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Where do you draw the line between insane and pure evil?


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Just a random morality question I wanted to ask specifically when dealing with villains where do you draw the line between a character who's just crazy as hell and straight up pure evil? 

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I guess crazy as hell means they have no concept of what they're doing or the consequences of same, and just run with their impulses. Pure evil is someone who knows exactly what evil he/she's doing and does it anyway, especially if they enjoy it. 

Doing evil and loving evil are two different things, even if the lines can get blurred from time to time. 

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   Oh, that's a good question!

  See, what I often say is that there's three stages.

    Crazy means basically a bit abnormal. Like your crazy friend who continuously shoots his mouth off to get you in trouble. Or Crazy Old Ben down the road that collects hubcaps and the roadkill fresh off the road. People may scoff or scorn, but its an acceptable level of crazy. Like Pinkie Pie, you know? She talks all the time to things others can't see or conceive of, yet she's treated as friendly & cute.

  Insanity is a complete loss of control, or partial I suppose. Something a doctor could look at & diagnose. Like facial twitches, wild exaggerated movements, or Dr. Strangelove's one hand that contradicts his other hand constantly or keeps saluting like he did back when he was with the Natzis despite no longer wishing to be connected with them. (Eh, didn't really watch the movie.)

   Madness... is where you tend to veer into evil. It's something bad shows & movies seem to have trouble pinning down well. Madness is knowing that what your doing is wrong... but also fully aware that your not going to do anything differently about it. It's not truly Evil if you just wanna blow up the world to hurt everyone else but get no clear reward for you in the process. Here, as a bad example, what I'm thinking of is the weirdo villain from Food Fight. Think he was played by Christopher Lloyd. (you know, Doc Brown?) The character was a mess. Couldn't control his motions well enough to not walk without stalking like a mantis, swatting things down just so he could look evil...

   What evil is, down to its most base form, is intentionally hurting others for your own self-gain.

     Take Sombra & Tirek from this franchise. Regular Smash & Grab tactics there. Both would have easily committed murder, kids' show or not. Tirek basically ate the souls out of ponies because he wanted all the magic & power for himself and only him. Sombra crushed & broke whatever & whoever got in his way without a second thought... still that vague "break the world" mentality I bashed earlier, so... not as great a character, but unmitigatedly evil nonetheless!

  No, what you want to use as a perfect guideline for Evil, is Discord.

    Discord was more than willing to let the world burn, ruin every life he touched, if it meant he could have his fun & play his games. That Self-Gain I mentioned earlier can even be as simple as a murderer being mad enough to think that what they're doing is just an innocent little game no matter how obvious it is that they're... hurting others. *cough* cupcakes*uncough* But the difference with Discord, is that he was fine curbing himself for the sake of a friend. That he's aware enough to know that he can still have his fun without wrecking the world and ending lives. It's that self-awareness that keeps you from pure evil & madness.

   I see very little room between Discord and The Joker. Both could toy with your mind and try to drive you insane. But Discord knows that if you die because of it then he can't keep playing with you. The Joker just wants you to keep suffering. Because suffering is comedy after all... but one does need to keep their audience.

 

  (Sweet mercy... I think that bout of philosophizing got this close to making me sound like an all-out psychopath!)

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3 minutes ago, Widdershins said:

Here, as a bad example, what I'm thinking of is the weirdo villain from Food Fight. Think he was played by Christopher Lloyd. (you know, Doc Brown?) The character was a mess. Couldn't control his motions well enough to not walk without stalking like a mantis, swatting things down just so he could look evil...

 

He was actually a "giant" robot piloted by the real villain, BTW.

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2 hours ago, A.V. said:

 

He was actually a "giant" robot piloted by the real villain, BTW.

   I was thinking that... was also thinking that "Surely the movie isn't THAT stupid..." Sigh, all the better to show what a horrible evil character it was.

     Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go continue sighing heavily into a double facepalm.

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Crazy actions are just that - crazy, unpredictable or otherwise defiant of common sense. Evil is the deliberate action to commit to a morally wrong act. I doubt 'pure' evil is easier to describe - morality is (imho) subjective, and therefore what one perceives as evil another perceives as good. I'm sure a select few people portrayed villainously in history would protest, nominating their actions as morally just and good. It's never that simple in reality, unlike in fiction.

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Insane or crazy beings do things randomly or without reason, or do things against their own reasoning and will without worry or regret. Whether they 'want' to do something or not is of little importance to them.

