I know, beyond just means outside a limit or further away. E.g. when I say something is beyond compare, it means it cannot be compared to anything.

But in the following, I'm not sure if I understand what does each of these phrases really mean

  • Beyond good
  • Beyond bad
  • Beyond evil

If something is beyond good, is it bad?
If something is beyond bad, is it evil?
If something is beyond evil, is it good or bad?

  • More context would be better here.
    – user20276
    May 5, 2012 at 0:01

5 Answers 5


In all of these cases, beyond is used as

b : in a degree or amount surpassing Ex. beautiful beyond measure

So in this example, you could instead say beyond beautiful to indicate that it is more beautiful than beautiful, which is the way the sentiment is constructed in each of your examples.

If something is beyond good, is it bad?

No, it's better than good. Might even be great.

If something is beyond bad, is it evil?  

It might be, but we can really only say for sure that it is badder than bad.

If something is beyond evil, is it good or bad?  

For most, evil is definitely bad. This something is more evil than just plain evil.


The answer is that this is idiomatic and metaphorical. "I am beyond good and evil" is an implication that the speaker is somehow more advanced than the concepts of good and evil, that their actions are for a higher purpose that renders them immune from being bothered by repercussions from doing wrong and benefits from doing good.

Most often it's used to imply that "The end justifies the means," which is to say that the speaker is likely doing evil things in the name of good, but that we can't see right now if ultimately his actions will be judged as good or evil, because we're too close to the subject.

If the context is informal, as in someone speaking to you, this is hyperbole, as there's not really any meaning to the term in this context other than that. You can't technically be beyond good.


beyond good and evil simply means that good and evil cant describe certain actions That it cant be know if X is good or evil good and evil are subjective terms . who decides what good and evil are?


In the examples given, I think the sense of 'beyond' can be obscured by the examples themselves, 'good' and 'evil' being highly charged concepts, especially in relation to each other.

When used as in the examples, 'beyond' carries a sense of something existing or operating in an entirely different realm of concern, or measure, as though requiring a different scale, a different method of both apprehending and comprehending, from that required by the 'mere'.

Another example at hand as I type this: "I fake it so real I am beyond fake." (Form a lyric by Courtney Love.)


I must say, this sort of concept isn't new. It appears frequently on a nihilistic idea of the world from the book "Beyond Good and Evil" by Friedrich Nietzsche, who has extended the notion of nihilism and inspired other existentialists authors.

So, what does beyond good and evil mean, as in, "both altogether". Nihilism is an empty, desperate and dark philosophy that renegades the truth itself in their surrounding. There is no deep, profound meaning in life, nothing is meant to be, all is just, nothing is higher nor deeper than something, everything is bland and nule down to justness. There is no knowledge nor wisdom, no purpose. So, Beyond Good and Evil; nihilism covers up that. It means, self-contradictorily, nothing. Morality is meaningless and thus should be eliminated. There is no such thing as morality nor critical actions, good and evil don't exist. In conclusion, the notion of Beyond Good and Evil was used in nihilism to describe how useless and purposeless critical-moral actions are; there is no judgment; there is nothing.

However, in reality, good and evil, and bad, are ancient words, they are words most twisted and modified words by us humans. They hold many meanings. Because of that, probabilities of finding a general definition of them are near zero, but that does not mean they cease to exist. Just because gay has many meanings around different places in the world does not affect its existence. Therefore, good, bad and evil are difficult concepts. Because of this, we are subjugated more to our opinions and ideals than facts and objective claims. We are beings with very limiting capabilities, we can't rely more on something, no matter how much we are attached to it. So, I may say, for example, there is this man and a boy, the boy is behaving in a way it throws everything he grabs to break it, whenever he approaches someone, he hits them, regardless of their identity, and the man, with serenity and patience, calls the boy's attention and scolds him. This is call, objective view, here, we are attached to factual views. Whenever, however, we are confronted by questions such as "How was the boy behaving", "How was the man behaving?", etc. Are questions in which, in respect to the situation, brings our own opinions. So answering them, majorly you would judge by stating the boy was bad, and the man was good. So bad here means a low degree of maliciousness, a mild action of wrong doing, normal flaws of morality.

Good is, fundamentally, quality in which morality is respected and followed. Now, if the boy were to take his actions to a severe, much severe case, bad would immediately go to evil. So, bad and evil are pretty much similar, but one is more severe and destructive than the other.

Now, assuming critical views, this is observation based on actions described relying on moral principles. A non-nihilistic definition of Beyond Good and Evil means exalting over observers critical view of your actions based on morality, but not necessarily discarding their existence. Buddhists, majorly (not to stereotype, other people from heterogeneous religions use this view), go beyond good and evil frequently in situations involving a cause-effect case of one's actions, or seeing through it.

So. Going back to the same example, one can infer that the reason the boy was "bad" could be he lost someone he loved, or a something dear to him, in which he was a good boy. But embraced by his own hatred and anger, he, in the name of love (something good), acts badly, and exalting above other observers who consider them bad. And the good man could have been the worst person ever, and to repent and forgive his sins, he decides to take this good act.

So, what may I finally conclude here? That the meaning of beyond good and evil just has the same problem that what does good, bad and evil mean at all. One can define Beyond Good and Evil from a transcendental point of view, or from a nihilistic view. Either way, these concepts are and have always and will always be part of our critical observation. All our actions are relative under one absolution: we, in a determined moment of time in our lives, change our way of observing, we are never stuck in one way, there is always something to criticize after or before observing neutrally.

Speaking of neutral, people can never posses an absolute neutrality. Neutrality is sticking to your own ways, even so, one can be an extremely good person and does not participate in communities or group that share common ideals. I personally consider neutral and positive very similar often.

  • Oh man. Where have you even learned to punctuate like that. This is horrible. Horrible. Stop doing it.
    – RegDwigнt
    Oct 12, 2013 at 9:50
  • 1
    I have now fixed the punctuation, and some of the more egregious grammatical mistakes, but it is still not clear to me what on Earth you are trying to say. The top and accepted answer manages in just a few words what you don't manage in eight paragraphs: to actually provide an answer to the question. I can't know what it was you were hoping to add with these ramblings, but clarification it is not. Sorry.
    – RegDwigнt
    Oct 12, 2013 at 10:02
  • On Philosophy.SE this would merely be a very bad answer. Here, it misses the point spectacularly; beyond good and evil is not beyond good/ beyond evil. Oct 12, 2013 at 11:50

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