense of thinking.

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Subwoofer Stevens (246) (@jakehay) 4 years, 4 months ago ago

Change your screen name bro

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TheSkaFish (962)M (@theskafish) 4 years, 4 months ago ago

@insomniaddict, about Camus, idk. I could see how his view could appeal to a lot of people. But for me personally, I don’t really care for it. I believe that some things are good and some things are bad. Being healthy is better than being sick. Being rich is better than being poor. Being strong is better than being weak. Being free is better than being enslaved. Being able is better than being limited. And so on and so forth.

“he can understand that his situation will not change, and that he has the ability to make it better only by changing his view”

It just sounds so defeatist to me. Again, a lot of people agree with this, even preach it. But what does it do? It teaches people to give up and accept mediocrity. I’m vehemently opposed to things that say, just learn to be happy settling for less.

Don’t take it as a personal attack on you or your character – just my views on the subject.

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Milo (57) (@milo) 4 years, 4 months ago ago

@theskafish,
“he can understand that his situation will not change, and that he has the ability to make it better only by changing his view”

I think it’s more along the lines of, if one is working real hard in life (your job, your school, pushing a rock up a hill), it can become a more pleasant experience by changing your outlook on it. It’s not mediocrity, it’s just the fact that hard work is hard. But it can feel a little easier if you find some satisfaction in what you do. Shit keep working hard and eventually you’ll get a promotion/graduate/take a break while your rock rolls away and you get ready to start pushing it again haha

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TheSkaFish (962)M (@theskafish) 4 years, 4 months ago ago

@milo, that’s an interesting angle I hadn’t considered. If you only look at it as a metaphor for hard work, then sometimes you really can work hard enough and eventually you won’t have to push rocks anymore. Where I take issue with it though, is the part where it says we have to assume that the situation will not change, ever. If it won’t change in the foreseeable future, I could be more understanding of it. But if it won’t change ever, idk. Sure you could accept it, but me, it would just make me angry.

I just hate it when people say “oh just be happy being ordinary/poor/other bad things, just accept it”.

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hmay (0) (@hmay) 4 years, 4 months ago ago

I agree with Camus, and feel that the Sisyphus’ story is a perfect analogy for the human condition. I also find it very inspiring! Like Sisyphus, we generally have little control over many of the variables of life (where we are born, the religion we are raised in, how our families treat us, our access to education, our economic status) and in addition, there is not good reason to believe that each of us has a predestined purpose… so why not create one!? In a situation where one is aware of one’s existence and imminent death, there doesn’t seem to be a simple answer to life’s meaning. How do you make meaning out of pushing a rock up a hill? You get creative. Someone above mentioned “defeatism,” but in my opinion, we are assuming that Sisyphus can’t change his situation, and neither can we. In light of that, creating purpose can be inspiring.

I’m not sure what this has to do with the nature of evil… maybe I’m missing something. I don’t believe in evil as a “thing” but as a word we assign to something disturbing, frightening or threatening. Whether we are talking about Hitler, Manson or Dahmer, there may be elements to their stories we don’t entirely understand. Most humans are born with the ability to empathize and understand others, but not everyone. Evolution is not perfect, and for some serial killers and the like, their behavior is driven by a lack of empathy and a twisted desire to understand someone else (i.e. “if I cut Sally open, I will see her true nature and make a connection”). It could be coming from a basic curiosity. There is also the element of mental illness at play, which those of us who are “sane” can’t really understand. Therefore evil.

If someone can draw the connection between the idea of finding purpose in a purposeless life and the idea of evil, I would be interested.

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JonH (1,139)C (@IJesusChrist) 4 years, 4 months ago ago

The universe is objective – there is no evil or good outside of the mind – and the mind can often be manipulated in ways where one person’s evil is another’s good.

You could argue that Dahmer and Hitler was purely good: Humans are bad, and thus removing bad is good.

Good and evil are subjective things – they can conflict between subjective perspectives. You have Satanists and you have Christians on the same planet, in the same town, subjected to very similar life experiences… yet they are obviously in direct conflict with each other for good and evil.

If you stress yourself over whether or not Dahmer/Hitler were evil or not you’re missing the point. Make your own decision, that’s all there is to it. There is no hidden answer – you create it.

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