Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 16, No 1 (2020)

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Being and Evil: Revisiting 'Privatio Boni'

Glauco Frizzera


After outlining the previously proposed notion of the ‘non-personal Universe of Being', this paper delineates a hypothetical scenario of the unimpeded development of Being in the world and the deviations from it - natural and moral Evil.  It argues first that they are inevitable, due to the multiplicity of systems operating in the cosmos and the complexity of the workings of the ‘moral brain'.  Secondly it argues that those deviations lead to ill effects (evils) which - in analogy to their traditional interpretation as privatio boni - are seen here as a privatio entis within humans and natural ‘substances' (i.e., a failure to reach their full Being), and not separate substances themselves; their mode of being fits best in the category of ‘states/events' (Chisholm).  On a practical level, the idea of its inevitability motivates a stoic acceptance of evil as a universal condition of life (although resistance to it is needed in particular situations in which it is preventable); in turn, the notion of privatio entis carries several psychological benefits, among which the conviction that, since the growth of Being/Good is endless, it will prevail in the future, consistent with the scientific idea of ‘synchronization', nature's ‘yearning for order' (Strogatz).

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