Gulfstream, ethics and dialectics

Mark Jones markjones011 at
Mon Dec 9 09:34:54 MST 2002

James Daly wrote:

>the case of a convinced Nazi submarine
> Captain, whose aim is Aryan supremacy, and who perhaps has a Nietzschean
> attitude to his crew, would be different.

This raises an interesting question about the nature of good and evil and
why a Creator who is both omnipotent and benevolent permits the existence of
evil (the central conundrum of Judaeo-Christian theology).

Maybe it's because intentionality and result may be completely dissociated,
good intentions producing bad results and vice versa, and even that the
perfection of His plan actually requires absolute evil as an indispensable
progenitor of good. For example, as Melvyn Bragg was just now saying on his
programme about the genesis of the English language, a bad king (King John)
fought an unjust war (in 1204, against France) as a result of which he lost
Normandy and most of his other French lands. Later, the Black Death which
began in England in 1349, wiped out a third of the population, selectively
affecting the professional and learned classes worse than the peasantry. The
effect of these two catastrophes, which all contemporaries who were not
French thought were unmitigated evils, paradoxically was greatly beneficial
to the downtrodden English masses and crucially helped to save the English
language. After the Norman Conquest, English (then the only written
vernacular in Europe) had been in danger of extinction. French and Latin
were made the official languages for three centuries after 1066 and English
ceased to be a written language at all. But after 1204 the French-speaking
aristocracy lost contact with their French branches and began to marry
Englsih wives. Their children grew up speaking English. And the extirpation
of the French and Latin speaking monks, lawyers and court officials during
the Black Death helped restore English as the official language of the
state, making it the mother tongue of the ruling classes, and the language
of Chaucer and Shakespeare.


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