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  1. Adam Bolander

    Adam Bolander Senior Member

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    Which quote is better?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Adam Bolander, Apr 19, 2020.

    I want my book to have a famous quote about good and evil hanging above a spot where people were tortured and killed by somebody who thought doing that would save somebody else, kind of an "ends justify the means" kind of mindset. The one who puts it there is the secondary antagonist, who is going to the opposite extreme, wiping out the first bad guy's entire race to stop what this one guy is doing.

    "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
    ~Edmund Burk

    or

    "Nature, in her indifference, makes no distinction between good and evil."
    ~Anatole France

    I think either could work. The first one is kind of a challenge to the hero, daring her to join him and stop the greater threat, even if it means murdering thousands of innocent people. The second sounds more like he's given up believing in good and evil, and feels like he's stuck in a pointless but inevitable cycle of violence.

    So which do you guys like better?
     
  2. Oxymaroon

    Oxymaroon Contributor Contributor

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    The second. Absolutely! The other one's been done to death three times over.

    Nature's attitude need not influence your protagonist; it certainly doesn't make a human being's choice pointless. It simply means that good and evil are human concepts, and that it's up each human to make his or her own determination and choice and decision whether and what action to take. That is a philosophically far more profound statement.
     
  3. Adam Bolander

    Adam Bolander Senior Member

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    In this case, the villain is seeing it as more of a "predator vs prey" concept. The ones oppressing him aren't doing it because they're evil, they're just acting in accordance to [what he assumes is] their nature. And that means he can't be evil either, by extension. Whether or not good intentions make good people is an idea that gets explored on both sides later in the story. Thanks!
     
  4. Dogberry's Watch

    Dogberry's Watch Contributor Contributor

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    Both are good, but the second one is less direct and therefore more apt to interpretation. Are we talking about actual nature, plants and animals and earth and stuff? Or are we talking about the nature of man?

    As Oxymaroon says, it's philosophically more profound than the other one. We know mankind is awful in the general sense. It's the why it's awful that matters, which is covered in the second quote. To me, anyway.
     
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  5. Oxymaroon

    Oxymaroon Contributor Contributor

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    In any case, the point becomes that you have to decide: Take a side or not take a side? Take a stand or not take a stand? Act or not act? Each of those is a moral decision and must be made according a principle by which the person in question chooses to live.
     
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  6. Adam Bolander

    Adam Bolander Senior Member

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    The nature of man and, uh...man-like creatures. Like I said to Oxymaroon, he's plotting genocide because he thinks it's just the other race's (species'?) nature to kill innocent people. Like how a predator kills and eats prey--they're not evil, just incompatible with one another, and the only way for there to be peace is for the prey to wipe out the predators.
     
  7. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    FYI, It's Edmund Burke, not Edmund Burk.
     
  8. grecong

    grecong New Member

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    I like the second one, I don't think I've heard it before, while the first one is a bit overused and overly dramatic.
     
  9. Que

    Que Active Member

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    Adam,

    Like the others, I prefer the second. I do not, however, think it fits your intentions very well. I suggest that you search the web for quotes on evil behavior. Or consider this one...

    Revenge, like a bucket with a hole in it, carries nothing but emptiness.
     

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