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an essay on the known the unknown and the unknowable

an essay on the known the unknown and the unknowableAn essay on the known the unknown and the unknowable -Rosmini, closely following Malebranche, pointed out that the question of the possibility of a better world than this has really no meaning; any world created by God must be the best possible in relation to its special purpose, apart from which neither goodness or badness can be predicated of it.Leibniz has been more or less closely followed by many who have since treated the subject from the Christian point of view.It may be urged, moreover, that there can be no degree of finite goodness which is not susceptible of increase by omnipotence, without ceasing to fall short of infinite perfection.Moral evil proceeds from the folly of mankind, not from the Divine will, and is overruled by it to a good end. "Nothing is done without thee in earth or sea or sky, save what evil men commit by their own folly; so thou hast fitted together all evil and good in one, that there might be one reasonable and everlasting scheme of all things." In the mystical system of Eckhart (d. As darkness is nothing but the absence of light, and is not produced by creation, so evil is merely the defect of goodness. The same general lines have been followed by most of the modern attempts to account in terms of Theism for the existence of evil.On the one hand, it is scarcely consistent with the belief in the Divine omnipotence ; and on the other, it fails to account for the permission (or indirect authorship) of evil by a good God, to which Bayle had specially taken exception.Through this mutual limitation natural objects are for the most part prevented from attaining to their full or ideal perfection, whether by the constant pressure of physical condition, or by sudden catastrophes.For this purpose it is necessary (1) to define the precise nature of the principle that imparts the character of evil to so great a variety of circumstances, and (2) to ascertain, as far as may be possible, to source from which it arises.But on the question of the origin of evil there has been, and is a considerable diversity of opinion. it cannot be solved by a mere experimental analysis of the actual conditions from which evil results.We can not know that this world is the best possible; and if it were, why, since it must include so much that is evil, should a perfectly good God have created it?The nature and degree of pain in lower animals is very obscure, and in the necessary absence of data it is difficult to say weather it should rightly be classed with the merely formal evil which belongs to inanimate objects, or with the suffering of human beings. Pain, which is the test or criterion of physical evil, has indeed a positive, though purely subjective existence as a sensation or emotion; but its evil quality lies in its disturbing effector the sufferer. iii, 10) as "privato boni alicujus"; Albertus Magnus (adopting St.Thus it has often been supposed that animal suffering, together with many of the imperfections of inanimate nature, was due to the fall of man, with whose welfare, as the chief part of creation, were bound up the fortunes of the rest (see Theoph. Thus Origen (In Joh., ii, 7) defines evil as stéresis; the Pseudo-Dionysius (De. Thus it will be seen that evil is not a real entity; it is relative.NYX the Goddess of Night also popped out and ancient Greek cosmology finally got going. If you know anything about nothing please get in touch.Eckhart's monistic or pantheistic tendencies seem to have obscured for him many of the difficulties of the subject, as has been the case with those by whom the same tendencies have since been carried to an extreme conclusion. Thus, " God judged it better to bring good out of evil than to suffer no evil to exist" (St. Evil contributes to the perfection of the universe, as shadows to the perfection of a picture, or harmony to that of music (De Civ. Again, the excellence of God's works in nature is insisted on as evidence of the Divine wisdom, power, and goodness, by which no evil can be directly caused. The relation of evil to the will of a perfectly benevolent Creator was elaborately treated by Leibniz, in answer to Bayle, who had insisted on the arguments derived from the existence of evil against that of a good and omnipotent God. According to it, the inverse is the best possible; but metaphysical evil, or perfection, is necessarily involved in the constitution, since it must be finite, and could not have been endowed with the infinite perfection which belongs to God alone.Spinoza united spirit and matter in the notion of a single substance, to which he attributed both thought and extension ; error and perfection were the necessary consequence of the order of the universe.But it seems that, in the beginning, there was a primordial emptiness.Poverty, oppression, and some forms of disease are instances of evil arising from imperfect social organization.Mental suffering, such as anxiety, disappointment, and remorse, and the limitation of intelligence which prevents humans beings from attaining to the full comprehension of their environment, are congenital forms of evil each vary in character and degree according to natural disposition and social circumstances.Clarke, moreover, has aptly remarked (Correspondence with Leibniz, letter ii) that the apparent disorder of nature is really no disorder, since it is part of a definite scheme, and precisely fulfills the intention of the Creator; it may therefore be counted as a relative perfection rather than an imperfection. Leibniz grants sensation to animals, but considers that mere sense-perception, unaccompanied by reflexion, cannot cause either pain or pleasure; in any case he holds the pain and pleasure of animals to be parable in degree to those resulting from reflex action in man (see also Maher, Psychology, Supp't. It is evident again that all evil is essentially negative and not positive; i.e.Further, admitting that metaphysical evil in itself may be merely nature's method, involving nothing more than