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PHL201H1 Study Guide - Final Guide: Manichaeism, Human Nature, Peter Abelard

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PHL205 Final Study Notes
Augustines Intellectual Development
- Argument against Manichean Dualism
Two main indestructible principles: a principle of goodness and a principle of evil. The
world is basically a manifestation of the interaction between this two principles (Manichean
But the idea of the cosmic fight is unintelligible. For why should one principle fight with he
other and cause things together with the other?
- Manichean reply because it has to otherwise it will be harmed
- Objection: Harm means destruction, by definition these principles are indestructible
The General Interaction Problem
- If one posits a multitude of cosmological principles, then one has to explain not only how
these principles act as principles but how they interact with one another.
- Even more important is the question of why they interact at all. If you say they have to
interact this can mean:
There is something intrinsic to them that makes them interact
- What does this mean? Maybe they would suffer harm if they didn't interact. But then
this seems to jeopardize their status as first principles. It further suggests that they
could collapse into a singular principle. If they face no harm and destruction then
there seems to be no point of interacting.
There is something extrinsic to them that makes them interact
- This is problematic because then it couldn't be a first principle
Augustines Cradle Argument
- Even small children commit sins: Human nature is therefore not innocent.
- This can be observed by the behaviour of infants.
Objection: this is ridiculous, the behaviour of infants is not sinful because we do not punish
infants for their behaviour.
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Monday, December 12, 2016
Response: That they are not punished does not mean that they have not committed a sin.
The behaviour that we punish in adults we do not punish in children, this is because infants
have cognitive limitations that make punishment useless
What is evil and why does it exist in the world (Augustine)
- Evil is a simple privation, the privation of goodness
Since everything that exists is good, evil things are also somewhat good. Evils are evils
insofar as they lack something.
- The origin of evil:
Platonist view: he was made aware of his own self and of the idea that the world is a
hierarchal structured entity.
- This made him aware that evil is something agents are responsible for and that it has to
come from an internal principle of the evildoing agent.
- This allowed him to understand what perversion of the will amounts to: namely to take
something that is lowly for something that is higher.
- To say that all evil is perversion of the will is too simple
Aren't there some evils that cannot be expressed this way, things that happen to us
but are not done by us?
- Augustine thinks that there are things that seem bad that aren't actually bad
- Summary:
Everything there is is good
Many things that seem evil aren't (hurricanes, viruses, etc.)
All evil things involve the will
There is a distinction between evil done and evil suffered. We dont need an explanation for
the latter because thats just a consequence of evil done
The will is evil when it wills things that are not appropriate
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Monday, December 12, 2016
Although God has created everything including the wills of creatures, God is not directly
responsible for evil. By creating (free) wills he has created a better world than one that does
not contain wills.
- The Divided Will: How is weakness of the will possible?
Willing something seems a lot easier than many other activities: it does not require physical
In physical activities, willing is different from acting. Therefore it can happen that we will
something but it doesn't happen. If the act is just to will something then it seems impossible
that I can fail to act.
- The Paradoxical Monstrosity:
Its easier for the will to command another thing than to command itself
We cannot command the will and we command the will?
- Augustines solution: there must be two wills in us at the same time. Each of them is
somewhat incomplete.
This is what the manicheans perceive as the struggle between good and evil
- The origin of the divided will is habit that comes from servitude to passion. Bound by ones
own consent to bad habits.
The Theft of the Pears: Is it possible to do bad things for the sake of badness?
- Why is the theft of pears different than other sins?
the peculiar motivation for it
the fact that it was done in full knowledge of its badness
- Motivation and Evaluation:
If an agent A voluntarily performs some action D, then there must be something A sees
in D that is objectively recognizable delight P and P moves A to act.
There seems to be nothing in the pear case that fits into this general schema of
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