Bismillah Ar-Rahman Ar-Raheem
Surah 20 Ayah 49 : [Pharaoh] said, "So who is the Lord of you two, O Moses?"
Surah 20 Ayah 50 : He said, "Our Lord is He who gave each thing its form and then guided [it]."
As many of you know, I love to read. I was recently reading the Enneads by Plotinus and decided to supplement the reading with some YouTube videos that could clarify for me Plotinus' idea of Evil and how it pertains to a term that he calls Matter. What I gleaned from the reading and video is that Plotinus' school views Matter, in a different way from how science (today) views matter.
Here is a brilliant 14 to 15 minute summary of Plotinus' and his ideas and what he thought about "Evil".
For Plotinus, matter represents the complete lack of a definition, limitation or measure. He even goes on to state that he believes that the Intelligible Existent of the term Matter, is a higher existent, than when pure Matter degenerates into this material existence.
We have to remember that Plotinus is a Neo-Platonist, and they believe that the higher realm of forms is more real than when these forms degenerate into our plane of material existence.
Plotinus states that the Intelligible Existent phase of matter degenerates into an image here in our world (from a higher realm) and when this occurs, it reaches the lowest point of degeneration. Pure matter to Plotinus is complete and utter illimitability and indefiniteness.
Plotinus also goes on to state that Matter can also be defined as pure potential that has still not been shaped or formed. Matter in it's purest definition or "form" (and here I am forced to use the term as the only way to anchor it to coherent thought) is that which is without form or measure, complete and utter chaos, having no discernible patterns, no limits, no functions, no attributes, etcetera. In other words a contradiction. For how can something's pure definition or form, be that which is without definition or form?
Furthermore in defining matter, Plotinus views it as the furthest thing that one could get from his idea of the ONE (God). To Plotinus, the ONE (God) is that which bestows form upon all things. The One (God) endowed all existing things with forms, functions, patterns, beauty, intellect, and all other attributes.
From this rationalization and logical argument, Plotinus ends up assigning to pure Matter (or unactualized potentiality) the designation of evil. His argument follows like this:
Since The One (God) is that which gives everything it's form and definition, then that which is the furthest from the One (God), is that which is utterly without form or definition.
And since, he proves rationally that something without form or definition cannot even be an existing thing, because this would be a CONTRADICTION (since there is absolutely nothing that can exist without form or definition) it follows that pure EVIL (that which is utterly without form or definition) is an impossibility.
The following video explains that the term "information" actually contains the idea of giving form in the word itself "in-formation".
When I realized that Plotinus (Which is a Greek philosopher from the 3rd century) reached the logical and rational conclusion that the One (God) is that which gives everything it's FORM, it reminded me of Musa's A.S. (Moses) answer to Pharaoh (Firawn) in the Quran.
When Pharaoh asks Musa A.S. "So who is the Lord of you two, O Moses?" and Musa A.S. (Moses) replies "Our Lord is He who gave each thing its form and then guided [it]."
It really blew my mind, that a man could reach the same conclusion that a Prophet received through revelation, just by using the rational and logical faculties of his mind.
Some curious additions to Plotinus' equating matter with evil is that he also taught that evil is to be looked at as a lack of something. That all things other than the One are inherently flawed with some sort of evil or lack in potentiality, being that there can only be the One perfect, absolute good, God.
So to sum it up, all existing things fall short of God in some way, and that which falls the shortest of God is this concept of pure matter, or evil, which is a complete lack of definition, measure and form. However, also remember that pure matter and pure evil are contradictions and can not actually exist except as truly unnamable, undefined, illimitable concepts.
And further remember, that even in naming this utter lack of definition and form a "concept", we are encountering a contradiction, which is why Plotinus eventually goes on to state that PURE EVIL cannot even exist, in any way at all, even in the mind. For it has no image, no form, no definition, and "exists" only as the antithesis (relative) to God. Even though, this pure matter or pure EVIL cannot exist in any way (even as a thought), I find myself attempting to envision it. In this attempt to envision it, I realize that it doesn't exist and find that everything in existence has Good, and that the different levels of what we believe to be evil are only different gradations in these varying negative measures of the lack of Good.
Since all things stem from the Good (God) everything is inherently imbued with Good. The difference between things lies in varying gradations of a lack of what is Good. Everything is imperfect and lacking except God.
An interesting aside into an incident that occurred while Plotinus was still alive:
Plotinus would not allow his students to paint a picture of him. His answer as to why this was so, is that his physical body is already a degenerated image of his Real Self, so why would they want to make an image of an image i.e. a further degenerated form?
Copyright 2020 by Jimmy Eleazar Vargas de Sanchez. All rights reserved.