Filipino Mind on the Concept of Evil
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Filipino Mind on the Concept of Evil

Incongruities are disturbing to the human psyche. And so we desire for the integration within us & within the society. The Social Science was born as a consequence of this desire or aspiration. The primary obligation of the Social Science therefore is not limited within the accumulation of knowledge. The task at hand is to reconcile the existing paradigms towards the zenith of the noosphere, the universal truth which is the highest good. . For one, the concept of evil, a transdisciplinary topic which significantly falls within the psycho-linguistic-philosophical arena of the Social Science should be most importantly addressed by this concern since, just like the problem of God & life’s meaning, it accumulates very human & vital questions which have been longing to be answered since human history. Finding the truth about this may give light to human sufferings, pain & hope.

            The meanings of words are highly context-based & culturally relative. Due to this nature consequently, conceptual contradictions are inevitable. In the idea of evil as such, there are variances which may disagree with each other. Across Mercado’s four clusters of the various paradigms of evil, namely; a) dualistic, b) perversity of the will, c) illusion and as d) integral to evolution, run two opposing views. The first considers evil as personified in the form of a god or gods (originator/s of evil) & thus, external to humans. The second believes evil to be a metaphysical essence incorporated within human realities, therefore, necessary for the internal being. Which then is truth? Would it matter if we will be able to bring together these views & find a sure foot for a universal paradigm? I believe so.

            More to this, one culture may view an act evil while the outsider as such may negate it. Homosexuality may be deemed as good as it provides happiness, as long as to the one concerned, it does not violate human rights. Devoted Christianity condemns that preference as evil as it violates the Bible. For some, abortion is pro-choice as it respects the individual’s free will. Catholicism, with reference to the Bible, upholds pro-life & views abortion as killing, thus, an evil act.

            Again, would it matter if there is discord within the noosphere of evil?

            Humans seem to be preoccupied with egocentrism, with an oversight of the disintegration, fighting & debating to the extent of chaos. Wars and terrorism are manifestations. Sentiments & principles are summarized as: “I believe this to be the truth & the “should” and so I am going to fight for this, even with blood, till death do us part.” Discord itself is evil. Reconciliation is good.

            It is high time for the Social Science to evolve into becoming the integrator, the reconciling factor of the nuances within the human realm.  I believe this to be the becoming of the discipline, my anticipation of what it would be in the near future.

            One of the steps toward integration is particularization in the form of indigenization. It is fortunate that Mercado did a study on the Filipino indigenous model of evil. With the help of language & proverbs and myths, his data analysis inclined more on the evolutionary paradigm. That is, Filipinos collectively consider the evil (sama or bad, sala or fault, didigra or natural disasters & asing which points to the existence of demonic spirits) as integral to development or purification (Mercado). It is necessary to test the purity of the goodness of the individual desiring rewards or happiness. Furthermore, Filipino model shows dualism, the myths of Mangilala & Magbabaya and the Banting describe the co-existence of good & evil which are in a continuous dialogue.

            The above theses however, are the more general summaries of the Filipino collective psyche. As we know, summarization is a delicate endeavor because of the danger of losing some of the significant details & the tendency of the attribution error wherein one concept or trait is being attributed to one group recklessly. Also, the dynamic realities of the human realm may render the summary inapplicable due to the changing times. Globalization for example may bring about new concepts.

            The evolution of the 21st Century Social Science involves the task of going beyond mere consolidation. It renders particularization as an integrating process. This calls for a more localized & particular paradigm. And that would be the paradigm of the individual; a primary contributing dynamic of the integration. It seems to be a veritable colossal task in front of the discipline. But who knows? It is not for us to judge the future anyway.

            One biblical approach of understanding evil seems to be reconciling and catholic. Passing through the models presented by Mercado, enables one to grope the common grounds. Granted, there are nuances, which however will just remain as nuances; there definitely are concepts which are amazingly & wonderfully identical as if originating from one spring of human consciousness.

            The bible defines evil with reference to Satan the Devil, that being who personifies it. It is an act or thought which opposes the goodness and therefore trying to destroy it. Since goodness personifies God, the Holy Creator, anything or anyone who counters Him is evil (Deuteronomy 32:4). In the same token, Zoroastrianism, Jacob Boehme & the Filipino myth of Mangilala believe the existence of this person who is the originator of evil and opposes the good God. Ahura Mazda and Ahriman of Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism’s two opposing forces, Mangilala & Magbabaya and the figure Mara as the internal enemy of meditation in Buddhism reflect the eternal enmity between God (goodness) and Satan (evil).

