We can put it all in a picture, as well. Suppose you're given the opportunity to create a sandbox-universe, to make it beautiful. And suppose one of the things you can put into your sandbox-universe is a violet that is extraordinarily beautiful, but the kind of beauty it has is very fragile, so that it will likely last only one afternoon.
One way of approaching this, the Manichean way, is to say: "This violet is corruptible, inherently passing, and its corruptibility taints its beauty with ugliness. It could only be allowed if its beauty, or the beauty of things coming from it, were greater than the ugliness of its destruction."
But another way of approaching this, the Thomistic way, is to say: "Though the violet may pass away, it is extraordinarily beautiful, and thus will play an important role in the fullness of beauty that is the end of the sandbox-universe, even if we only have it one afternoon. As for its passing away, we can even set things up so that its contribution of beauty to the universe continues even when it is destroyed by its making possible other beautiful things. By giving up its beauty it will have a share in the beauty of others."
Sunday, June 22, 2014
A Passing Violet
In explaining Aquinas's account of natural evil elsewhere, I came up with this; it needs refinement, but I am putting it here so that I will remember it.