An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
Fascinating, really. However, I cannot help but think the explanation offered for a rationale of evil actions is more akin to insanity rather than evil, per se. The real answer for why one pursues evil actions is more complex, and yet simple to enunciate: an exalted image of self combined with a sort of gluttony for all manner of self-indulgence. The two are of course intimately connected to one another.
I believe that a complete surrender to the passions will result in an ever increasing desire for more and more perversions of self-indulgence, and in accord with this one will continue to allow pride to inflate self-image to astonishing proportions. In the most extreme, other people perpetually become objects of personal gratification.
It's not difficult to see this. The pornography industry caters to this "instinct" in us, but so do other more subtle arenas including more everyday life at home, business, and entertainment. Evil is giving up on seeing people as anything more than playthings and providers for your needs and desires.
It is too easy to look at child molesters and serial killers and computer simulations to see examples of evil. The REAL challenge that we must all seek to engage is to find the seeds of evil in our own heart and root them out by force.
I'm teaching a section on Vices and Virtues to my Sunday School kids (7th-10th grades; using the list from St. Gregory the Great, which became the 7 deadly sins). I have had them cut out pictures from random magazines that exemplify to them each of the Vices and Virtues. I didn't mean for it to happen, but the teachable moment is when they all complained how hard it was to find anything in the magazines that looked like any of the virtues.
I agree with your thots regarding the impact of surrendering to our passions.
As we surrender to our passions, our conscience hardens a little bit more each time; making it easier to give in the next time. With some of the passions; what previously "satisfied" the earlier desire, takes more to satisfy it in the future.
"Evil is giving up on seeing people as anything more than playthings and providers for your needs and desires."
I always worry that we fixate too much on the easy and obvious evils (and evil people), and ignore the more subtle and yet potentially more destructive evils that are out there. Although, I suppose one could argue that we don't do enough about obvious evils, either. . . okay, now I'm depressed... Got a book tip for you, James. Check out "The Black Swan."