a continual redistribution of the material elements of the universe, human suffering and wrongdoing still and out as essentially opposed to the general scheme of natural development, and are scarcely to be reconciled in thought with any conception of unity or harmony in nature.Understanding the evolution and development of complex adaptive systems thus involves understanding how cooperation, coalitions and networks of interaction emerge from individual behaviors and feed back to influence those behaviors.an essay on the known the unknown and the unknowableThe problem of the origin of evil is thus merged in that of the origin of being.Mamiani also supposed that evil be inseparable from the finite, but it tended to disappear as the finite approached its final union with the infinite. The third way of conceiving the place of evil in the general scheme of existence is that of those systems of Monism, by which evil is merely viewed as a mode in which certain aspects of moments of the development of nature are apprehended by human consciousness.Thus, animal and vegetable organisms are variously influenced by climate and other natural causes; predatory animals depend for their existence on the destruction of life; nature is subject to storms and convulsions, and its order depends on a system of perpetual decay and renewal due to the interaction of its constituent parts.The Atomists Leucippus and Democritus, held what may be called a doctrine of materialistic Monism.Clarke, again, called special attention to the evidence of method of design, which bear witness to the benevolence of the Creator, in the midst of apparent moral and physical disorder.This is the fundamental tenet of Buddhism, which regards happiness as unattainable, and holds that there is no way of escaping from misery but by ceasing to exist otherwise than in the impersonal state of Nirvana.The question, which Schopenhauer has called "the punctum pruriens of metaphysics ", is concerned not so much with the various detailed manifestations of evil in nature, as with the hidden and underlying cause which has made these manifestations possible or necessary ; and it is at once evident that enquiry in a region so obscure must be attended with great difficulty, and that the conclusions reached must, for the most part be of a provisional and tentative character.No system of philosophy has ever succeeded in escaping from the obscurity in which the subject is involved; but it is not too much to say that the Christian solution offers, on the whole, fewer difficulties, and approaches more nearly to completeness than any other. Admitting that evil consists in a certain relation of man to his environment, or that it arises in the relation of the component parts of the totality of existence to one another, how comes it that though all are alike the results of a universal cosmic process, this universal agency is perpetually at war with itself, contradicting and thwarting its own efforts in the mutual hostility of its progeny?Derham (Physico-Theology, London, 1712) took occasion from an examination of the excellence of creation to commend an attitude of humility and trust towards the creator of "this elegant, this well contrived, well formed world, in which we find everything necessary for the sustenation, use and pleasure both of man and every other creature here below; as well as some whips, some rods, to scourge us for our sins ".Again, if God is absolutely good, and also omnipotent, how can He permit the existence of moral evil?By moral evil are understood the deviation of human volition from the prescriptions of the moral order and the action which results from that deviation.Giordano Bruno made God the immanent cause of all things, acting by an internal necessity, and producing the relations considered evil by mankind.The extent of moral evil is not limited to the circumstances of life in the natural order, but includes also the sphere of religion, by which man's welfare is affected in the supernatural order, and the precepts of which, as depending ultimately upon the will of God , are of the strictest possible obligation (see SIN ).This was also, among Greek philosophers, the view of Hegesias the Cyrenaic (called peisithánatos, the counsellor of death), who held life to be valueless, and pleasure, the only good, to be unattainable.GAIA and EREBUS were produced from the darkness, along with EROS. Nobody knows much about the Deity of Nothing, so perhaps there is nothing to know.What is evil in some relations may be good in others; and probably there is no form of existence which is exclusively evil in all relations, Hence it has been thought that evil cannot truly be said to exist at all, and is really nothing but a "lesser good." But this opinion seems to leave out of account the reality of human experience.The obligation to moral action in the natural order is, moreover, generally believed to depend on the motives supplied by religion; and it is at least doubtful whether it is possible for moral obligation to exist at all apart from a supernatural sanction.The Hegelian Monism, which reproduces many of the ideas of Eckhart, and is adopted in its main features by many different systems of recent origin, gives to evil a place in the unfolding of the Idea, in which both the origin and inner reality of the universe are to be found. It is obviously impossible to suggest a reason why this universe in particular should have been created rather than another; since we are necessarily incapable of forming an idea of any other universe than this.Evil, in a large sense, may be described as the sum of the opposition, which experience shows to exist in the universe, to the desires and needs of individuals ; whence arises, among humans beings at least, the sufferings in which life abounds.Huxley was content to believe the ultimate causes of things are at present unknown, and may be unknowable. We reach here the utmost limit of speculation ; and our inability to conceive the ultimate reason for creation (as distinct from its direct motive) is paralleled, at a much earlier stage of the enquire, by the inability of the