Relational evil, relational good: Thomas Aquinas and process thought

I first demonstrate that certain process philosophers and Aquinas hold extremely similar notions of evil. Whitehead and Hartshorne parallel Aquinas in understanding evil as relational, as a conflict of goods, and as a necessary element in a larger good. On this last point, process philosophers contend that traditional theists must either reject the claim of God’s omnipotence or admit that an omnipotent God would be responsible for evil, including moral evil. I respond that Aquinas’s distinction between physical and moral evil moves beyond the process position and avoids the conclusion that God’s omnipotence must be abandoned. I argue that (1) the process position does not take proper account of Aquinas’s claim that the cause of evil is a negation and (2) the initial criticism relies on a distinction between moral and physical evil that process philosophy cannot make
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  History of Philosophy
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ISBN(s) 0019-0365
DOI 10.5840/ipq200747323
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