Reality and the Meaning of Evil: On the Moral Causality of Signs

Reality 1 (1):146-204 (2020)
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ABSTRACT: “Evil is really only a privation.” This philosophical commonplace reflects an ancient solution to the problem of theodicy in one of its dimensions: is evil of such a nature that it must have God as its author? Stated in this particular way, it also reflects the commonplace identification of the real with natural being—the realm of what exists independently of human thought and perspectives—as opposed to all that is termed, by comparison, “merely subjective” and “unreal”. If we stick with this way of construing the meaning of “reality”, then by the excellent arguments of the tradition we are also stuck with defending the sufficiency of privation as a response to what evil “really is”. In this article, we argue against both ways of being stuck. We argue, first, that a one-sided focus upon the being of nature blocks an adequate understanding of the world we actually live in: the semiotically constituted lifeworld that is the proper locus of human realities, including moral evil. We argue, second, that the positivity of moral evil consists not only, nor even primarily, in the positivity of “action” as such, but in structures of objectivity engendered by creative reason that oppose the due end, and that involve a specific genus of pure object which we call a mystical daydream. Like any objects, these objects are communicable and formative in relation to the lifeworld, within which they in turn engender further interpretants for both those who do and those who suffer evil, thanks to the causality of signs.
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First archival date: 2020-05-15
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