An Analysis of Augustine's Argument in Confessions That Evil Does Not Exist

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Bernard G. Prusak

Abstract

For Augustine, following Genesis, it is a bedrock belief that creation is good. Perhaps this is the Augustinian belief. But it immediately gives rise to what is perhaps the Augustinian problem, namely, the problem of evil. For “[w]here then does evil come from, seeing that God is good and made all things good?” (Augustine 1992, 76; 1963, 130). In book 7 of the Confessions, Augustine famously denies that evil exists. His argument (book 7, chapter 12) takes the form of a reductio ad absurdum. On examination, however, Augustine's argument does not prove to be logically compelling.

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Section
Notes, Insights, and Flashes
Author Biography

Bernard G. Prusak

Bernard G. Prusak is a Gallen Fellow in the Humanities at Villanova University, where he teaches great books and philosophy. His current research is focused on the intersections of philosophical anthropology and bioethics, and on children’s rights and parental obligations; his papers on these topics have appeared, among other places, in Social Theory and Practice and the Hastings Center Report.