Friday, November 21, 2008

Leibniz "Dialogue on Human Freedom and the Origin of Evil"

It's a really good and interesting piece that can be found in the Hackett "G,W. Leibniz: Philosophical Essays". The crux of the argument about evil is that what appears chaotic or destructive, or evil, may actually be a necessary part of the greater universe so that if God eliminated the option of destruction and doing bad things he would have sacrificed options for good that exist because of the imperfections of evil. The comparison he draws is between rational and irrational numbers, specifically between regular numbers and the square root of two. The square root of two doesn't fit into any normal fraction and so is an irrational number, but because the square root of two is possible, is present, it's possible to construct a variety of geometrical figures that wouldn't be able to exist if the square root of two wasn't there.

The basis of evil, the basic imperfection leading to it, then, could be seen as a side effect in nature of a process that ultimately leads to a bigger variety of positive goods than would possible if that process was altered to eliminate evil.

Chaos and destruction then appear as a greater part of the cosmic drama that everyone on earth participates in. Necessary imperfections for people who themselves are imperfect.

No comments: