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Ignorance of Evil
Talking Metaphysics with Rolo Slavskiy
Rolo over at the Slavland Chronicles invited me on to discuss the nature of evil. Head on over to his Substack to listen in:
I had a lot of fun. Rolo’s a great conversationalist, has a lot of interesting things to say, and challenged me on some of my more half-baked ideas, which provided a lot of food for thought. No doubt we will continue the conversation at some point!
Among the topics discussed:
The necessity to start with experience. Much theology and philosophy is mere speculation—games of logic using untested assumptions. As Rolo argued, logic isn’t the place to start. Like the left hemisphere, it must only be used in service to the whole of experience, bringing it into order. In this case, that means the reality of evil: on earth and as is presented in mystical experience.
Many people have a tendency to deny the reality of evil. In the world, this may mean denying what our lying eyes plainly perceive. This may also extend to thinking of evil not as really evil, but merely as good in disguise—a type of optical illusion. Anyone who has come face to face with evil will have trouble buying that one.
The gnostic resurgence. It’s easy to imagine God is good and all is right with the world in good times. But when the veil is removed and evil unmasked for all to see (if they have eyes to see it), the old philosophies feel stale and wholly inadequate. An encounter with reality requires new conceptions of reality.
In short, the current models don’t work. Our everyday experience (and the experience of the mystics) reveals an uncomfortable truth: evil is real. There is a division in the world and in our own natures—a battle between two very real and independent forces. Call them what you will: wrath and love, Satan and God, the dark and the light. Even at the birth of Christianity this was understood. In our present state, evil may be the dominant force in the world at large.
Not everyone is the same. I’ve said it before here and I’ll say it countless more times. Humans are not constructed like cookie-cutters. Here the rationalists were wrong. Not all men are rational animals. In today’s meme culture this insight has taken on a life of its own with NPCs. The gnostics called them “hylics” (in contrast to “psychics” and “pneumatics”). Some people lack an inner psychic milieu (inner dialogue, the capacity to visualize, decent longterm memory, emotional depth). Rolo and I discuss some of the implications.
On top of that, some people are pure evil. One might say, demonic—another topic we broached.
Though mysteries remain. What exactly is the nature of evil? Is it merely biological? Spiritual? Both? Is it selfishness? If so, why is it so often self-destructive? And if evil is a real force in the universe, what is its ultimate origin? With any luck, after a few more conversations, I’m sure we’ll be able to clear everything up. Shouldn’t be too hard!
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