The Secular Problem of Evil

James Paul Gee, Excess Copyright, Mar 31, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes

James Paul Gee looks at the problem of evil from a secular perspective and comes up with the old Taoist maxim that life in the balance is the recipe for good. "Cooperation on a large scale—that is, any sort that could lead to cultures, institutions, cities, and states—requires solving what I will call 'hard continua problems'.  These are problems where too much of something is bad and too little of it is bad, but finding the 'middle-ground' is hard." But this isn't the answer to the question of why there is evil - it's the answer (or an answer) to the question of why it's so hard to eradicate. But if he wants the answer to the deep question, it's this (also, I would say, found in ancient Taoist texts): good and evil are something we create. The world is neither inherently good nor evil, but as soon as we begin to describe it, we begin dividing according to our perceptions, tastes, and objectives and needs. And hence we create out of natural events the classification of 'good' and 'evil'. And, over time, it becomes something we recognize, more like a feeling than like a law.

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