Why there is no “scientific” explanation for evil

Recently, there have been a number of attempts to use science to make evil intelligible. Canadian columnist David Warren reflects here regarding a recent riot in Vancouver:

I am trying to draw attention to the very "zero" at the heart of that mob, and ultimately, any violent mob. The participants behave in ways that are finally unintelligible. To say they behave as animals would be unfair to animals, which are purposeful, and even merciful by comparison. (What they have no business with, they leave alone.)

It's not that the books don't explain anything. They tend to explain – either well or badly- how sociopaths or people with autism behave. And what they explain isn't the evil and doesn't finally shed much light on it.

The question isn't whether science can do it. Nothing can. The project is like trying to come up with a rational value for pi, which is irrational by nature.

The best that can be done is to shed more light on the circumstances under which people are led to do evil.

See also: "Slacker sociopath" says "Science of Evil" empathy test flawed

Humans evolved to get revenge

Evolutionary psychology has a go at autism

Evil as "empathy deficit disorder"

Denyse O'Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.

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