Saintly Thoughts

Evil Musings

The nature of evil and the good are confusing, so confusing in fact that one might almost be tempted to suggest that <gasp> there is no such thing as evil and good in any solid ontological sense; only subjective values that we attempt to universalize.  Even if we are not willing to go that far, however, let us consider a world-view that denies to evil an ontological reality but grants such favors to the good; in other words, let us consider the Augustinian position.  But, if Augustine is correct, I feel as though I find myself in an awkward situation.  For when I look out into the world, and consider the sum of human experience, evil seems to so often have so much more beingness (or presence, reality, power, etc.) in the world than does goodness.  Thus, that which is--by a Augustine's interpretation--really existent (that is the good itself) appears illusory whereas evil itself appears to have a real and persisting presence in our world.  Thus, if evil has no being and goodness itself represents the nature of being itself, then we are so sundered from the nature of being itself (and we are most certainly in some way sundered) than that which is itself existent appears illusory and that which has no being appears to be real.  Thus, in such a world, the illusory has more of a claim on the nature of being itself than does that which appears to be really existent  (I recognize this is something of either an assumption or a tautology; my point is that I would despair if I was to grant greater efficacy to evil than to the good, presuming I thought correctly on the nature of these categories).  Can we then not trust our senses?  Are we forced to relegate that which is real to the realm of our illusory hopes?  And by illusory, mind you, I do not mean here that which has no claim on being itself, but that which appears (when considered in the full light of our sense impressions of the world) to have little or no claim on being.  Thus, to align ourselves with the good, we must align ourselves with that which appears illusory.  From the point of view of the human actor, then, to align ourselves with the good would be to align ourselves with that which is from our perspective illusory (since we have no effective means to judge whether or not such is illusory).   What price must we pay for such an alignment?  Or is it that our judgment has become so sundered from the source of being itself that we can no longer trust the nature of our judgment and must jump full force into the realm of the illusory?  Thus, the true nature of our being is what appears illusory and the false nature is that which appears existent.  Is this the choice we must make if we wish to align ourselves with the good?  This is a truly terrifying situation, if it is true.  For not all that is illusory is good, of this at least we can be sure.  How are we then to know whether we have aligned ourselves with goodness itself or with something else; perhaps something even more evil than the evil that we perceive in the world?  How are we to know that that which we have chosen as our good partakes of goodness itself as opposed to some greater evil, which turns out to also be illusory?  Wouldn't it be ironic if, in attempting to run away from that which we perceive as evil and running into the illusory (where we abnegate all our powers of judgment), we wind up serving that which is more evil than the very evil from which we originally fled.  In attempting to be good and righteous then, we wind up being more evil than we would ever have been if we had simply stuck with the evil world of the appearances.  This is truly a terrifying thought!  What do we get if we readily admit that the good itself might also be illusory?  I wonder...