The Nature of Evil: Humans, Coronavirus and Addiction

Rolling around lately in my mind has been strange juxtapositionings of ethical dynamics.

This started because I began to ponder statistics of human deaths. And then pondering the emotional response to the coronavirus thing, an interesting situation presents itself.

Let me see if I can spell it out in a simple way without getting too long in the post.

Recently I posted a few statistics about other types of deaths that occur in our day. What strikes me about comparing the number of deaths for any particular topic is that they are all relatively similar, at least, similar in regard to that really only a small fraction of people actually die while the overwhelming majority of people actually live.

So I had to keep present in my mind a certain kind of ethics in thinking about these human beings. While I was pondering these kind of abstract intellectual numbers I kept having to remind myself that I’m supposed to be feeling bad because people are dying. I had to remind myself that I cry almost every day because one person I was very close to died not too long ago– but not from coronavirus.

Nevertheless. Let’s just ponder a few large categories of major killers in our global society. Cancer; murder; drugs. Let’s do drugs — the category. Lol.

Those are the categories I considered to compare to coronavirus. And I think I conveyed in another post that I talked to a doctor friend of mine about statistics having to do with these categories and coronavirus, and he quickly pointed out at least so far as the drug overdoses that drugs involve a choice where as coronavirus doesn’t have anything to do with choice except that we can try to take precaution so we don’t get it.

This struck me as particularly insensitive, ignorant (coming from a doctor just goes to show that a medical degree does not necessarily denote great intelligence) and basically judgemental about the people who die from drug overdose.

And this continuing to be rolling around in my head, I was struck by the contrast in peoples attitudes towards people that are dying from coronavirus.

In short, people who die from drug addiction are blamed and are viewed as bad people. Even though people are getting more intelligent and empathetic about drugs and addiction and substance use disorders, I would have to say that the overwhelming majority of people are very ignorant and self-righteous about alcoholism and drug addiction and view people that have such a problem as somehow morally compromised if not bankrupt.

Whereas people that die from coronavirus are not viewed as bad people.

And this was still rolling around together in my mind when it dawned on me that the ethics really falls into that something which is completely random, e.g. the coronavirus which comes up utterly because of an act of nature, is really having nothing to do with any sort of blame that we can place on humans except that we were doing human things– We view the deaths and human toll that occurs because of this random act of nature containing more “ethical energy”. And I mean this in the sense that if I am not sad or disturbed or worried about the great potential for human deaths that are occurring because of coronavirus then people judge me as unethical and somehow inhuman.

Even as the death toll presently may be less than the death toll that is taking place during the same time of people that overdose from drugs.

And the tragedy of people dying from something that is pretty much human created, which is to say, that drug addiction is really created because human beings synthesized distillates which affect human beings more radically than their natural state within plants, but as well with synthesized and created drugs from scratch that are more dangerous and ugly and deadly for human beings then anything we could find the natural sphere.

Yet if I’m not concerned about all these people dying from drug overdose, let alone the social devastation it is indeed creating everywhere, and from being a drug addict, I am not ethically condemned in general even though more people overall are dying from this human made problem.

It seems to me that peoples’ ethical value placed upon human beings is greater than when it’s something natural or something that arises completely innocent of human activity. Whereas if human beings are involved in the tragedy, then as a society we don’t care as much.

That strikes me as contradictory and quite ironic:

This odd ethical behavior reminds me of a book I started to read which told of how particularly terrible acts of nature used to be considered evil, where as only recently, say since the beginning of the 20thcentury , we refer the name of evil to only what human beings do.


you compare.

Opioid deaths in United States.

Coronavirus Deaths worldwide





5 responses to “The Nature of Evil: Humans, Coronavirus and Addiction”

  1. The Nature of Evil: Humans, Coronavirus and Addiction — The Philosophical Hack – Neuronal Wiring Avatar

    […] via The Nature of Evil: Humans, Coronavirus and Addiction — The Philosophical Hack […]


  2. signature103 Avatar

    Is there not a difference between a choice which largely affects you alone and a choice which affects many other people?

    Of course, we should those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol but also we should take responsibility for our actions.

    Much like a husband or father who has responsibility to his wife and children, or an employee who has responsibility to his company, and vice versa where the employer and company has a responsibility to the employees (Japanese are very good at this).


    1. landzek Avatar

      In a very Object Oriented Ontological way – at what point do we stop our investigation into responsibility ?

      We know now that addiction is a brain disease which commandeers the choice mechanism. In the addict the body “thinks” that it’s survival is at stake like a knife is being plunged at you eye. Sure, one could theoretically say that we have a choice to let the knife go in my eye, but what kind of choice is that ? Even if it was to, say, save my daughter, I would say it is a very exceptional person that would not a least try to move out of the way.

      So, then the other argument would be, well just don’t ever do drugs. But the answer to that would be, why, if we know the addictive potential of various intoxicants, would anyone ever choose to even try alcohol or marijuana or opiates?

      So then we can move in another way; was it how the person was brought up? Was there a highly dysfunctional family situation, of abuse, emotional abuse physical abuse, neglect? What about the people that didn’t have any of that in their family history, where everything was “normal”? Could we then say that there’s something inherently to their genetic make up, the body themselves ? Perhaps this particular body and brain had difficulty negotiating the social activities of junior high school and high school and found that smoking marijuana helped with that.

      Or do we say that the doctors should not have prescribed those opiates in that particular car accident where they had a severe injury which is very painful? Well, then we could go to how was the doctor raised, how are the educated, how what is the environment of the prescriber, his office her hospital? What forces are in play there? Money power desire to help, capacity to care…

      It seems to me that if we have compassion for what the human being is then we would condemn someone more for not being concerned about the addiction problem in the world then we would condemn someone for not being as concerned that some 65-year-old died of the flu.

      I think what I’m pointing out is that human beings tend to want to point outward to causes and effects and blame things that are not inherently of their own making. And it would seem to me that society is just an example of this, it’s dysfunction and indeed the addiction crisis.

      What parents would have a child who becomes addicted do not question themselves and have all sorts of crisis go on in their own minds about what they did wrong as a parent that this child picked up a drug?

      One could make the argument that it is very similar when we extend it out to society and our ethical ideals.


      Liked by 1 person

    2. landzek Avatar

      …or go in the other direction ethically and see that nature herself can cause evil things to happen, like the virus.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. landzek Avatar

      And addiction does not only affect the individual addict. Addiction is a family disease. It’s just that it’s easy to point to “the addict“ as though it is the drug user that is causing all the problems in the family. But again, we know that when the attic get sober and begins to address her own problems, often enough all the other families start to get upset and their various ways and show indeed how they each have their own particular mental health issues that are affecting their lives, now, in all sorts of strange ways.
      At least that’s the symptoms theory approach.

      The nature of society I think is to not look at its inner dependency. Western democratic capitalism is really a cult of individualism, A religion of perpetuating dysfunction by isolating causes to particulate items as if each particulate has access to an aspect which exists outside of the universe, which is to say a “free“ choice.

      Liked by 1 person

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