Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 1.6K

Summary of text [comment] pages 43 and 44

[What was de Chardin trying to convey?

He wrote four generations ago.  2013 is 80 years past 1933.

He was not acquainted with Hayek’s notion of “spontaneous order”.

The “ecology” and the “environment” are spontaneous orders.

The ecology and environment are beautiful to behold.  Each appears to be a “unity” that puts “multiplicities” into context.

Is this what de Chardin envisioned?]

Schoonenberg quoted de Chardin at length.

I consider this quote in the next few blogs.]


Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 1.6J

Summary of text [comment] pages 43 and 44

Schoonenberg noted that, according to de Chardin, “evil” arose from statistical necessity, due to the multiplicity and variety of innumerable attempts to bring “something out of Nothing”.  These attempts, even for the short span of a lifetime, means that scandals – events that shock our moral sensibilities – will occur.  But do not worry. The world is rising towards ever increasing unity.

[To me, it seems that de Chardin’s term “unity” stands in contrast to “multiplicity”.  “Unity” puts “multiplicity” into context and “multiplicity” situates “nothingness”.

In nested form: Unity3( multiplicity2( Nothingness1))

“Unity3” brings “mulitiplicity2” into relation with “the potential inherent in Nothingness1”.

Unity3 puts multiplicity2 into context.

Multiplicity2 emerges from Nothingness1.

Multiplicity2 situates Nothingness1.

Perhaps, de Chardin imagined “unity” to be “some sort of end point in the evolution of multiplicity”.

But is that not the same as a normal context?]


Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 1.6I4

Summary of text [comment] pages 43 and 44

De Chardin claimed that, in our evolutionary understanding of biology, the problem of natural evil had vanished.  [Schoonenberg used the term “physical”, but I have already assigned the same term for particular purposes.]

The constitution of creatures out of nothingness imposes a limitation on “what is created”.

[That is, in the creation of a positive good – the creature – out of nothingness, one necessarily – logically – creates the potential for a privation.  All creatures live within certain the limits.]


Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 1.6I3

Summary of text [comment] pages 43 and 44

Is evil necessary?

[Look at natural selection.  Natural selection occurs when one natural subject puts another natural subject to the test – occasionally pushing it to the limit – so to speak.  The nested form containing both natural metaphysical and physical evil is built into the system.  Disorder and failure accompany every spontaneous order and success.

Consider the way that we use the terms “environment” and “ecology”.

“Environment” associates to “physical evil”, the source of the test, the situation.

“Ecology” associates to “metaphysical evil”. For example, the consequences of an environmental challenge is seen in the survival of populations. Certain adaptations will reduce the cost of that particular challenge.  But the price is always being exacted.

And yet, we regard both the “environment” and the “ecology” as good, perhaps sacred, spontaneous orders.

Given this, is it any wonder that Schoonenberg turned to Pierre Tielhard de Chardin for an answer to the apparently insoluble problem of natural evil?]


Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 1.6I2

[Second, let me look at moral evil:

Moral evilphysical2(1):  __3( human acts create situation2( moral evil proceeds – through intentionality – from the – immature – person1 …)

Moral evilmetaphysical3(2): … determines “subject1” as a person3 – in need of conversion – & determines status of subject(3)( limitations under the situation2 ( __1 )

Can I associate moral evilmetaphysical to a context that possesses a depth, longevity and destructive power that is greater than natural evilmetaphysical?

For moral evil, status of the subject(3) is not the only property determined.  The status of subject1 is also judged to be a person3.  Thus, an intersubjective relation necessarily accompanies the determination.   Here is the site of the depth, duration and destruction.  One context contains both perpetrator and victim.

Consider the relation between a town and an earthquake fault line.  There is no intersubjective relation between the two.

Consider the relation between a criminal and a victim.  There an intersubjective relation between the two.

This relation has no bottom, it endures, and it can be totally destructive.]


Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 1.6I1

Summary of text [comment] page 43

Physical and moral evil differ not only in their origin but also in their depth, duration and destructive tendencies.

[Now the topic really gets interesting.  Or, I should say, confusing.

To me, depth, duration and destructive tendencies points to lawessential and its conjugates, lawacceptance_of_consequences and lawdenial_of_consequences.

