This article is one I made a commitment to write but one I struggled with despite the clarity of my thought. I have decided to keep my commitment and put down my ideas to the extent of my current capacity but will revisit this topic in the future when I’m better equipped to express it.
Since time immemorial, humans have sought to determine good from evil through action, purpose, and events. We have within our limitations navigated our ways to the present through various means not so benign. Across cultures, there are different philosophies on the ambiguity of good and evil, and how it relates to existence and actions. Some have come to be more prominent than others through imposition over time such that it is taken as gospel, but is it the best approach? Is it possible there exist other philosophies more align with our needs today? Of the many concepts available, let us consider the following:
- Good vs Evil
- Yin Yang
- Tíbí Tìrẹ
Good vs Evil
Although there are others, the modern world through religion, ethics, philosophy, and psychology is ruled by the belief in the dichotomy of Good and Evil. In cultures with Manichaean and Abrahamic religious influence, evil is usually perceived as the dualistic antagonistic opposite of good, in which good should prevail and evil should be defeated.
In Abrahamic and Abrahamic-influenced cultures and societies, Good and Evil are taken as opposites, eternally at war with each other with good expected as the victor. Good and Evil are taken as parallels with no relation and intersection. In various ways, you can be one thing and not the other. This concept can also be observed in other aspects of existence in today’s world. An aspect of this is how we relate between what is considered Right and Wrong, Positive and Negative, Truth and False, etc.
A not too obvious effect of this principle is in how we view ideas and their utility. From the fallout of history, ideas such as Socialism and Communism are seen as fundamentally evil and flawed, while Democracy and Capitalism have come to be viewed as fundamentally good simply in opposition to those. But is this real or simply a constructed illusion we’ve come to internalise?
This thought is one of the underlying ideological battles of the 21st century. During the last battle of ideology, the victorious culture went on to classify Good and Evil as they saw fit. In the 21st century, these classifications are being challenged as it is continued to be viewed that there were considerations not made regarding the utility of these ideas to the degree permissible.
Yin and Yang is a Chinese philosophical concept that describes how obviously opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate with one another. It is believed Yin and Yang have formed many things including humans – female and male. Many natural dualities are thought of as physical manifestations of the duality symbolised by Yin and Yang including dark and light, fire and water, expanding and contracting, negative and positive, etc.
Yin represents dark on the right and Yang represents light on the left. Yin and Yang are two halves of a whole. They are mutually reinforcing aspects that serve to complement each other and in various ways, they make up for each other’s deficiencies.
This thought influences Daoism – a Chinese school of philosophical thought. A fundamental principle of Daoism is harmony with nature, epitomised by achieving a state akin to water. A state of rest and balance which allows all actions/events positive or negative to flow through you with the flexibility to react accordingly.
In Ifá, a collection of ancient Yorùbá philosophy, It is believed that all things exist in duality. Ifá teaches us that tíbí tìrẹ la da Ile aye – meaning reality was birthed on the principle of the complementary of two opposing forces (negative and positive). Tíbí Tìrẹ represents the complementary duality found in all creation – ideas, concepts, energy, etc.
Tíbí Tìrẹ is similar to Yin Yang with the belief that all things are created in two, pairs meant to reinforce each other – evil and good, yin and yang, negative and positive, female and male, fire and water, etc. This philosophy teaches us that negativity is accompanied by positivity, both sides are complementary, and one cannot exist without the other.
Though some see good and evil as opposites, the Yorùbá believe that good and evil are two peas in a pod and they serve the role to balance each other. Within the pod you extracted good, evil exists and vice versa. It is believed that within good you find evil and within evil, you find some good. The pod that begets one possesses the equal capacity to beget the other. Evil itself is believed to possess the capacity for good, likewise is well capable of evil. They are independent yet intersecting, at times at odds but complementary halves of a whole. They spread infinitely giving rise to each other as their existence elapses.
This principle is also applied to life. Good actions and events though seen for what they are, caution is advised in case of the opposite arising. Also, as one may suffer the negatives of life, it is seen as a herald of good to come in hope that one strives for a better future.
The Utility of An Idea
Ideas are not taken wholesomely as good or evil, but as entities to be expressed within a reasonable limit which differs depending on the idea being expressed. An idea tends to possess a diametrically opposing idea capable of providing a balance that can be applied along with the other in measure to curtail the excesses of each other. The utility of all things can be explored to the degree they are useful while understanding their limitations. Mostly, solutions are a composite of multiple differing ideas individually expressed with reason while taking into account their effect on others within the composite.
The above is my proposition on how solutions are formed by a composition of different ideas each expressed to the degree consider reasonable taking into account all relevant contexts.
Author: Michael (https://asiri.substack.com)