Saturday, August 18, 2007

A Theory of Evil

It is a serious error, if I am not mistaken, to treat time as a mode of apprehension. For one is then forced to consider it also as the order according to which the subject apprehends himself, and he can only do this by breaking away from himself, as it were, and mentally severing the fundamental engagement which makes him what he is. (I take the word 'engagement' here to represent both 'involvement' and 'committal'.)

This is the point of what I was trying to say yesterday afternoon,when I reflected that time is the very form of experimental activity. And from this point of view, to take up once more the metaphor of the absolute improvisation (a metaphor which seems to me inexhaustible) one finds oneself thinking like this. To transcend time is not to raise ourselves, as we can do at any moment, to the actually empty idea of a totum simul empty because it remains outside us and thereby becomes in some way devitalised. By no means. It is rather to participate more and more actively in the creative intention that quickens the whole: in other words, to raise ourselves to levels from which the succession seems less and less given, levels from which a 'cinematographic' representation of events looks more and more inadequate, and ceases in the long run to be even possible.

I think this is of the utmost importance. There, and perhaps only there, is the way open from creative evolution to a religious philosophy,but this way can only be taken through a concrete dialectic of participation.

I believe also, though I cannot yet establish it, that we have here the basis for a Theory of Evil, which would maintain its reality without denying its contingency.

Gabriel Marcel, A Metaphysical Diary (1928-1933), tr. Katharine Farrer (1949)
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