In the aftermath of September 11, the word evil has reappeared in public discourse, but often without a clear understanding of what the word means. There are at least three ways of understanding evil, which is the most intractable mystery of the universe.
Historically, perhaps the earliest of these is dualism. The universe is divided into two kingdoms, one of good, the other of evil, which are perpetually at war with one another. Each is ruled by some kind of divinity, and the end of history will be the final separation of the two, when they will cease to have any relation to each other.
A second theory holds evil to be an illusion. Thus, the pain of physical suffering, of personal loss, of the frustration of one’s desires, all evaporate if one cultivates the appropriate spirit of . . .
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