non-creationist schools of thought to assign any ultimate cause for the existence of the order of nature. Thomas's account of evil is a true Theodicy, taking into consideration as it does every factor of the problem, and leaving unsolved only the mystery of creation, before which all schools of thought are equally helpless. an essay on the known the unknown and the unknowable Hobbes regarded God as merely a corporeal first cause; and applying his theory of civil government to the universe, defended the existence of evil by simple assertion of the absolute power to which it is due--a theory which is little else other than a statement of materialistic Determinism in terms of social relations.Physical evil includes all that causes harm to man, whether by bodily injury, by thwarting his natural desires, or by preventing the full development of his powers, either in the order of nature directly, or through the various social conditions under which mankind naturally exists.With regard to the nature of evil, it should be observed that evil is of three kinds -- physical, moral, and metaphysical.These systems reject the specific idea of creation ; and the idea of God is either rigorously excluded, or identified with an impersonal principle, immanent in the universe, or conceived as a mere abstraction from the methods of nature ; which, whether viewed from the standpoint of materialism or that of idealism, is the one ultimate reality.Bardesanes, however, and his followers regarded evil as resulting from the misuse of created free will. Lactantius uses similar arguments to oppose the dilemma, as to the omnipotence and goodness of God, which he puts into the mouth of Epicurus (De Ira Dei, xiii). Anselm (Monologium) connects evil with the partial manifestation of good by creation ; its fullness being in God alone.They held the world to have been formed by an emanation, the Demiurge, as a kind of intermediary between God and impure matter.Such action, when it proceeds solely from ignorance, is not to be classed as moral evil, which is properly restricted to the motions of will towards ends of which the conscience disapproves.Plato held God to be "free from blame" (anaítios) for the evil of the world; its cause was partly the necessary imperfection of material and created existence, and partly the action of the human will (Timeaus, xlii; cf. The Stoics conceived evil in a somewhat similar manner, as due to necessity ; the immanent Divine power harmonizes the evil and good in a changing world. 30) may be perceived an approach to the doctrine of Leibniz, as to the nature of evil and the goodness of the world. Phil., I, iv) Who can be the author of good, if God is the author of evil? Paul, in his refrence to the unsearchableness of the Divine judgments (Contra Julianum, I, 48).According to both Schopenhauer and Hartmann, suffering has come into existence with self-consciousness, from which it is inseparable. Evil has been attributed to one of two mutually opposed principles, to which respectively the mingled good and evil of the world are due.Such was the view of King (Essay on the Origin of Evil, London, 1732), who insisted strongly on the doctrine of the best possible world; of Cudworth, who held that evil, though inseparable from the nature of imperfect beings, is largely a matter of men's own fancy and opinions, rather than the reality of things, and therefore not to be made the ground of accusations against Divine Providence .No one, however, has attempted to deny this very obvious fact; and the opinion in question may perhaps be understood as merely a paradoxical way of stating the relativity of evil.But the Greek temper was naturally disinclined to a pessimistic view of nature and life; and while popular mythology embodied the darker aspects of existence in such conceptions as those of Fate, the avenging Furies, and the envy (phthónos) of the gods, Greek thinkers, as a rule, held that evil is universally supreme, but can be avoided or overcome by the wise and virtuous.Nevertheless, there is no department of human life in which its presence is not felt; and the discrepancy between what is and what ought to be has always called for explanation in the account which mankind has sought to give of itself and its surroundings.Manes held that matter was essentially evil, and therefore could not be in direct contact with God.According to the Epicurean Lucretius (De Rerum Natura, II, line 180) the existence of evil was fatal to the supposition of the creation of the world by God : Nequaquam nobis divinitus esse creatum Naturam mundi, quæ tanta est prædita culpa.Evil is the temporary discord between what is and what ought to be. Similarly, we are unable to imagine why God chose to manifest Himself by the way of creation, instead of, or in addition to, the other ways, whatever they may be, by which He has, or may have, attained the same end.1329), evil, sin included, has its place in the evolutionary scheme by which all proceeds from and returns to God, and contributes, both in the moral order and in the physical, to the accomplishment of the Divine purpose. The evil from which man suffers is, however, the condition of good, for the sake of which it is permitted. Descartes and Malebranche held that the world is the best possible for the purpose for which it was created, i.e. If it had been less fitted as a whole for the attainment of this object. Thomas, and deduced from them his theory of Optimism.He probably derived the notion from the Gnostic sects, which, though they differed on many points from one another, were generally agreed in following the opinion of Philo, and the neo-Platonist Plotinus, as the evil of matter.To what, then, is the evil of human life, physical and moral, to be attributed as its cause?If He is all-Powerful, He can be under no necessity of creating or permitting it; and on the other hand, if He is under any such necessity, He cannot be all-powerful. an essay on the known the unknown and the unknowable If animals suffering is excluded, no pain of any kind is caused by the inevitable limitations of nature ; and they can only be called evil by