Reproaching heaven: The problem of evil in Mengzi [Book Review]
Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 5 (2):293-312 (2006)
|Abstract||At first glance, the problem of evil has little place in Chinese thought.Â At least two assumptions associated with the classical European problem of evil are foreign to a Chinese context.Â If we take the term â€œevilâ€ in contrast to the merely â€œbad,â€ that is, if we give evil ontological status as a real force, then classical Chinese thinkers have no conception of evil, and thus no need to account for its origin.Â The second assumption connected to the problem of evil is Godâ€™s creation of the world ex nihilo.Â If God is the total and complete cause of all that exists, God must be responsible for everything, including the bad things.Â Without a conception of creation ex nihilo, early Chinese thinkers need not attribute evil to any divine being.Â Even in a European context, though, requiring a conception of evil as a positive force and the creation of the world ex nihilo defines the problem of evil too narrowly.Â Most thinkers in the European tradition responded to the problem of evil by denying the ontological status of evil.Â Those who maintained the benevolence of God denied his creation of evil by equating evil with nothingness or lack.Â Augustine develops this denial of evil in response to Manicheanism, and versions of his account are taken up by Descartes and Leibniz, among others.Â Even those who responded to the problem of evil by denying the existence of a benevolent deity tended to reduce evil from a real ontological category to a mere human label, as for example, Spinoza does.Â Creation ex nihilo remains more consistently central to the problem, but again seems unnecessary.Â Kant, for example, sees the problem of evil as arising out of the structure of rationality itself.Â Hellenistic philosophers raised the problem of evil more regarding God as controlling force than God as creator.Â Even within Europe, then, the problem of evil can be formulated without..|
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