Brian Treanor
Loyola Marymount University
Philosophy, by and large, tends to dwell on what might be called the woeful nature of reality—finitude, suffering, loss, death, and the like. While these topics are no doubt worthy of philosophical concern, undue focus on them tends to obscure other facets of our experience and of reality, giving philosophy a temperament that could justifiably be called melancholic. Without besmirching the value of such inquiry, this paper suggests that philosophers have largely ignored the experience of joy and, consequently, missed its distinctive contributions to our understanding of the meaningfulness of life and the goodness of being. Traditional accounts of the problem of evil are rooted in what John D. Caputo calls “strong theology,” which tends to construe evil as a problem to which God should supply the answer or solution. However, if we call into question traditional accounts of omnipotence, evil ceases to be a problem, and we become free to engage it as part of what Gabriel Marcel calls “the mystery of being.” Thus liberated, we are free to assess more clearly phenomena missed by melancholic accounts of being, among them the experience of joy, attested to in diverse forms of philosophy, literature, memoir, and elsewhere.
Keywords evil   finitude   weak theology   theodicy   Michel Serres   Erazim Kohák   Terrence Malick   Virginia Woolf
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DOI 10.1080/17570638.2016.1141483
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