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HSID Ancient Philosophy Lecture 14 The Problem of Evil, Consolation of Philosophy, Book IV.

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1 HSID Ancient Philosophy Lecture 14 The Problem of Evil, Consolation of Philosophy, Book IV

2 Housekeeping n Anything? n Take roll, Brian n WRITE THIS DOWN: “http://mugwump.pitzer.edu/~bkeeley/class/hsid/” <-- powerpoints are here. n Next week? n Final exam details

3 The Problem of Evil n Question: why does evil exist? n Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do the innocent suffer? n A problem for all. If you are an atheist, an agnostic, a scientific materialist, you have the problem of how values (good/bad, pretty/ugly, etc.) can exist in a world of facts. n If values exist, then what is the foundation or basis of them? Science tells us what is the case, not what ought to be the case.

4 The Problem of Evil n Bk IV, Ch. 1, lns 3-7. n Lady Philosophy will show that: n The powerful men are in fact always the good n The wicked are always the abject and the weak n Vices never go unpunished n Nor virtues unrewarded n The good always achieve success and the wicked suffer misfortune. n A tall order!

5 The Problem of Evil n Boethius, as a theist, has a different version of the problem: How is his image of God consistent with the apparent existence of evil in the world. n In other words, how can he reconcile the image of God he presents at the end of Book III, with the fact that he is in jail (awaiting a rather nasty execution), while his accusers are living it up in Rome?

6 Note n She will do this without reference to an afterlife (b/c belief in an afterlife requires faith and he wishes to present an argument that even the non- faithful can agree with) n (Bk IV, ch 4, lns 22-23) n Also, the argument has two parts: Bks I-IV, and a different, better argument in Bks V-VII

7 The first, weaker argument n Q: What do all people seek? n A: A good life, something that they think will make them happy. n Q: Is this true of what we call “evil people”? Thieves, liars, terrorists? n But notice, if the analysis presented in Books II & III is correct, we see that evil people are going about seeking happiness in the wrong way. Relying on power, wealth, etc., won’t get you happiness!

8 The first, weaker argument n So, if happiness is what they seek, then only the good will succeed (because they are the only ones going about it in the right way!) n All the evil seem to be able to do ultimately is make themselves more and more miserable.

9 The first, weaker argument n “So since both seek the good, but good men attain it while evil men certainly do not, can there be any doubt that good men have capability, whereas evil men are weak?” (IV, 2,15)

10 The first, weaker argument n Further, Lady Philosophy argues that the alleged “power” of evil actions is no power at all. All it can do is destroy. n It takes a skilled carpenter to build a barn. Any moron with a sledgehammer or a match can destroy one.

11 The evil are not even fully human n At several points, Lady Philosophy argues that to the extent that an individual pursues evil, the less fully human he or she becomes. n In one sense, those who are evil don’t exist (their bodies exist, but they don’t exist as genuine human beings, IV, 2, 34-36). n In another sense, by pursuing things not proper to humans, they are more like animals than humans (IV, 3, 17-21)

12 Chapter 4 n Some very counterintuitive things about how punishment makes the wicked happy (because it shows them the error of their ways and gives them a chance to turn their lives around and start pursuing what might actually make them happy).

13 The Stronger Argument n At chapter 5, Boethius-the- character basically says: “Yeah, all that’s fine & dandy, but what the heck am I [a good person] doing sitting in this darn jail!?” n For all this discussion of the nature of good and evil and their respective power, there still seems to be a lot of chaos in the world; good and evil just all mixed up together. n The world seems to be ruled by Lady Luck (Fortune), not God.

14 n (IV, 6, 2-3): “Philosophy smiled briefly, and said: ‘The topic to which you challenge me is the greatest of all to investigate; it is virtually inexhaustible. It is the sort of subject in which when one doubt is excised countless others spring up like the Hydra’s heads, and there would be no limit to them if one did not restrain them by applying the most penetrating fire of the mind.” [Note: she calls on reason here, not faith.]

15 n Ch 6, line 7-10: “The birth of all things, the entire development of natures subject to change, and all that is in any way stirred to motion, derive their causes and order and shapes from the unchanging steadfastness of the divine mind [i.e., "God" = being that created the universe]. This mind… decides upon the complex plan of the course of events. This plan, when envisaged in the total clarity of the divine intelligence, is called Providence; but as related to things which that intelligence moves and orders, it has been labeled Fate... That the two concepts are different will readily become clear if we mentally consider the force of each. Providence is the divine reason itself, established within the highest originator of all things, who disposes them all, whereas Fate is the order imposed on things that change, through which Providence interlinks each and every object in their due arrangement….”

