Privatio Boni: What is the Substance of Evil?

Below is a Facebook Chat conversation that I had today with Andrew.  It’s really very interesting, and should be worthwhile to read. 


but are there other more successful arguments out there that reveal more about God’s intentions? I mean, all the arguments I know only give me good reason to believe in God, not to believe that he is all loving or merciful. How do I know he isn’t pure evil?


nevermind, for some reason I always get into a discussion about philsophy or politics when I talk to you lol

It is really strange


haha, yeah

I don’t know about omnibenevolence

that’s a very tricky one to think about

as a matter of fact, I should stop using the owrd


you’re familiar with the Moral Arguments?


the axiological argument? yes


exactly, I think they may be construed to support God being “all good” (questionable term…)

but only if we combine them with the concept of <i>privatio boni<i/>

italics FAIL

put it into wikipedia

privatio boni

It’s a short article that would take too long to explain

it’s one of the solutions to the problem of evil


cool, thx


tell me when you’re done reading it, it’s really interesting




its an interesting way of looking at things


yes it is

I would believe it

that evil is insubstantial

and is, like a shadow, dependent on the good

remember when you asked me about God conserving creation?

and whether this meant He was conserving evil?




Let’s look at it this way:

even if God had created the universe with evil in it, he would not have created evil

if I pour an amount of water into a glass, am I creating both water, and also emptiness?


of course not


If I fill the glass halfway, I have obviosly not added half water, and half emptiness to acheive this

and if I conserve it thus, I am not conserving the emptiness, only the water

so God is not conserving evil


indeed, when speaking of creation, the evil is precisely NOT created! lol

that would be its definition


what do mean by not creating evil?

do you mean evil does not exist?


well, emptiness is the absence of the water. similarly, evil is the absence of good

“privatio boni”


then we can never truly call a person evil, only their individual actions. For I don’t think a person can be absent of good


I was about to say, “yes, evil would be always extrinsic”. But is that true? Can there be no intrinsic evil?

like intrinsic value? (aka, good)


Well, if there is intrinisc good, it seems that there would have to be intrinsic evil. For how can we know what intrinsic good is if we have nothing to compare it to?


for example, money has extrinsic value. it’s value lies outside of itself, becuase it is only paper


what is pure good without pure evil


what does “pure” mean?

Fill the cup halfway with water. is the water only half pure?

surely not

is the emptiness only half pure?


so what coclusion can we make about intrinsic evil?


well, I’m still thinking about it

I think the evil is not a thing in itself, certainly. But does this prevent it from having intrinsic value?


I mean, how can we know what is intrinsically good if we have no knowledge of its opposite: that which is intriniscally evil?


the use of the word intrinsic is the key here

I would say “good in its own right”

rather than “good FOR …”


right, its goodness is not dependent upon anything but itself


well I’m sure that’s saying a bit too much, but yeah, basically


but how can we make such a conclusion? Wouldn’t knowing what is good in itself presuppose that we have knowledge of what isn’t good in itself?


yes, I think so

it would not presuppose it, mind you. it would IMPLY it


I am working on the terminology, give me a break lol


haha, yeah


anyway, I think we can conclude there is intrinic evil if there is intrinsic good


I think “things” would be analogous to the cups with water we discussed earlier

those things which are intrinsically good are cups with any amount of water, and those extrinsically good have the capability of containing water

an intrinsically evil thing would be the absence of a cup entirely

so an intrinsically evil thing is a non-thing

so I don’t think there is intrinsic evil

much less extrinsic evil

but then again, am empty cup cannot be extrinsically good

it is only extrinsically valuable, since it could go both ways. It has the capability of containing water, and also the capability of not existing, or breaking


so let’s amend our analogy. Intrinsic evil is a broken cup, and there is no extrinsic good or evil, since extrinsicness can bring about either

so we say extrinsic “value”, being neutral

or an empty cup

which can break or be filled

but a full cup can also break!

so we might say that even that which is intrinsically good, has the capability of being emptied, or broken as is


so if God is intrinsically good, can be emptied?


I wouldn’t say He is intrinsically good

I would say that He is the mark of what is good

that things are good insofar as they resemble Him

He is not a cup with water, He IS the water


but if the cup shatters, what happens to God?


He is still there, I suppose

the cup is breakable, but for the purposes of our analogy, I don’t think we should think the same of the water

for when the cup breaks, the water does not also break. It is merely spilled, and cannot really be lost


unless it lands in a black hole…






yeah, but this was a cool discussion

you know, I think I’ll post it on High-School Apologetics, if you don’t mind, lol


no problem

If you ever update it lol


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