How the terrible reality of evils, especially the pains and sufferings of innocent children, can be reconciled with the existence of God is the greatest difficulty that faces a metaphysics that claims to know God’s existence and a religion that proclaims the faith in an infinitely good and omnipotent God. This book examines and refutes the alleged disproof of God’s existence from the reality of evil, especially from innocent suffering; the infinite goodness of God can be defended against all objections to the existence of God derived from the horrible reality of evils in the world. The present work takes the “atheism from evil” seriously. It does not give too facile an answer to the atheist claims. It defends the full reality and existence of the evils of pain and moral evil, and the profound metaphysical problem posed by them, against four philosophical theories that belittle or even deny the reality of evil. It subjects to a careful critique especially two theories: the thesis that evils are an indispensable part of the best possible world, and the most venerable of these theories proposed by almost all Christian and theistic versions of theodicy: the privation theory of evil, according to which evil does not possess any being and reality at all, but is only “a conspicuous absence of due good and of being.” By a thorough analysis of some errors and many insights contained in the latter theory and by a critical examination of its underlying assumption that all beings are either God or created by God, the book shows that banishing evil to the realm of non-being flies into the face of experience and truth and is in no way necessary to defend the primacy of the Good and the parasitic form of being evil possesses. To avoid the Manichean error that gives to evil an equal standing in reality to that of the good, it is in no way necessary to deny the full reality of evil. Philosophies that deny the existence of an omnipotent and all-good God concentrate on the evil of suffering and forget moral evil. They fail to see how the latter demands an anthropodicy, a defense of man. The present essay shows that not all theodicy fails, as Kant pretended, but that, much rather, a purely philosophical rational defense of man (an anthropodicy) in the face of moral evil fails. All this requires the clear distinction between the man-centered evil of suffering and the God-centered moral evil. A careful analysis shows that all evils exist as consequence of the bad response created persons give to the risk God took in creating free will, but cannot at all be blamed on God, because this “divine risk” renders possible the highest values and goods of whose realization finite and contingent persons in this world are capable. In its second chapter, the present study elucidates the singular contribution of Descartes to theodicy. Descartes raises and partly answers the question whether and why the veracity of God is compatible with the host of errors humans hold about the most important matters. The present work seeks to elaborate this Cartesian contribution and to free it from some errors. Moreover, it presents a large number of reasons that allow us to see that the reality of evil in the world does not refute the existence of God. Even the entire series of intelligible answers, however, that a philosophical theodicy can offer, while they refute the atheist charge against God, cannot remove the unfathomable mystery why God permits the sea of evils. Thus a purely philosophical theodicy can give its ultimate answer only through a Socratic wisdom that ends in silence. After having ascended to the heights of what human reason can know about God and about evil, the philosopher cannot give an exhaustive reply to the questions raised by the incomprehensible mystery of evil and must not replace the mysterious answer to evil only religion, and indeed only the eschaton, can give by a philosophical construction such as the “best possible world” theory of Leibniz.
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About the Author · Josef Seifert, b. 1945. Ph.D. 1969; Habilitation 1975. Assistant Professor University of Salzburg, Associate Professor University of Dallas; Founding Rector (& Full Professor) of the IAP Liechtenstein(1986-); Full Professor at the IAP-PUC in Chile (2004-2012); Dietrich von Hildebrand Chair for Realist Phenomenology at the IAP–-IFES, Spain (2011-). Author of 29 philosophical books in German, English, Italian, and Spanish (many of them translated into other languages), and 360 articles in 12 languages. He is considered by many to be the leading representative of realist phenomenological philosophy today. His best known works include; in German: Knowledge of Objective Truth. Body and Soul. The Body/Mind Problem and the Contemporary Philosophical Discussion. Being and Essence. Truth and Person. The Controversy about Truth. Truth and Truth Theories. God as Proof of His Own Existence. A New Phenomenological Foundation of the Ontological Argument (2000; 2001 in Arabic); Schachphilosophie. In English: Back to Things in Themselves. A Phenomenological Foundation for Classical Realism What is Life? The Originality, Irreducibility, and Value of Life. Discours des Méthodes. The Methods of Philosophy and Realist Phenomenology. In other languages: Being and Person (Italian, Rumanian translation, enlarged English edition 2016); Ritornare a Platone. Superación del escándalo de la razón pura.. Philosophical Diseases of Medicine and Their Cure. Conocimiento de Dios por las vías de la razón y del amor; True Love. Of his articles “Philosophy as a Rigorous Science. Towards the Foundations of a Realist Phenomenological Method – in Critical Dialogue with Edmund Husserl’s Ideas about Philosophy as a Rigorous Science” ( German; Czech; Russian; Lihuanian; Italian). „Is ‘Brain Death’ actually Death?,” The Monist. „Absolute Moral Obligations towards Finite Goods as Foundation of Intrinsically Right and Wrong Actions. A Critique of Consequentialist ‘Teleological Ethics’: Destruction of Ethics through Moral Philosophy?“. “Is the Right to Life or is another Right the most Fundamental Human Right - das ‘Urgrundrecht?’: Human Dignity, Moral Obligations, Natural Rights, and Positive Rights?”(2013). Recipient of EU (European Community) Medal and Order of Merit. „Austrian Cross of Merit for Science and Art 1st Class“. Dr. honoris causa.
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