16 n “…Providence indeed embraces all things alike, however different and however boundless, whereas Fate organizes the separate movement of individual things, and allocates them according to place, shape, and time. [That is, in our universe, like things seem to be associated with like things. Dogs give birth to dogs, not zebras. However, in a sense, God created all things, so must be able to join together the most varied objects in his Divine Plan of the universe.] Thus when this arrangement of temporal order is a unity within the foresight of the divine mind, it is Providence, whereas when that unity is separated and unfolded at various times, it is called Fate.”

17 n Ch. 6, line 53-56: “But—’how hard it is to say all this as though I were a god!’ [a quotation from Homer]—for it is not right for a man either mentally to grasp or to explain in words all the workings of God's creation. [Although, he's been trying hard for the past 92 pages!] It must be enough merely to realize that God, the author of all things in nature, orders all of them and guides them to the good. He hastens to maintain in his own image the things which he has brought to birth, and through the chain of necessity imposed by Fate, he excludes all the evil from the boundaries of his commonwealth. [God doesn't, in fact, create anything evil.] So if you were to observe Providence dispensing all the plenty which men believes to exist on earth, you would not imagine that there was any evil present at all there! [If we saw things from God's perspective, we would see that all alleged 'evil' was actually good.]”

18 n So, his solution to the problem of evil is that all alleged evil is merely an illusion created by our limited perspective on the world. can n We can know that God exists and that God must have a very different vantage point on the world than we do. can’t n We can’t know what the world looks like from that vantage point, even though can know that it is more comprehensive. n Therefore, it’s possible that what seems evil to us is good on the larger scheme of things.

19 n Consider this analogy: n The relationship between a five- year-old and an adult. n She knows that adults know a heck of a lot more than she does. (They can drive the car and make dinner and fix toys.) n They also make her do things that seem downright “evil” to her (those darn brussel sprouts!) n But she can reason that they have her best interest in mind even if she can’t know what they now. (And this need not be based solely on faith.)

20 n This fate/providence argument and the earlier argument about the weakness of evil are Boethius’ explanation for reconciling his belief in the consolation of philosophy with his current situation. n He is confronting the consequences of his beliefs and trying to address a reader’s likely problems with it n Of course, he can’t stop now, because his solution to the problem of evil generates another problem…

21 The Problem of Free Will, Consolation of Philosophy, Book V

22 n Ch. 6, line 53-56: “But—’how hard it is to say all this as though I were a god!’ [a quotation from Homer]—for it is not right for a man either mentally to grasp or to explain in words all the workings of God's creation. [Although, he's been trying hard for the past 92 pages!] It must be enough merely to realize that God, the author of all things in nature, orders all of them and guides them to the good. He hastens to maintain in his own image the things which he has brought to birth, and through the chain of necessity imposed by Fate, he excludes all the evil from the boundaries of his commonwealth. [God doesn't, in fact, create anything evil.] So if you were to observe Providence dispensing all the plenty which men believes to exist on earth, you would not imagine that there was any evil present at all there! [If we saw things from God's perspective, we would see that all alleged 'evil' was actually good.]”

23 against Argument against compatibility of Divine Foreknowledge & Free Will Ch. 3, lines 3-6, p. 100: “There seems to be a considerable contradiction and inconsistency… between God's foreknowing all things and the existence of any free will. If God foresees all things and cannot be in any way mistaken, then what Providence has foreseen will happen and must inevitably come to pass. So if God has prior knowledge from eternity not only of men’s actions but also of their plans and wishes, there will be no freedom of the will; for the only action and any sort of intention which can possibly exist in the future will be foreknown by divine Providence, which cannot be misled. If such actions and aspirations can be forcibly diverted in some direction other than was foreseen, certain knowledge of the future will no longer exist, but instead there will be vacillating opinion; and I regard it as sacrilege to believe this of God.”