Evil beings on the other hand simply enjoy the pain of others, and may even enjoy their own pain. An evil being will go out of their way to make you feel horrible and take full pleasure in it. Evil beings are also willing to do anything to save their own skin, and care little of others unless it benefits their own hide. Evil beings also love power as it means that they have a better chance to protect their own skin. Evil beings fear death very much.

Of course any person can have any level of these traits. Laughing at a friends minor misfortune does not make you evil, and doing something spontaneous doesn't make you insane (in fact spontaneous behaviour can even be good for you).

Edited by General Solar Magus
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Insane is a legal term. Evil is not. 

I'm not sure if I should approach this through a moralistic view, or legal, or utilitarian one. 

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31 minutes ago, Chaotic Overlord said:

Explain 

"Evil" doesn't have a clear definition. There's no such thing as doing something "Evil". People don't do actions based on whether they are good or bad, they do them because of instinct and desire. Paying the bills is not a desire, but avoiding a bad economical situation is. That leaves us with good and evil desire. Or "right" and "wrong", if you will. Evil is described as something that is "morally wrong", but that sentence doesn't hold any meaning. Evil = "morally evil". Something that is morally wrong to you is certainly not morally wrong to the person whom you call evil.

This is the objective approach, of course. Subjectively, evil is what you personally think it is. Just like words such as "cool" or "ugly".

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33 minutes ago, Jokuc said:

"Evil" doesn't have a clear definition. There's no such thing as doing something "Evil". People don't do actions based on whether they are good or bad, they do them because of instinct and desire. Paying the bills is not a desire, but avoiding a bad economical situation is. That leaves us with good and evil desire. Or "right" and "wrong", if you will. Evil is described as something that is "morally wrong", but that sentence doesn't hold any meaning. Evil = "morally evil". Something that is morally wrong to you is certainly not morally wrong to the person whom you call evil.

This is the objective approach, of course. Subjectively, evil is what you personally think it is. Just like words such as "cool" or "ugly".

I see.   That's very insightful 

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Insane are people who cheer and celebrate when innocent children are killed, and if you ask me they deserve punishment. Peaceful protest and picketing at funerals are mutually exclusive. 

Evil is the genocide of millions due to animalistic hatred of a group of people. Worse still are the scumbags that want teaching of the genocide pulled from curriculums because they don't believe it happened. The ultimate middle finger is to the people that so fear offending deniers that they agree to pull the course. If i were a teacher in a school where teaching the Holocaust was banned, i would go ahead and teach it anyway. 

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I guess it depends on the intention, if you kill someone without really understanding the consequence or why you're doing it you could be insane, if you kill someone as a means of fun or self-gain then you're evil

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Those who are pure evil know what they are doing, enjoy causing pain and suffering, and show no signs of remorse over their actions. Those who are insane have no clue what they are doing and, are incoherent, and can be difficult to reason with. They can be remorseful but first they would need to be made aware of what it was they did.

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3 hours ago, Ganondorf8 said:

Those who are pure evil know what they are doing, enjoy causing pain and suffering, and show no signs of remorse over their actions. Those who are insane have no clue what they are doing and, are incoherent, and can be difficult to reason with. They can be remorseful but first they would need to be made aware of what it was they did.

Interesting take on matter.  What about those who are aware that they are causing suffering and pain but feel some degree of remorse they continue doing it however for a perceived greater good a "the ends justify the means " sort of thing? 

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You are insane if you hurt people without understanding the scope of what you did.

You are evil if you can comprehend right from wrong, and choose to hurt people anyways.

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There's no line. As morality is subjective, nothing can truly be "evil" beyond being noncompliant with our collective moral standards. We generally regard evil people as being insane anyway (think serial killers, psychopaths, etc.) so I wouldn't agree with the OP's assumption that there is a difference between "evil" and insanity at all.

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There is no such thing as " pure evil " in real life. Some people just believe that what they are doing is for the greater good and are blinded to the ethical fall-outs of their misdeeds. I know this is going to irritate some people but Adolf Hitler wasn't " pure evil ". Yes, what he did, in many of our eyes was utterly inhumane. I don't support his actions, far from it, I very much disagree with them but what I'm trying to convey is that it's all about perspective. There is never an antagonist or a protagonist in any of these scenarios. What is utterly atrocious to many, may be a phenomenal occurrence to others. Don't talk about " pure evil " as it simply doesn't exist. We don't live in a fairy tale, but rather a storybook that's far more difficult to comprehend. 

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For me, insane would be when one has no idea of the gravity of their actions, whereas evil would be when they know of the gravity of their actions but don't care and feel as if they are in the right when they are in the wrong as they would have a different sense of morality.

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