Entitative goodness

One of the very old objections to the convertibility of goodness and being is that it commits us to saying that, say, cancer is good. But the objection is misplaced, since the entitative goodness of cancer is part of the reason why it can be considered such an evil for those who are suffering from it.

If we take cancer as unregulated cell growth, then we can consider it either as unregulated or as growth. As unregulated, it is just the absence of law, and no positive reality is spoken of. When we consider the reality of the tumor, its evil for us is its own growth, and we’d certainly prove too much from the premise that growing is evil. A thing grows just as it eats, pushed along (usually thoughtlessly) towards the survival.

If survival, growth, development, eating, etc. aren’t evil, are they also not good? Are they just “neutral”? What could neutral mean here other than “without value”? So then survival is without value. As a blanket claim this is certainly wrong, but it might make sense as a claim that survival has only a contingent value, and so is sometimes good or bad, perhaps in relation to freedom from suffering or healthy functioning or the good of the species. So the claim that survival is without value is really a claim that it is dependent on goods existing at a higher register. Survival is “valueless” only so far as it is taken as a part, and seen as ranged under the axiom that the whole is greater than the part.

And so it’s because cancer is entitatively good that it is so evil for us. If it were evil in its own substance it would prohibit its own survival first, which is exactly what we would prefer it to do. That said, it’s impossible to conceive or hope to find the sort of self-destruction that we have to be talking about here. For a tumor to be evil in its substance it would have to attack itself not as a mistake or auto-immune disease or in an attempt to preserve its genetic code, but in some unknown desire to survive in no way at all, and to do so while being driven by nothing that makes survival a contingent good or evil, i.e. it would have to seek its own non-existence for no reason at all. It would also have to attack itself from its first moments of existing and from within, which would mean it could only survive by purely extrinsic forces and factors. But then it would have no intrinsic structure at all, but would only exist at a nexus of colliding forces. It wouldn’t be a substance.

%d bloggers like this: