Anti-ideals and explaining evil

in the freedom of things…. And in the openness of the process

The Ideal of our Process/System is diversity in unity. It is a maximization of both diversity and unity, or of variety and organization. So the Greater Ideal is a maximization of both these polar ideals, or a working balance between them. On one hand, greater diversity is ideal, but only if there is sufficient unity or organization in the complex-relations of this diversity. On the other hand, greater unity is ideal, but only if this sufficiently allows for a maximization of freedom and diversity.

Thus, any under-achievement of this larger Ideal, and the necessary polar ideals within it, must be considered as an anti-ideal or as an antithesis. A stronger term for this in western-Christian language would be evil, but in our present discussion there is no assumed evil force that is intentionally opposed to Divine Will or the Divine Ideals. For now, we will avoid using this term evil, with its often confused connotations and presuppositions. Instead, we will consider what is anti-ideal, in contrast to the ideals.

Anti-Ideals are contrasting opposites to Ideals. Thus the anti-Ideals are minimization of either diversity or unity. Or the anti-Ideal is insufficient, dysfunctional balance (or reconciliation) between diversity and unity/order. One type of anti-Ideal is a maximization of freedom/diversity without a balancing unity/order or an avoidance of unity/order. In more practical common language, this anti-Ideal is freedom and innovation gone mad, overly radical, without sufficient cooperation within an encompassing unity/order; thus producing chaos. If there is insufficient harmony, cooperation and order, then chaos and disorder prevails. We will call this the possibility of chaotic madness. It develops because of an over-enthusiasm for creative innovation and diversity, without sufficient cooperation and respect for the greater contextual unity/order –which has to function well so that the diversity within it can exist. So freedom and diversity are ideals, but turn into problems when the ideal of unity/order is neglected.

The other type of anti-Ideal, polar to the above, is a maximization of unity and order, at the expense of suppressing creative innovation and diversity. An example of this would be an authoritarian regime or ethic, whereby enforced uniformity and monolithic order work to suppress spontaneity, freedom, creative innovation and diversity. So here there is the problematic possibility of rigid suppressive order, or we could call this crystallized order.

Thus, here are the two general problems, or anti-ideals, produced by imbalances and disregard in one polar ideal, in relation to the other. For practical example, in the case of individuals living in a social world, the problem is often about freedom gone to a disorderly extreme – without sufficient regard for the overall good and unity. In contrast, social, political and economic systems may tend to favor unity and order, above the ideals of freedom and diversity. This is often justified on functional grounds. Yet, organizational systems need to allow degrees of freedom; just as much as free individuals need to respect and functionally cooperate within an existing order or organization.

Also to note is that problems of disbalance can occur intrinsically within oneself, the individual (entity), or occur extrinsically in relation to others. In other words, chaos and/or suppression may exist intra-personally, or it may exist inter-personally. Also, we can study problematic or harmful effects imposed from some entities on other entities; or in other words, how people impose on others. In addition, we can study harmful effects as they exist in individuals or systems; or in other words, how there is a problem in an individual or system. So we can study both, how a problem is interpersonally spread, and how a problem is intrapersonal experienced. Moreover, it should be noted that in some cases there might be someone or some structural system which can be blamed or held responsible for a particular problem or disbalance. Yet in other cases, no one person nor larger system can be pointed with blame and responsibility; for in these cases, they are all accidental victims, so to speak, like people who accidentally acquire a virus and then accidentally and unintentionally spread it to others. Nonetheless, even though ethical blame may not be pointed in such cases, there must still be an inherent responsibility to heal thyself and others at any moment of time, as best as able, no matter how one ever became ill.


So, in relation to the above understanding, God is like a Cosmic Gambler, playing for an aesthetic and ethical balance between harmony/unity on the one hand, and variety/complexity on the other. God could play safe, but only at the cost of variety and intensity. Or God could play for high stakes in variety and excitement, but at the probable loss of harmony, unity and peace. So God chooses to play for a balance. But even this is not certain, because the outcomes depend on undeterminable factors of freedom. The Divine Power makes its Wish more probable and reliable in the overall long run; yet God is not omniscient or certain about the how nor the particular details. The how and particular details still remain to be determined. These are not predetermined, for this would demand that all is predetermined. The determination is not unilateral; it is partly by the Divine Influencing Will, partly by the creative freedom of living creatures, and partly by unintentional chance. Tragedy, mistakes, and sufferings could have been ruled out, but only by opting for a universe utterly determined and utterly boring.


In a God-dominated deterministic universe, God manipulates events and entities. In a universe where accidents are possible and entities have some degree of freedom and self-determination, God is not coercive but can still be influential. So there is self-determination in the world on the one hand, and the persuasive activity of God on the other. Accident and chance must be necessary in a universe that is not completely determined, but where degrees of self-determination exist. Then, as well, evil springs not from providence, but rather from possible mistakes, stupidities, or accidents made due to freedom.


There has to be a universe where there is resistance and inertia, for without this there could only be either determinism or no stability. There has to be some pain and struggle, because these are inevitable in any learning process and growth. Even selfishness is necessary in the overall cosmic purpose, because there has to be parts involved in a creative dialogue and evolution. Yet, this does not entail that each instance of resistance is God's will or is necessary in the overall cosmic purpose.

Resistance to a higher will cannot be God's will at the same time, unless God is a schizophrenic.

So the simplest solution and understanding is to see that evil, selfishness, bad, mistakes, an automatism are allowed - because they must be possible in the overall divine scheme of freedom and exploration and undetermined process.


more notes on question of evil

novelty comes from freedom; but all cosmic and living systems have limits on this freedom. Sustainable systems need some limits, which maintain degrees of order. Without limits there could be radical chaos and break down of system stability.


Everything, especially humans, have degrees of freedom and self-determination. This can lead to harmful results, ecologically or socially. Or, it can lead to new unexpected discoveries and new artistic ways of being. Freedom of self-determination does not have to lead to mere selfish oriented action. For instead, one can chose freely to work harmoniously within a greater ecological system or within a greater divine purpose.


Process, which is essential to the whole purpose of existence, requires multiple limited freedom – and any world with multiple limited freedom must contain the possibility of unintelligent mistakes, non-integrative actions devoid of love, and occasions of what we could name as evil. No particular evil is necessary, but the possibility of evil is necessary in a system process containing freedom. God, as the highest power of loving Intelligence, offers influence to experiences and events, but is not absolutely compelling because within the System of existence are degrees of freedom and also lower forces of inertia. In nature, humans have more possibility to cause suffering because we have more freedom.


Also remember that sufferings and setbacks are inevitable experiences along the evolutionary process, through individuals and humanity in general.

Remember that some suffering and fights/struggles are part of a learning and maturing process, as in pain before learning or as in struggle before synthesis.

Also – some evils, problems, or sufferings are really no one’s fault, but rather consequences of beings with different interests or needs interacting together in a creative struggle. These cases would be classed as interactive problems of diverse self-assertions.

… or classed as conflicts of interests – which can also be internal psychological problems.

Philosophical note: it would illogical to argue that this is the best world God could make, or in Process Language that God is doing the best given the state of world forces. Because this begs the question as to why God created the world so difficult to begin with or made people and forces so hard-headed.

The element of freedom in the overall metaphysical system brings with it inevitable possibilities of unpredictability, chance, and accident, though also an exciting organically developed creative diversity.

much of what counts as evil in either of the above directions is no one's fault, the unwilled and unpredictable consequence of different creativities or lines of creativity, all doing their thing.

[[[see also my new notes on this]]

Creative choice, which brings capacity for the achievement of the good and the beautiful, also brings with it a capacity for evil.

intentional evil -- he consciously intends to be destructive of the intrinsic good of other actualities or of their environment.


David Griffin makes useful distinction between "genuine evil", "only apparent evil" and "prima facie evil". Genuine evil is any action that is harmful to others, without any sufficient justification of being significantly instrumental or necessary to a higher good, and without which the universe would have been better; life would have been better had it not happened at all. Apparent evil is anything which on the surface seems evil or not-good, but which actually has instrumental value for a greater good; for example some instances of suffering in a learning process. Prima facie evils are anything which may be judged evil at first glance, on principle. Some prima facie evils may be considered on further reflection to be genuine evils, but others may turn out to have been only apparent evils if they are compensated for by a greater goodness to which they have contributed.

{{notice that if one holds a view that each manifest moment is the best possible world in the wisdom eyes of God, or that every event has necessary divine purpose, or that everything is all part of a greater divine plan of good; then it must follow that there is no genuine evil.}}