So let me look at natural evil first:

Natural evilphysical2(1) :  ___3( an event, say an earthquake2( … proceeds from natural subject1; say, geological processes1))

Natural evilmetaphysical3(2) :  … determines status of natural subjects(3); say, living forms(3)( radically altered habitat plus limitations of living beings2( ___ 1))

Can I associate both natural and moral evilmetaphysical to a context that “possesses some kind of infinity” because “the determination of status” belongs to a normal context?

Normal contexts always possess some kind of infinity, because they, like all judgments, are atemporal.  This includes both lawessential and thinkdivine.

Maybe this gets me part of the way.

However, this does not seem to address how natural and moral evils differ in depth, duration and destructive tendencies.]


Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 1.6H

Summary of text [comment] page 43

Saint Anselm said, “Sin possesses some kind of infinity.”  Schoonenberg relates this to ‘man’ refusing to live in communion with an infinite God.

Physical evil does not have these features.

[How are we to fit this into a nested form?

Does “refusing to live in communion with an infinite God3” correspond to “a determination of the state of subject1 as person3“?

It sure seems that way.

“Sin2 possesses some kind of infinity” is formulated by Schoonenberg as “some sort of actual limitation2” contextualized by “refusing to live in communion with an infinite God3”.

Consequently, Anselm may be addressing moral evilmetaphysical3(2()) by pointing out a limitation2 of “the person who makes sin possible1”.]


Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 1.6G3

[Humans innately frame both moral and natural evil in terms of moral evil.

Scientists intuitively understand this. In order to communicate the mechanisms of a natural subject, they feel compelled to explain its apparent responsibility (corresponding to the intentionality associated with the need for conversion) and developmental history (corresponding to the intentionality associated with immaturity).

Otherwise, nonscientists will not comprehend the scientific explanations.

Of course, these attributes appear absurd to those trained in pure science.  Mechanistic explanations should stand on their own.

But read any scientific article and you will find the vapors – the spirits – of “why it acts”, “what it is responsible for”, and “how it came to be”.

Simply put, we orient ourselves on the basis of moral designs.  We often confound the the moral and the natural, even though they are distinct.]


Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 1.6G2

Summary of text [comment] page 42

[Maturity and fairness are crucial for understanding moral evil.

Now, allow me to go backwards and tackle the assertion that natural evil appears as moral evil.

We already know that both have the same categorical structure.  Is this enough to account for our experiences?  Or are we hardwired to confound the two in some other way?

Let us look at the two nested forms:

evilmetaphysical3(2()) & evilphysical2(1)


inherent limitations, privation of capacities3(2()) & challenges, privation of goods2(1)


determination of status of subject1 as person3 (the wolf) and the status of subject3 with inherent limitations and lacking certain capacities3(2()) (the sheep) & challenges, privation of goods by an agent, subject1 (the wolf)2(1)

The singular difference between natural and moral evil is that, for the latter, the subject committing the sin and the subject suffering the consequences are in intersubjective relation.

Since humans habitually recognize the natural evil as an example of moral evil, I must conclude that the latter is innate.

In other words, in the Lebenswelt that we evolved in, recognition of moral evil (with culprits and victims) conferred adaptive advantage, while recognition of natural evil was not under equivalent selection pressures.

Perhaps, some evolutionarily ancient recognition of natural evil served as the foundation for our innate recognition of moral evil.

Or, perhaps, in all mammals, natural evil is personalized, making our recognition of natural evil the psychological feature that needs to be explained.]


Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 1.6G1

Summary of text [comment] page 42

Development is key to understanding the difference between moral and natural evil.  Sin always entails a certain amount of immaturity, “a failure to grow”.

In addition, humans needs conversion.

These features of moral evil; immaturity and “need for conversion” are not features of natural evil.

[How to formulate this in terms of moral evilmetaphysical and moral evilphysical?

Immaturity might apply to the firstness of moral evilphysical.

Moral evilphysical2(1):  __3( human acts create situation2( moral evil proceeds –- from the – immature – person1 …)

___3( actus hominis2( passio hominem1)

“The need for conversion” might apply to the thirdness of moral evilmetaphysical.

Moral evilmetaphysical3(2): … determines “subject1” as a person3 – in need of conversion – & determines status of subject(3)( limitations under the situation2 ( __1 )

malum hominis3( actus et potenia hominis2( ___1 )

I conclude that immaturity and the need for conversion go together in the same fashion as metaphysical and physical evil.

I would label these features of the nested form “intentionality”.  Both immaturity and the need to conversion pertain to intentionality, one as firstness and the other as thirdness.]