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Chapter 6 - Does Evil Have a Cause?

from Part II - Whence Evil?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 November 2020

Tobias Hoffmann
Affiliation:
The Catholic University of America, Washington DC
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Summary

Chapters 6–7 constitute Part II, entitled “Whence Evil?” Chapter 6 studies theories of the first cause of evil in Augustine and Pseudo-Dionysius. Assuming that moral evil came about in a world created good, Augustine faces the question of what first causes evil. If one assumes that evil has a cause, one is faced with the dilemma that moral evil is caused by either a good will or an evil will; but a good will cannot cause moral evil at all, and an evil will cannot cause the first moral evil. So Augustine argues that evil does not have an efficient cause, but only a deficient cause, which means that evil ultimately lacks an explanation. Augustine holds that evil originated in something good, but cannot be caused by something good. Pseudo-Dionysius agrees with Augustine that evil lacks an efficient cause and adds that evil cannot be a final cause: no one acts for the sake of evil.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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  • Does Evil Have a Cause?
  • Tobias Hoffmann, The Catholic University of America, Washington DC
  • Book: Free Will and the Rebel Angels in Medieval Philosophy
  • Online publication: 26 November 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316652886.007
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  • Does Evil Have a Cause?
  • Tobias Hoffmann, The Catholic University of America, Washington DC
  • Book: Free Will and the Rebel Angels in Medieval Philosophy
  • Online publication: 26 November 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316652886.007
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Does Evil Have a Cause?
  • Tobias Hoffmann, The Catholic University of America, Washington DC
  • Book: Free Will and the Rebel Angels in Medieval Philosophy
  • Online publication: 26 November 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316652886.007
Available formats
×