            Satan started it when he freely chose to go against the Ultimate Goodness and consequently became His eternal enemy. He went as far as promoting it when he gathered the support of his demons and seduced the first two perfect humans to use their free will against God. Confucius too believed that originally “Man is born with uprightness” referring to perfection as used to be present  in humans. Ricouer referred to this as man’s wrong use of freedom of choice that in due course led to his slavery under evil (Mercado). The disobedience resulted to imperfection called as sin which eventually led to the influx of pain, sufferings, ugliness & death (Genesis 3). Chaudhuri’s summary of Samkhya philosophy mirrors this conclusion; “All our sufferings and miseries are the penalties ….for our original sin of eating from the tree….” (Mercado).

            For the subsequent generations of Adam & Eve, imperfection is manifested in two kinds of sin i.e. inherited which is unintentional and that which is intentional is brought about by the inherited. Because of the imperfection, we are always drawn towards the wrong. The bible points out that we are all inclined to commit sins & therefore prone to suffer the consequences. Suffering in itself is not evil. Rather, it is the fruit of sin due to imperfection. Plato’s concept of nonbeing reflecting imperfection involves the fleshly desires as evil (Mercado). Correspondingly, the Indian philosopher, Sri Aurobindo and the Neo-Confucians hold evil as a manifestation of fleshly desire due to the weakness of matter, which is the human body. Jung and the Confucianist Hsun-Tzu believed the existence of this seed of evil within every human (Mercado). Nonetheless, forgiveness and guidance as well as the promise of a good life are benevolent provisions of God for the deserving ones.

            Evil proliferates because Satan, the pioneer & promoter of evil, & his demons continuously exist & because imperfection is still present among humans today. Human nature, just like water according to neo-Cunfucianist Master Ch’eng Hao is prone to be obscured by external influences. Filipinos and fellows believe in the existence of these more powerful external influences, the demons (Mercado). On why God, who is known to be all-powerful, all-good, eternal enemy of evil allows it to exist until today, the bible comes up with a clear justification. To answer Hume’s questions which reflect human confusions & thirst for wisdom, it presents the truth of the two issues brought about by Satan himself i.e. a) the righteousness & authority of the sovereignty of the Creator were challenged in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:1-5) and b) the integrity of God’s followers was put into question (Job 1: 6-11; 2:1-5; Luke 22:31). In human’s line of thought, it would have been easier and better if God cut off the three rebels as soon as they were proven wicked (evil) in the garden so that evil with its resulting human sufferings could not have reached us today. But God, just & righteous as He is decided to give Satan & the other rebels considerable time to prove and answer the issues involving His right to rule humans as His creations. Implicitly Satan told Adam & Eve that they could decide and live on their own without God’s guidance. Across history, humans tried to rule themselves with different kinds of governance or government. Still, the most significant problems i.e. death, sickness, sufferings, discord & life’s meaning are still unresolved. Furthermore, he strikes humans with sufferings in order for us to believe that it is God who tortures us thus weakening our loyalty. He accused humans of serving God only in good times but will forsake Him when the bad times come. God chose not to intervene especially when Evil operates because doing so would give Satan another opening to accuse Him of bribery. Issues like these need time and opportunity for the accuser to prove his theory. Considering also the presence of a great crowd of intelligent spiritual beings who witnessed the encounter, killing the rebels instantly could have solved nothing substantial.

            Understandably, humans are involved in the issues. The evolutionary paradigm resembles this notion as it posits trials & sufferings as necessary to test the integrity and purity and enables humans to attain the realization that evil though more powerful could be surmounted with God’s sovereignty and approval.

            This is a biblical paradigm internalized by one particular Filipino mind of the 21st century. And it is dynamic. The bible therefore contains a reservoir of universal knowledge, a new methodology and data source of the Social Science.   This could greatly help in the integration process.

References:      Mercado, Leonardo N. The Filipino Mind. The Philipine Philosophical Studies. c1994                             New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. Watchtower Bible & Tract Society. c1984

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Comments (2)

Comprehensive and deep. NIce work!