analogy, and in a sense quite different from that in which the term is applied to human experience. Descartes supposed that animals were merely machines, without sensation or consciousness ; he was closely followed by Malebranche and Cartesians generally.The latter view was generally held in ancient times, and may perhaps he referred to the anthropomorphic tendency of primitive minds which appears in the doctrine of metempsychosis. In like manner, the perverse action of the will, upon which moral evil depends, is more than a mere negation of right action, implying as it does the positive element of choice; but the morally evil character of wrong action is constituted not by the element of choice, but by its rejection of what right reason requires. Augustine's phrase) attributes evil to "aliqua causa deficiens " (Summa Theol., I, xi, 4); Schopenhauer, who held pain to be the positive and normal condition of life (pleasure being its partial and temporary absence), nevertheless made it depend upon the failure of human desire to obtain fulfillment--"the wish is in itself pain".Priestly held a doctrine of absolute determinism, and consequently attributed evil solely to the divine will; which, however, he justified by the good ends which evil is providentially made to subserve (Doctrine of Philosophical Necessity, Birmingham, 1782).Moral evil, in particular, arises from error, and is to be gradually eliminated, or at least minimized, by improved knowledge of the conditions of human welfare (Meliorism).There is practically a general agreement of authorities as the nature of evil, some allowance being made for varying modes of expression depending on a corresponding variety of philosophical presuppositions.Metaphysical evil is the limitation by one another of various component parts of the natural world.If God is all-benevolent, why did He cause or permit suffering?Though the same cause may give pain to one, and pleasure to another, pain and pleasure, as sensations or ideas, cannot but be mutually exclusive.The origin of the phenomenal universe is attributed by Schopenhauer to a transcendental Will, which he identifies with pure being; and by Hartmann to the unconscious, which includes both the Will and the Idea ( Vorstellung ) of Schopenhauer." God is the author of all that is right and good and just; but men have sometimes chosen good and sometimes evil" (Fragm. Empedocles, again, attributed evil to the principle of hate (neîkos), inherent together with its opposite, love (phília), in the universe. With Aristotle, evil is a necessary aspect of the constant changes of matter, and has in itself no real existence (Metaph., ix, 9). Augustine, holding evil to be permitted for the punishment of the wicked and the trial of the good, shows that it has, under this aspect, the nature of good, and is pleasing to God, not because of what it is, but because of where it is; i.e. Augustine states the question in forcible terms, but is content by way of answer to follow St.In this view there is no distinctive principle to which evil can be assigned, and its origin is one with that of nature as a whole.Over infinite eons this morphed into a huge wobbly state of random disorder. Due to unspecified quantum improbabilities, a Cosmic Egg formed inside her belly. The Cosmic Egg hatched and gave birth to the Universe.Its chief representatives are Schopenhauer and Von Hartmann, both of whom held the actual universe to be fundamentally evil, and happiness it to be impossible.Each was independent of the other; but eventually the good were to be victorious with Ormuzd, and Ahriman and his evil followers were to be expelled from the world.Of this kind, of the whole, were the doctrines of the Ionic Hylozoists, whose fundamental notion was the essential unity of matter and life; and on the other hand, also, that of the Eleatics, who founded the origin of all things in abstract being.matter and force) appears as the eternal and infinite basis of all things. First, it is asked why God, foreseeing that his creatures would use the gift of free will for their own injury, did not either abstain from creating them, or in some way safeguard their free will from misuse, or else deny them the gift altogether? Such mutability would, it should be remarked, be a defect in the Divine nature (and therefore impossible), because if God's purpose were made dependent on the foreseen free act of any creature, God would thereby sacrifice His own freedom, and would submit Himself to His creatures, thus abdicating His essential supremacy--a thing which is, of course, utterly inconceivable. God has not made the world primarily for man's good, but for His own pleasure; good for man lies in conforming himself to the supreme purpose of creation, and evil in departing from it (C. On Catholic principles, the amelioration of moral evil and its consequent suffering can only take place by means of individual reformation, and not so much through increase of knowledge as through stimulation or re-direction of the will.This mythological dualism passed to the sectk of the Manichees, whose founder, Manes, added a third, but subordinate principle, emanating from the source of good (and perhaps corresponding, in some degree, to the Mithras of Zoroastrianism ), in the "living spirit", by whom was formed the present material world of mingled good and evil.We have to enquire, that is to say, how evil has come to exist, and what is its special relation to the Creator of the universe.is a little chaotic — before the Universe began there was no-one around to take notes.Christian philosophy has, like the Hebrew, uniformly attributed moral and physical evil to the action of created free will . Moral and physical evil are due to the fall of man, but all evil is overruled by God to a good purpose. an essay on the known the unknown and the unknowable It may be urged, moreover, that there can be no degree of finite goodness which is not susceptible of increase by omnipotence, without ceasing to fall short of infinite perfection. an essay on the known the unknown and the unknowable




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