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The Problem of Evil
Ibn Sînâ's Theodicy
The Problem of Evil
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Shams C. Inati - Author
Global Academic Publishing
Price: $32.95 
Paperback - 227 pages
Release Date: January 2000
ISBN10: 1-58684-006-1
ISBN13: 978-1-58684-006-8



The first comprehensive study of Ibn Sînâ’s Theodicy.

Who of us has not at one point wondered why it is that a God with absolute goodness, knowledge, and power would cause or allow evil in the world? This issue, which is traditionally known as the problem of evil and which is most puzzling to the human mind, received significant attention from Ibn Sînâ. In the present work, Shams C. Inati argues that Ibn Sînâ provides seven main theses to justify Gods causing or allowing the presence of evil in the world, and that the problem of evil disappears from his philosophy only by virtue of the thesis which relies on God’s omnipotence as he defines it (i.e., capacity to fulfill all possibilities).

Following a historical background, which traces the thought of those who had an impact on Ibn Sînâ’s response to this issue, including Plato, Aristotle, and Plotinus, the work analyzes in detail and critically examines Ibn Sînâ’s view. The book is an original piece of work and the first comprehensive study of Ibn Sînâ’s Theodicy, which helped shape later Islamic and Christian treatments of the subject and left significant marks on the thought of major medieval philosophers, including Ibn Rushd, Aquinas, and Suarez. 

Shams C. Inati is Professor of Islamic Studies at Villanova University.

A Global Academic Publishing Book

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Table of Contents


1. The Problem of Evil: Formulation and Historical Solutions

I. Formulation of the Problem of Evil
II. The Problem of Evil in Ibn Sînâ’s Philosophy
III. Main Types of Solutions to the Problem

2. Analysis to the Theories of Evil of Ibn Sînâ’s Predecessors

I. Plato

Metaphysical or Cosmic
(1) Static Evil
(2) Dynamic Evil

Psychological or Moral Evil
(1) Evil of the Evil Soul
(2) Evil of the Good Soul

II. Aristotle

Metaphysical Evil
Moral Evil

III. Plontinus

The Downward Movement
The Upward Movement
The Plotinian Theodicy

3. Ibn Sînâ’s Analysis of Metaphysical Evil

I. Essential Evil

Essential Evil Is Privation in Being
Essential Evil Is Privation of the Natural
Essential Evil Is Identified with Disorder
Essential Evil Is Evil in All Respects
Essential Evil Is Uncaused
Essential Evil Is Due to Matter

II. Accidental Evil

Existing Accidental Evil
(1) Existing Accidental Evil Is Being
(2) Existing Accidental Evil Is Good
(3) Existing Accidental Evil Is Good for the Cause of Enacting It
(4) Existing Accidental Evil Necessarily Results in Evil

Non-Existing Accidental Evil
(1) As the Effect of Existing Accidental Evil
(2) As the Privation of Additional Perfection

4. Ibn Sînâ’s Notion of Moral Evil

I. The Descent and Structure of the Soul

II. The Nature of the Good

III. The Way to Knowledge

The Role of the Imagination
The Role of the Theoretical Intellect
The Role of the Practical Intellect

IV. The Bliss of the Knowledgeable Soul

V. Moral Evil and the States of the Various Souls

5. Ibn Sînâ’s Solution for the Problem of Evil and the Problem of Destiny

I. The Solution of the Problem of Evil

God Is Good and Providential, But God’s Providence Is Not to be Understood in the Traditional Sense
There is More Good than Evil in the Universe
Evil Is a Necessary Consequence of the Good
(1) The Nature of the Two Privations
(2) An Examination of the Two-Privation Thesis
Evil Is a Necessary Means for the Good
God Cannot Create the World Free from Evil
Essential Evil Is Privation of Being
Human Evil Is Due to Human Free Will

II. The Solution for the Problem of Destiny

Summary and Conclusions
List of Abbreviations

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