Conceptions & Responses to the question of evil

World cultures and world systems how evil is cognized: a summary of Hasan Askari’s view from the book Towards A Spiritual Humanism…continued.

Two ideas are universally shared in various world traditions: 

1) there is something in the structure of the world which is the source of evil 2) there is something in the structure of man which is the source of evil.

Three responses to this twofold conception of evil:

1) Remedy should come from deep within the human self. All rational, philosophical responses to the challenge of evil: Purification of reason, Upholding wisdom. the entire philosophical understanding: Indian, Greek, is geared to this conception of the remedy of evil.

2) The second response to evil was that such resources were not present within man or woman. Therefore the need for assistance, intervention, help, from a transcendental source. Time and again differing communities were given a revelation. From the banks of Ganges to the banks of  the Yellow River in China, or Sinai, Galilee or Mecca. This revelatory response took on a religious colour.

3) The third response is formally called a Christian response, which according to Christian doctrine, needs a personal saviour. A unique redemptive agent as man is not capable of saving himself. As revelatory intervention through word, law, command is not sufficient Christianity throws up the idea of incarnation, of God becoming man to intervene.

Each response combines the other two responses in its formulation and self-construction. However, all the responses seem linked up with the nature of man – human subjectivity. They do not answer the first question about evil, the very structure of the world. 

The only clear response of grappling with the ontological structure of the world as a source of evil comes from Neo-Platonism. Present indirectly in Indian Vedic systems, indirectly in all religions, but present philosophically, directly and consciously in Neo-Platonism.  

Hasan Askari is interested in building a common ground, in sentiment and also in methodology. He is not interested in the familiar confrontation between revelatory guidance to humanity and humanist historical intra-human illumination on such questions.

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