is a Latin phrase which can be translated as "privation of good." It is a theological doctrine
that Evil, unlike Good, is insubstantial, so that thinking of it as an entity is misleading. Instead, Evil is rather the absence or lack of good.
It is typically attributed to St. Augustine of Hippo
, who wrote:
Our perceptions are based on contrast, so that light
and dark, good and evil, are imperceptible without each other; in this context, these sets of opposites show a certain symmetry
. But a basic study of optics teaches us that light has a physical presence of its own, whereas darkness does not: no "anti-lamp
" or "flashdark
" can be constructed which casts a beam of darkness onto a surface that is otherwise well-lit. Instead, darkness only appears when sources of light are extinguished or obscured, and only persists when an object absorbs a disproportionate amount of the light that strikes it.
The relationship between light and darkness is often used to frame a metaphorical understanding of good and evil. This metaphor can be used to answer the problem of evil
: If evil, like darkness, does not truly exist, but is only a name we give to our perception of privatio boni
, then our widespread observation of evil does not preclude the possibility of a benevolent, omniscient, and omnipresent God.
If the metaphor
can be extended, and good and evil share the same asymmetry as light and darkness, then evil can have no source, cannot be... Read More