The Devil’s Opinion: The Devil’s Meditations on Seduction and Persuasion

Hello, my beautiful primates

This Devil has happily indulged in the basic human pleasure of making new friends these last few days. The opportunity to entertain seemingly obscure powers of persuasion and seduction is always welcome by things like me. 

These two words are problematic—the meaning of seduction is potentially harmful, and persuasion is explicitly better. I submit, however, that the fundamental differences between the two are the intention of the person observing them and the outcome that observance achieves. 

As always, go with me for a bit longer.

The Devil Unbound: Seduction and Persuasion
Photo by cottonbro on

This latest sweet chance to navigate people’s minds came as I moved to and fro different corners of the world. Okay, unlike in the times of Job, when I persuaded God to let me mess with that poor fool, I only moved from different corners of the quaint, little town in which I currently make my stead. 

Those who meet me accuse me of being good with people. And that charge of gregariousness makes me implicitly good with women or anyone else who might strike my fancy. 

Understand that the accusations above are more like compliments, but hyperbole and rhetorical dramatics also make me happy because they make humans happy. Sweet words are, after all, my favourite device. 

And whilst the word seduction might have an overreaching sexual connotation, the principle behind it is more than just that. 

The Devil Unbound: Seduction

Yes, the act of seducing someone is, at least semantically, to lead them away from a position they hold by making a different position more enticing. When you seduce someone, you move them in the direction you want them to go, and there are no moral rules attached to the word’s definition. 

According to its first dictionary sense, lies and exaggerations are pretty helpful tools in the endeavour of seduction. 

Keep thinking about intention and outcome.

At the risk of being disingenuous and moving away from the dictionary sense of either word, could you lie to someone to help them become better people? Or to achieve a meaningful outcome? 

I posed similar questions in a previous opinion article, Questions About Misinformation: Can Disinformation Campaigns Be Ethical and Lead to a Better Society?

If I were to tell you that I moved someone to advance their communication skills – something I’m likely to do – and as a result, they improved their family life, you would say that I’m a positive influence on that person. 

If, however, I told you that I moved that person towards that same beneficial outcome with distortions of the truth and other methods that you interpret as pretences, you’d call it manipulation. 

Does the end justify the means? Sometimes. But the answer to this question, like many about critical issues, isn’t simple.

I’ll ask again, humouring the hyperbole and rhetorical drama I brought up before: Would you tell an influentially powerful lie to change the world for the better? 

The Devil Unbound: Lying to save the world
Photo by Quintin Gellar on

Don’t worry if you can’t answer that question, the most morally honest people I know struggle with it. 

Obviously, some too many people think they are benefiting society by spreading misinformation. Yes, even some of the seemingly least intelligent of conspiracy friends have noble intentions driving their nonsense. 

As I said in my second paragraph, if the words seduction and persuasion are problematic because of their meanings, their implications for human behaviour are more so. 

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I applaud anyone willing to lie to save the world—their intentions should be given attention and channelled towards critical thinking without diminishing their impetus for positive change. I also understand the fear many humans have of unchecked emotional decisions about society’s problems.  

I don’t judge humans for refusing to answer my questions about ethical lies. Still, I insist that thinking about these propositions can lead to proper solutions to many social issues. 

In conclusion, I offer you this excellent slippery slope: The fundamental and perhaps only differences between seduction and persuasion are intention and outcome; the methods are, like most party tricks, relative to the individual human experience.  

–The Devil Unbound


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