previous next

Those who do not believe that the world was created for God and mankind, or that human affairs are ruled by Providence, think that they are using a strong argument when they say: “If there were a Providence, there would be no evils.” For they declare that nothing is less consistent with Providence than the existence of such a quantity of troubles and evils in a world which He is said to have made for the sake of man. Chrysippus, arguing against such views in the fourth book of his treatise On Providence 1 says: “There is absolutely nothing more foolish than those men who think that good could exist, if there were at the same time no evil. For since good is the opposite of evil, it necessarily follows that both must exist in opposition to each other, supported as it were by mutual adverse forces; since as a matter of fact no opposite is conceivable without something to oppose it. For how could there be an idea of justice if there were no acts of injustice? or what else is justice than the absence of injustice? How too can courage be understood except by contrast with cowardice? Or temperance except by contrast with intemperance? How also could there be wisdom, if folly did not exist as its opposite? Therefore,” said he, “why do not the [p. 93] fools also wish that there may be truth, but no falsehood? For it is in the same way that good and evil exist, happiness and unhappiness, pain and pleasure. For, as Plato says, 2 they are bound one to the other by their opposing extremes; if you take away one, you will have removed both.”

In the same book 3 Chrysippus also considers and discusses this question, which he thinks worth investigating: whether men's diseases come by nature; that is, whether nature herself, or Providence, if you will, which created this structure of the universe and the human race, also created the diseases, weakness, and bodily infirmities from which mankind suffers. He, however, does not think that it was nature's original intention to make men subject to disease; for that would never have been consistent with nature as the source and mother of all things good. “But,” said he, “when she was creating and bringing forth many great things which were highly suitable and useful, there were also produced at the same time troubles closely connected with those good things that she was creating”; and he declared that these were not due to nature, but to certain inevitable consequences, a process that he himself calls κατὰ παρακολούθησιν. “Exactly as,” he says, “when nature fashioned men's bodies, a higher reason and the actual usefulness of what she was creating demanded that the lead be made of very delicate and small bones. But this greater usefulness of one part was attended with an external disadvantage; namely, that the head was but slightly protected and could be damaged by slight blows and shocks. In the same way diseases too and illness were created at the same time with [p. 95] health. Exactly, by Heaven!” said he, “as vices, through their relationship to the opposite quality, are produced at the same time that virtue is created for mankind by nature's design.”

1 Fr. ii. 1169, Aru.

2 Phaedo, 3, p. 60 B.

3 Fr. ii, 1170, Arn.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Introduction (John C. Rolfe, 1927)
load focus Latin (John C. Rolfe, 1927)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: