Re: Evil ? (was: Hypostases (was: Natural Order & Belief)

From: Tom Caylor <>
Date: Sun, 24 Dec 2006 00:48:04 -0800


I have been doing a lot of reading/thinking on your former posts on the
Hypostases, other reading on Plotinus and the neo-Platonist hypostases,
and the Christian "interpretation" of the hypostases. There is a lot
to say, but I'll start by just giving some responses to your last post
on this.

On Dec 11, 8:46 am, Bruno Marchal
> I agree that the problem of evil (and thus the equivalent problem of
> Good) is interesting. Of course it is not well addressed by the two
> current theories of everything: Loop gravity and String theory. With
> that respect the comp hyp can at least shed some light on it, and of
> course those "light" are of the platonic-plotinus type where the notion
> of goodness necessitates the notion of truth to begin with. I say more
> below.

The discussions over the last two weeks on Evil, and just how to define
good and bad, underscore how puzzling this problem can be. I agree
that at the base of this is the question, "What is Truth?" I am not
satisfied with the Theaetetus definition, or Tarski's "trick". I
believe the answer to the question, "What is Truth?" which Pilate asked
Jesus, was standing right in front of Pilate: Jesus himself. The
Christian definition of truth goes back to the core of everything, who
is personal. As I've said before, without a personal core, the word
"personal" has lost its meaning. In the context nowadays of
impersonal-based philosophy, "personal" has come to "mean" something
like "without rational basis". But when the personal IS the basis, not
an impersonal concept of personal, but the ultimate Person, and with
man being made in the image of that ultimate Person, we have a basis
for truth, personality, rationality, good...

> >> Note also that the major critics by the neoplatonists on Aristotle,
> >> besides their diverging opinions on the nature of matter, is the
> >> non-person character of the big unnameable, but then for Plotinus the
> >> "second God" (the second primary hypostase is "personal"), and indeed
> >> G* has a personal aspect from the point of view of the machine. I
> >> agree
> >> (comp agree) with Plotinus that the big first cannot be a person. The
> >> second one can. To be sure Plotinus is not always completely clear on
> >> that point (especially on his chapter on free-will).
> > None of Plotinus' hypostases are both personal and free from evil (as
> > well as infinite, which we agree is needed (but not sufficient, I
> > maintain!) for the problem of meaning).

> It is a key point. I agree. None of Plotinus hypostases are both
> personal and free from "evil/good". Finding an arithmetical
> interpretation of the hypostases could then give a hope toward an
> explanation of goodness and evil.
> Please note that 7/8 of the hypostases are "personal-views".

I'll just deal with the first 4 hypostases, since this is the basis of
the rest, even though my John quote below addresses the others also.

Perhaps the neo-Platonists couldn't see how the core could be personal
(even though Plato called it the "Good"). It is hard to accept that the
core could be both infinite and personal (and good), since our view of
personality is finite (and flawed). But the infinite personal core, God
the Father, which replaces the neo-Platonist "ONE" or 0-person (of
course I maintain that the replacing was in the other direction :),
answers the big question of the origin of all other persons (and

You mentioned to Brent that perhaps invoking the second-person is a way
of explaining the origin of "personal" aspects. In a way this is true,
in that our earthly fathers/mothers and others take part as persons in
developing us as persons. But there has to be an ultimate source. And
in the Christian "interpretation" the ultimate source of all
first-person level experience (neo-Platonist "ALL-SOUL" or
"UNIVERSAL-SOUL") could be said to be God the Holy Spirit. He fills in
the gaps when we cannot find words to talk to him.

Then, the real clincher is the third person point of view, the
neo-Platonist "INTELLECT". The personal God did not stay silent and
keep all of this personhood stuff at a purely theoretical level which
we would have to take with blind faith. Instead the hopes of the
neo-Platonists were fulfilled in the Christ (Messiah) whose name was
Emmanuel which means "God with us", who was the "wisdom and power of
God". "In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word was with
God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through
him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been
made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light
shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it... The
Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his
glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of
grace and truth." (John 3:1,2,3,14) So the particular finite form that
we have, God somehow took on that same form. In this way God showed us
(who are in his image) true truth about himself in a way which we can
understand (just as a father tells truth to his children), without
having to tell us infinite exhaustive truth. This bridges the gap
between the celestial/divine and the terrestial/human. Christ is the
fixed-point between heaven and earth, the axis of the universe for us.
In Christ, we all see in third-person the Way, the Truth and the Life.

It's late, so I'll stop here.

Joyeux Noel!


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Received on Sun Dec 24 2006 - 03:48:25 PST

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