Bad Apples, Bad Barrels and Bad Barrel-Makers - Why Evil Exists — May 29, 2020
Comment from IBPP Editor: “Bad Apples, Bad Barrels and Bad Barrel-Makers - Why Evil Exists” resonates with many controversial issues in philosophical psychology and the applied psychology of profiling criminal behavior, betrayals of trust, and violations of ethics and morals. Does evil have ontological significance or only exemplifies a reified construct? Are presumed intrapsychic phenomena irrelevant or necessary within a nomological net leading to bad behavior? Does the self and self-identity have ontological significance and, if so, are they stable or mutable—the latter so that there could be goods and bads in each of us. How do interactions among situations and person characteristics fluctuate? And how much political psychology constrained by quantitative and qualitative methods of analysis based on inappropriate assumptions about realities.
Author's Abstract: It’s an age-old question – What makes good people do bad things? The easiest and most palatable answer is individual culpability – a bad person does bad things. It is the answer that puts us at a distance from the bad person and the bad act, and the answer that demands the least from us. There is no action necessary other than adequately dealing with the bad apple. We do not have to question our own behavior. We do not have to change. We do not have to worry. We are not them. But human behavior is more complicated than a silver-bullet linear answer. It is a complex, ever-evolving algorithm of influences. Social psychologist Phil Zimbardo proposed a three-tiered schema of interactive forces that is at once both simple on the surface, but complex in its nuances. As a general explanation it seems straight-forward and intuitive. However, in its application it poses challenges to how we as a society distribute justice and governance.
Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic genres challenge our notions of Aristotelian mimesis vs Anti-mimesis – i.e., In the study of the human condition, does life imitate art or art imitate life? Popular culture, then and now, provides us with examples to depict the circularity of these notions and the psychological importance of exploring this aspect of human nature, particularly the contemplation of our own collective demise. While we recoil in horror at the images these genres portray, we are also morbidly fascinated by them, and we can’t help but ask ourselves . . . Could that really happen? Will that happen?
Comment. Two intellectual traditions help further enlighten as to “The Psychology of Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic Stories”. The first is that of the philosopher Martin Heidegger’s Dasein wherein all of us are each thrown into a facticity including the unexpected and the inevitability of death. The unexpected follows the death of what came before. Death varies by various nothings and somethings. The second is that of the neo-psychoanalyst Melanie Klein’s paranoid-schizoid position. This denotes refers to anxieties, ego defenses, and interpersonal relations arising in the earliest months of life and continuing in various degrees into childhood and adulthood.