Théodicée

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Theodicee title page from a 1734 version Theodicee title page.jpeg
Théodicée title page from a 1734 version

Essais de Théodicée sur la bonté de Dieu, la liberté de l'homme et l'origine du mal (Essays of Theodicy on the Goodness of God, the Freedom of Man and the Origin of Evil), more simply known as Théodicée, is a book of philosophy by the German polymath Gottfried Leibniz. The book, published in 1710, introduced the term theodicy , and its optimistic approach to the problem of evil is thought to have inspired Voltaire's Candide (albeit satirically). Much of the work consists of a response to the ideas of the French philosopher Pierre Bayle, with whom Leibniz carried on a debate for many years. [1]

Contents

Théodicée was the only book Leibniz published during his lifetime; [2] his other book, New Essays on Human Understanding , was published only after his death, in 1765.

Central claims

In various works, including his famous Historical and Critical Dictionary (1697), Pierre Bayle had argued that there is no defensible rational solution to the problem of why God permits evil. More specifically, Bayle had argued that powerful philosophical arguments can be given against a number of orthodox Christian teachings, including the goodness, justice, and freedom of God. Leibniz responds to Bayle's arguments in detail, arguing that it can be proved that God is an infinitely perfect being, and that such a being must have created a world that has the greatest possible balance of good over evil ("the best of all possible worlds"). [3] Leibniz distinguishes three forms of evil: moral, physical, and metaphysical. Moral evil is sin, physical evil is pain, and metaphysical evil is limitation. [4] God permits moral and physical evil for the sake of greater goods, and metaphysical evil (i.e., limitation) is unavoidable since any created universe must necessarily fall short of God's absolute perfection. Human free will is consistent with God's foreknowledge, because even though all events in the universe are foreseen and pre-determined, they are not necessitated (i. e., logically necessary), and only if human choices were necessitated would free will be an illusion. [5] Against Bayle's claims (derived from Augustine) that it is unjust for God to damn unbaptized infants or adult non-Christians who had lived as well as they could, Leibniz denies that Christian teaching supports such claims. [6] Against Bayle's claim that God cannot be free since he cannot fail to choose the best, Leibniz argues that such "moral necessity" is consistent with divine freedom. God would lack freedom only if there are no possible worlds in which less than maximal goodness exists, which is not the case, Leibniz argues. [7]

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Theodicy Theological attempt to resolve the problem of evil

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  1. the Plotinian theodicy, named after Plotinus
  2. the Augustinian theodicy, which Hick based on the writings of Augustine of Hippo
  3. the Irenaean theodicy, which Hick developed, based on the thinking of St. Irenaeus
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Irenaean theodicy Christian theodicy

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Augustinian theodicy Type of Christian theodicy designed in response to the evidential problem of evil

The Augustinian theodicy, named for the 4th- and 5th-century theologian and philosopher Augustine of Hippo, is a type of Christian theodicy designed in response to the evidential problem of evil. As such, it attempts to explain the probability of an omnipotent (all-powerful) and omnibenevolent (all-good) God amid evidence of evil in the world. A number of variations of this kind of theodicy have been proposed throughout history; their similarities were first described by the 20th-century philosopher John Hick, who classified them as "Augustinian". They typically assert that God is perfectly (ideally) good; that he created the world out of nothing; and that evil is the result of humanity's original sin. The entry of evil into the world is generally explained as consequence of original sin and its continued presence due to humans' misuse of free will and concupiscence. God's goodness and benevolence, according to the Augustinian theodicy, remain perfect and without responsibility for evil or suffering.

Theodicy, in its most common form, is the attempt to answer the question of why a good God permits the manifestation of evil. Theodicy attempts to resolve the evidential problem of evil by reconciling the traditional divine characteristics of omnibenevolence and omnipotence, in either their absolute or relative form, with the occurrence of evil or suffering in the world. “Writings and discourses on theodicy by Jews, Greeks, Christians, and Eastern religions have graced our planet for thousands of years,” and "debates about theodicy continue among believers and unbelievers alike".

Theistic finitism, also known as finitistic theism or finite godism, is the belief in a deity that is limited. It has been proposed by some philosophers and theologians to solve the problem of evil. Most finitists accept the absolute goodness of God but reject omnipotence.

References

  1. Austin Farrer (1985). Introduction to Theodicy. La Salle: Open Court. ISBN   0-87548-437-9.
  2. Michael Murray (16 March 2005). "Leibniz on the Problem of Evil". The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 26 January 2012.
  3. G. W. Leibniz, Theodicy: Essays on the Goodness of God, theFreedom of Man, and the Origin of Evil. Translated by E. M. Huggard. Lasalle, IL: Open Court, 1985, pp. 127-28.
  4. Leibniz, Theodicy, p. 136.
  5. Leibniz, Theodicy, p. 381.
  6. Leibniz, Theodicy, p. 385.
  7. Leibniz, Theodicy, p. 387.