Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A bit more on why suffering has no intrinsic value

Descent in to hell

In writing about evil in the context of our Lord's temptations in the desert, Stanley Hauerwas reminds us that "God's love risks our disobedience in the hope that we will freely return the love he has for us. God refuses to coerce us to participate in the love that is the interdependent life of the Trinity". He goes on to discuss the nature of evil, which, as pointed out last Friday, has no intrinsic value. It has no intrinsic value because evil has no intrinsic, that is, independent, existence. It is not too much to say that evil is always parasitical, a perversion.

To make this point, Hauerwas points us to something that St. Augustine wrote on the nature, or the lack of any distinct nature, of evil: "If every being, insofar as it is a being, is good then when we assert that a defective thing is bad, it would seem we are saying that evil is in fact good, for any defect depends on the goodness that is always prior and therefore there is no evil apart from that which is good. In other words, nothing evil exists in itself, but only as an evil aspect of some entity because every actual entity is good [omnia natura bonum est]. Absurd as this sounds, the logical connections of the arguments nevertheless compel us to this inevitability" (Matthew 51).

Picking up more from Hauwerwas, especially on politics, please see Politics: Worship and Sacrifice- making a judgment.

1 comment:

  1. O.K.--I get it, but I had to read it very carefully a second time to get it. The key to what you are saying is the word "intrinsic." People who are not willing to focus and think hard might easily misunderstand. I lik ethe point by the way.


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