Decor ex praesentia mali

Recherches de Theologie Et Philosophie Medievales 68 (2):245-269 (2001)
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One of the important theological issues for ancient and medieval thought was to account for the existence of evil. Augustine provided an aesthetic explanation: evil exists for contrast, to let the good stand out more prominently. Thus, just as a painting that uses both dark and bright colors, the universe that contains both good and evil is beautiful as a whole. The argument was debated in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Alexander of Hales, as well as the Franciscan tradition in general, strongly supported the Augustinian position. The article discusses a previously unknown debate between Albert the Great and Bonaventure about this issue and suggests that Bonaventure is defending his fellow-Franciscan Alexander



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