24 The dilemma, in essence n Boethius is presenting the problem of free will as a dilemma pitting God's omniscience against our free will: Either God has perfect knowledge of everything that's ever going to happen (which implies that every “moral” decision you will ever make was already decided at the beginning of the universe), or you have the ability to make genuinely free decisions about your life (which implies that there is something that God doesn’t know, namely what the outcomes of your free decisions will be). “all-in” n Poker analogy: Boethius is going “all-in” at this point

25 A tempting (but false) start n Chapter 1 raises the issue of chance or randomness. n Philosophy argues that strictly speaking, there is nothing random in this world, although our ignorance makes us think there is. n Example: the buried treasure. n This sets up the latter solution Boethius presents, but ultimately randomness is not the same as freedom.

26 The Three Components of Boethius's Proposed Solution 1)A theory of knowledge 2)The distinction between eternity and time 3)The distinction between simple and conditional necessity

27 1) A theory of knowledge n Once again, keep in mind that God's position and point- of-view on the world is vastly different from ours. He takes from Aristotle this break down of the nature of knowledge (which differs somewhat from Plato) 1.Sensation: all living things have this to a degree. 2.Imagination: higher animals possess this; dogs can remember where the food is when in the cabinet. 3.Reason: humans possess this; they not only build up an image of a thing, but can abstract them and hold them in their minds, while comparing the relationships between them. However, this form of knowledge must proceed step-by-step, as in logic and math. 4.Intelligence: souls, or spirits separate from a body, can know truth without having to reason about it. They can see truth immediately without having to go through steps. Analogy: intuition.

28 2) Eternity vs. Time n All created beings are temporal. We live within time. One thing happens then another. You come into existence. You live a while. You go out of existence. (At least, your body does!) n God, on the other hand, is the creator (by definition). He created everything that exists in time. He created time itself. God transcends time. God is not a temporal being, but rather is eternal. He must live in “the eternal present”.

29 2) Eternity vs. Time n Ch. 6, ln 16, p. 112: Philosophy says, “…your judgment will be more correct should you seek to envisage the foresight by which God discerns all things not as a sort of foreknowledge of the future, but as knowledge of the unceasingly present moment.”

30 3) The distinction between simple and conditional (or logical) necessity n What we commonly call “necessity” really comes in two forms. Consider the two claims: a)There will never exist a sphere of pure gold 1,000,000 miles in diameter b)There will never exist a sphere of enriched uranium (U 235 )1,000,000 miles in diameter. n Both of these statements are (probably) true, and in a sense, both are necessarily true. But the truth of A) is only conditionally true. B), however, is a simple necessity.

31 3) The distinction between simple and conditional (or logical) necessity n The “walking” example (p. 113). If I see somebody walking, it is necessary (in a sense) that she is walking (otherwise, I wouldn't be seeing this!). But this action (walking) is voluntary on her part. Given that she chose to walk (this is the “condition”), she can be said to be conditionally necessarily walking.

32 Putting it all together n Ch 6, ln 18-24, p P: “Why, then, do you demand that things surveyed by the divine light be necessary, when even men do not pronounce as necessary the things they see? Surely, when you observe things before you, your seeing them does not impose any necessity on them?” n B: “Of course not.”

33 Putting it all together n P: “But if it is appropriate to compare the divine present with the human, then just as you men see certain things in this temporal present of yours, so God sees all things in his eternal present. Hence this divine foreknowledge does not change the nature and character of things; God sees them as present before his eyes as they will emerge at some time in the future. Nor does he make confused judgments about things; with a single mental glance he distinguishes those future events which will occur by necessity from those which will not. …”

34 Putting it all together n “…Consider this parallel. When you observe at one time a man walking on the earth and the sun rising in the sky, even though you see them simultaneously, you distinguish them, and you judge the first movement to be voluntary, and the second to be necessary. So it is with the divine reason, as it looks out on the whole world; it certainly does not dislocate the nature of those things which for God are in the present, but which in their temporal aspect are in the future. So when God knows that something is about to take place, something which he is well aware need not come to pass, this is not an opinion but knowledge which rests on truth.”

35 Putting it all together n In other words, if Boethius is correct, God's foreknowledge/ omniscience need not conflict with our free will. He is in a position to know things without forcing them to happen. He can know the outcomes of our free choices.

36 Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite n AKA: “Pseudo-Denys” n 5th-6th century author thought in Medieval period to be either The “Dionysius” converted by St. Paul or “St. Denis” a French theologian n Forgery? Well, that’s a modern concept.

37 Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite n Key concepts: Positive vs. Negative Theology (“via negativa”-- Apophatic theology ) n “Unknowing” n Two senses of knowing


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