Harry approached Quirrell when he was only eleven years old...and was faced with a viewpoint that a child at such an age would not be expected to understand. Quirrell said that Voldemort showed him that there was no good or evil, only power, and those too weak to seek it.
It is difficult to imagine that the universe only consists of binaries- black and white, God and Satan. There is color with shades of gray, layers upon layers of intricate complexities that cannot be seen all at once. Voldemort, of course, uses these complexities to justify his actions, but others in reality have done the same. Hitler, Pol Pot, and other dictators, mass murderers, and terrorists probably never considered their actions evil- which bodes the thought that it is the 'weak' the victims of the crimes in whatever shape or form, who label good and evil, and it is the powerful who, instead, define right and wrong. So was Quirrell right? Is there no good or evil- just the weak and the strong? And what does that mean for those trying to make a difference in the world?
It's interesting that you're using power here to mean "power over oneself" so as in the power to resist temptation etc but the way Quirrell used it (and the way I think most people are interpreting it) is "power over others". In some ways this is the exact opposite thing because exerting your power over others means giving into the temptation of doing so. Clearly, Quirrell here is suggesting that Voldemort is powerful or strong and surely you can't be suggesting that Voldemort is "good", as you put it? I think if you're saying that power can be defined in different ways, I very much agree, but to put all of those definitions of strong and saying they are "good" is a little reductive.
I read a quote once and it mad me think of this, which is similar to the quote but doesn't have the same meaning.
"Evil is rarely evil in the eye of the beholder." and by that I mean that people who do bad things aren't necessarily evil. People like Hitler thought they were doing to world a favor by getting ready of all the imperfections. While, when we look at Hitler we see someone who couldn't find the perfection in imperfection (which is pretty easy to find, I mean just remove the im-) and committed horrible crimes.
In the end, there is not really a good and evil unless you choose to qualify something as one or the other. I prefer to think of things in an impartial light and therefore don`t really judge people as either.
just remove the im-
heheheh. good stuff Geoff.
To some extent, I agree with Quirrell, there is no good or evil (after all, most of the vilains believe themselves to be doing something good, like Hitler and Voldemort). I believe that good and evil are subjective, you can say that murder or rape are wrong but that is because of your historical and social context, not because those are universal truths.
However, weak and strong also speaks of binaries, black and white. And this is a narrow tunel vision of the world. Nevertheless it does hold some truth, but I think not in the way that Quirrel intended (not in terms of power); to answer your last quesion, I think that people who try to make a difference in the world are the strong, they by action or inaction shape the planet we live in, and the weak are the ones who just go with the flow, content and apathic. Because of this, every single person is somewhere between weak and strong, shades of grey.
I would argue that rape is universally wrong. I think judgement on murder can be subjective and is rooted in your beliefs on death, but rape? I think that absent of social context, rape is still wrong.
More or less, I believe Quirell wasn't wrong, but he wasn't all right either. Because it what he sees in himself, and others like him. What we define as good or evil comes from each individual perspective. Most of us, thankfully, have the same opinion on what is right and what is wrong. However, there are some people who believe in something different, who understand and see the world in a altered way, and act in way they see right. In a sense, they don't see themselves as evil. They see themselves as the stronger ones. The more capable ones. The top of the food chain, et cetera. We see evil because of what we believe in. They see strength because of what they see in the rest of us.
In an objective case, we cannot completely define their acts as evil, as we don't all see the world in the same way. We also can't label all of it as a struggle for power. Nothing can be put in exactly two categories. The universe doesn't run the way an individual thinks it should. It depends in what perspective you're looking at, otherwise it's all just shades of grey, as Lily (above me) put it.
That brings to mind "there is no good or evil but thinking makes it so" from a Shakespeare play.
As far as your life goes, you get to decide whether things are good or evil, but when it comes to things that affect others, there is a line whether you use your power for good or evil. I disagree with there being people who are 'weak' or 'strong' because I think there are a myriad of ways to measure strength, and everyone's strengths are different.
The thing about Quirrell's statement is that everyone interprets strength and weakness different, just like no one interprets good and evil in exactly the same way. Both are either/or situations: you can't lack power without being weak, and you can't be strong without having power. You're either good or evil. But what defines strength and weakness, or good and evil? Quirrell views seeking power as a symbol of a strong person, but power can lead to less than positive results, which could strip that person of their status as "strong." If you never seek power, and never do anything inherently bad but never put yourself in a situation that could help the world, i.e. giving yourself some measure of power, are you weak?
We're in a society that has a basic idea of what's good and what's evil. For example, murder is bad. But at the same time, we also have defenses that can justify murder in certain situations, such as battered woman's syndrome. Killing wasn't a good thing, per say, but she's a notch above those in society who kill just because they can. Others would say she's just as bad, and there you have a shade of grey.
I don't think Quirrell was right, because he misses all the in-between on the spectrum of good and evil, or weak and strong. If you don't seek power because it wouldn't suit you, you're weak, and if you do, no matter what, you're strong. I think it's also important to remember whose perspective this is being said from. People like Quirrell and Voldemort probably don't fully understand all the shades of grey in between, because they see only power and weakness.
I don't entirely agree. Everyone seeks power, by seeking fame, money, respect and everything else people hold over others to make them feel better about themselves. However, the difference is the means. Serial killers use violence, celebrities use adoration. What do your morals agree with? Take Batman for example, his strength relied on his body and his gadgets, but his power relied on the fact that he remained anonymous, while fight for a city.
If morality is lost and as you quote 'there is only powerful and weak" than nobody will and would never have responsibility for actions, and money in some societies a form of power (economic) is gifted from parent to offspring. So are you saying that therefore that those born poor are not strong enough to have economic power?
I think that there is no person alive who is only made up of goodness or only made up of evil. I think that a person can be 'mostly good' or 'mostly evil', perhaps in certain periods of their lives. Dumbledore wasn't always as good as he was during Harry's time. I think that both that good and the bad are innate values in our DNA or whatever, and it is our ambition or strong desires that make us do these good or evil things. It is our intentions that drive us to do things, and it is the quality of our actions due to our intentions that define whether we are 'weak' or 'strong'. For example, you want to earn high points. A 'strong' person would choose to do all the possible ways that he or she can get these points. A 'weak' person would not try as hard to get points, and would maybe even try to use cunning ways to get these points without much effort. So there truly is no just good or just evil, just weak and the strong in terms of a person's endeavours due to his or her intentions/ambitions.
To answer the second part of the question, I think that every single one of us are already making a difference every day, only that these are almost always unnoticed because they are referred as insignificant or useless by the common people. If a person wants to make a difference that is deemed significant, he or she can either be strong or weak in achieving it - bearing in mind that the quality or the result of his or her endeavour will be affected by how he or she achieved it.
** Do you nerdfighters truly believe that one evil act is more evil or 'more wrong' (hello grammar Nazis) than another?
i'll agree that quantifying/qualifying things as more or less evil certainly is complicated, if possible or right, but some certainly feel worse...which may evil in a way too...