Confessions

The Impossibility of Evil Without Ignorance and the Progression Toward Good

As society's rules and ideals have changed over time, so have their

definitions of evil been completely revolutionized. While today evil is something morally wrong, a violation of some universal law, it was not always seen in the same light. St. Augustine and Plato both characterized evil as simply an absence of good. Since both men equated good with wisdom, evil, the absence of good, was akin to ignorance, the absence of wisdom. In their books, Confessions and Symposium, both Augustine and Plato support the idea that evil is only possible through ignorance. They explain the transition from evil and ignorance to good and wisdom as a progression toward fulfillment, and once a higher level of understanding is reached, it becomes obvious that evil had never been necessary in the quest for what is ultimately sought, happiness.

In Confessions, Augustine equates God with truth. The only way to find the truth is to find God, and the two are so intertwined that it is difficult to distinguish between them. "No one can tell me the truth of it except my God, who enlightens my mind and dispels its shadows," (52). Ultimately the two become one entity, and Augustine realizes, in retrospect, that he was searching for both at the...

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