Proclus' Theory of Evil: An Ethical Perspective

in The International Journal of the Platonic Tradition

Abstract

While the metaphysical aspects of Proclus' theory of evil have recently been studied by a number of scholars, its ethical implications have largely been neglected. In my paper I am analysing the moral consequences that Proclus' concept of evil has, at the same time using the ethical perspective to throw more light on Proclus' ontology. Most importantly, I argue that the difference between bodily and psychic evil is much more substantial that it might seem from On the Existence of Evils alone. Though both kinds of evil are characterized by their 'parasitical existence' (parhypostasis), evil in bodies is unavoidable, resulting from a wide network of cosmic corporeal interactions that no partial being can ever have control of. Psychic evil, on the other hand, is a product of human choice and is independent of external circumstances, depending wholly on the soul's ability to keep its proper vertical hierarchy. In this regard it is evil in a much more serious sense of the word, being actively caused (though unintentionally) rather than just passively suffered. In the last section of my paper I throw further light on this more dangerous kind of evil, showing it as resulting from an essential bi-dimensionality of human beings.

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Proclus' Theory of Evil: An Ethical Perspective

in The International Journal of the Platonic Tradition

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