Privation account of evil in Republic I

If good and evil are correlatives then they co-exist so that to have one is to have the other. This yin-yangism is common enough and might explain a lot about the world as we find it. The fault in the assumption is that only positive entities are correlatives, not a positive entity and its privation. Evils are dependent and parasitic upon goods and tend to the destruction of what they prey upon. If privations had tendencies they’d be ones to self-destruction.

Plato makes this clear at the end of Republic I in his account of the infirmity of injustice. If you start with an unjust group that wants to subordinate everyone’s good to their own, it’s clear that they aren’t going to be able to do this except to the extent that they agree on a common goal, subordinate their interests to a common good, strive to be fair in distributing plunder, find some way to tolerate and even enjoy each other’s company, etc. The same thing is true even for an unjust individual: doing crime and getting away with it demands some measure of self-control. Unjust activity demands justice in agency. The contradiction in all this is the cinematic and historical arc of the American mafia: the protagonists were once a happy family preying on suckers and chumps until it all fell apart and they started preying on each other. The logic of the plot is that evil can only succeed to the extent that it is false to its own nature, but one can only keep this going so long. Sooner or later, fish gotta swim.

So what appears to us as a dramatic dualist face-off is from God’s point of view a continually-repeating farce where he waits to see how long it will take evil to saw through the branch they’re sitting on. The Kings of the earth have set themselves against the Lord and his anointed… but he who sits in the heavens laughs. 

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