|Plotinus On Evil
||[Jun. 11th, 2016|11:09 am]
Plotinus- who I'm taking in small doses- says matter is evil- and I've been thinking about it (and Stanislav Grof has been assisting me.)|
The way I gloss it is this: if you're a spirit you don't encounter resistance; you can fly about, pass through walls; you don't age, you don't get ill, you can't hurt or be hurt; none of the things we call "evil" exist for you. But if you descend into matter you meet resistance on every side, your body is vulnerable and needs feeding, resouces are limited and you're having to compete to get them. Another way of putting it is that evil arises out of difficulty.
No difficulty, no evil. But no adventure either, no cut and thrust, no extreme emotions, no excitement. Life on earth comes with evil- so-called- built in. Without evil life would be like the perpetually sunny, white picket fence existence Jim Carey endures in The Truman Show- and who wants that?
Matter is fallible, isn't it as simple as that? We're not perfect, and even when we try to be good, every now and then we stray from righteousness. That's why we have developed the capability of forgiveness, isn't it?
That's true. But the nature of matter means that one is often faced with a choice of evils. For instance we have to eat- but we can't do that without destroying things. I choose not to eat meat- because I jib at killing animals but I eat plants which are also living beings and probably sentient.
Even the sternest moralist is unable to live in matter without doing "evil". Why, I can't even walk across the lawn without destroying insect and plant life.
And I eat meat - but try to stick to "good" meat where the animals haven't been mistreated. (So basically I eat meat once or twice a week, because animal welfare doesn't come cheap.) And yet they are, of course, killed for me to eat them.
But then; living with a cat means there's no way of ignoring nature. He has killed on average one vole per day he has lived with me - that I know of. I have come to love what I call "no-mouse mornings" where I don't get a vole served up for breakfast. It's what he does, and does that make him "evil"? Of course not. (But then, he doesn't breed voles in captivity under horrendous conditions.)
Cats do what they have to do. Nature, as Tennyson wrote, is "red in tooth and claw". We can't opt out of the awfulness but we can, I think, do our best to limit the destruction we cause.
Agreed. I do believe my body needs - or at least enjoys - meat, but it certainly doesn't need it all the time. I'll never go vegetarian, but I feel quite good about limiting my meat intake, not just for the sake of animals but also because it's just not an environmentally effective way to feed people.
(The cat, though, is exempt from all these considerations. Forcing a natural carnivore to go vegetarian just seems cruel. My only battle is that he's not allowed to eat voles inside the house...)
I'm not particularly fond of meat- and don't suffer for cutting it out of my diet. I do eat fish, though- which I acknowledge as an inconsistency.
The problem with cats is there are just too many of them- and they kill enormous numbers of small creatures. By taking them to our hearts we're upsetting the balance of nature.
Fortunately my little fellow was castrated before he jumped in my car, so at least it stops with him. (Otherwise I would have paid to have him neutered; you just can't let a cat run around if it's not fixed... Also, it allows him to sing all the high notes when we're doing duets.)
Our cat is neutered too. Not that there are any females round here for him to mate with.