The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 7, 2007

Philosophy of Culture(s)

Franklin Perkins
Pages 149-155

The Problem of Evil in Classical Chinese Philosophy

If the problem of evil is one of justifying how a perfect God could create evil, then there is no problem of evil in early Chinese thought, but my claim in this paper is that the problem of evil is one manifestation of a deeper problem, which is the conflict between the world and human values and desires. This deeper problem appears in early Chinese thought in ways analogous to the problem of evil in theistic traditions. Daoists respond to this problem with a call to harmonize with heaven by overcoming conventional values and desires. Mencius, a Confucian, offers a more complex response, in which it is natural to cultivate virtue and certain desires even though nature itself is indifferent to them. My paper focuses on this Confucian response.