Thursday, July 14, 2005

A Recent Theodicy

This came up in the midst of a recent discussion of The Problem of Evil. A subject which is actually seen quite regularly on my blog.

"You know if there's no suffering and evil in the world, there'd be no pleasure or good either."

That's bull. I don't need to stub my toe in order to enjoy a good piece of pie. If evil did not exist, we wouldn't necessarily have concepts of "good" or "evil" since it would always be good but I can enjoy good without ever experiencing evil. Just like I can enjoy nice cool weather without ever going through a heat wave.


dæn said...

Just like I can enjoy nice cool weather without ever going through a heat wave.

The human perceptual system is entirely premised upon comparison. Thus, if the ambient temperature was always the same everywhere in the world, the concepts of "hot" and "cold" would have no meaning to us. As another example, human sensory organs are insensitive to all wavelengths of the EM spectrum except visible light. We experience infrared radiation the same way we experience ultraviolet and gamma: as a uniformly enveloping milieu, or, equivalently, not at all. Whether rooted in our senses or the outside world, an inability to distinguish sensory percepts is what destroys their utility for us, and that's exactly what would happen to our sense of temperature if the world's temperature always remained absolutely the same.

Orthoprax said...


Well, yes, a perception of "difference" and a terminology to go along with it would be missing, but the pleasure or lack of suffering that comes along with a certain reality remains.

Suppose a person who has never felt a hot day in his life, he may have no conception of what "hot" really is but is he suffering in his endless temperatness? He takes the coolness for granted but he's not suffering from it.

Now suppose a person who's lived in endless heat his whole life. He is _never_ comfortable. He has no conception of "cool" or "hot" but he does know that he's suffering.

See, it's not the perception of specifics that I'm talking about. So what if the words don't exist? You don't actually need an entire scale to exist for one to understand whether one likes the experience.

Btw, Orthopraxy?