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The Origin of Evil - A Philosophical Exploration

The concept of evil has been a constant dilemma in the history of philosophy

By Ricardo de Moura PereiraPublished 6 months ago 3 min read
The Origin of Evil - A Philosophical Exploration
Photo by Максим Власенко on Unsplash

For many, religion plays an essential role in defining the origin of evil. In religious traditions, evil is generally associated with rebellion against God or the influence of evil forces. Dualism, present in religions such as Zoroastrianism and Gnosticism, suggests the presence of two opposing forces, one good and the other evil, vying for control of the universe. In Christianity, the concept of original sin associates the origin of evil with Adam and Eve's disobedience in the Garden of Eden, throwing humanity into a state of sin and separation from God.The notion of evil has been a constant challenge in the history of philosophy, questioning thinkers and academics throughout the ages. The search for the origin of evil is a complex journey that involves a wide range of approaches and theories, from religious approaches to psychological and philosophical analysis. In this article, we will explore some of the main views on the origin of evil and their implicatons for our understanding of human nature and morality.

However, the religious view is not the only perspective on the origin of evil. Philosophers such as Socrates and Plato argued that evil is the result of ignorance and a lack of knowledge about what is truly good. For them, people do evil when they don't know what is right, and the search for knowledge is essential for virtue.

Another philosophical approach to the origin of evil is the theory of egoism, which suggests that evil actions are motivated by self-interest. British philosopher Thomas Hobbes, for example, argued that human beings are inherently selfish and that evil arises from competition and conflict over scarce resources.

The Complexity of the Issue

In addition to religious and philosophical perspectives, psychology also offers valuable insights into the origin of evil. Sigmund Freud, for example, explored the nature of human instinct and the presence of the "death instinct" in all of us, which can manifest itself in destructive behavior. He argued that society imposes restrictions on human behavior, but these destructive impulses are still present in our psyche.

Evolution has also played a role in the discussion about the origin of evil. Some theories suggest that certain behaviors that we now consider "evil" may have been advantageous for the survival of our ancestors. For example, aggression may have been useful in situations of competition for scarce resources. Ultimately, the question of the origin of evil is complex and multifaceted. It leads us to explore the depths of human psychology, evolution, morality and religion. There is no definitive answer to this question, and different perspectives offer different insights into the subject. The study of evil is an ongoing quest to understand human nature and the forces that shape our actions. As we continue to explore this question, we can expect new ideas and theories to emerge, enriching our understanding of evil and its origins. Many religions explain the origin of evil in terms of a supernatural force or entity. Christianity, for example, describes the fall of Lucifer as the origin of evil, while Judaism refers to Adam and Eve's disobedience in the Garden of Eden. These traditions argue that evil is a consequence of human free will and the choice to disobey God.

On the other hand, the dualism present in Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism postulates the existence of opposing forces of good and evil. These religions argue that evil is inherent in the universe and that the conflict between these forces is a fundamental part of existence.

From a philosophical point of view, various theories have been proposed to explain the origin of evil. The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, for example, argued that evil arises from the will to power and the struggle for dominance between human beings. He suggested that traditional morality was a form of social control that repressed human nature.

Another approach is the theory of evil as a privation of good. Philosophers such as St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas argued that evil does not have an independent existence, but is the absence or corruption of good. This perspective is often associated with theological thinking and the idea that God is the ultimate source of good.


The question of the origin of evil is complex and multifaceted, involving not only religious, but also philosophical and ethical considerations. The perspective one adopts on the origin of evil can have profound implications for one's worldview and understanding of human nature.

Regardless of the approach one chooses, evil remains an undeniable reality in our lives, and dealing with it is a constant challenge. Exploring the origin of evil is a valuable intellectual exercise that allows us to reflect on fundamental questions of existence and morality.

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About the Creator

Ricardo de Moura Pereira

I love to read writing and watch many documentaries in history, to have more knowledge in all science.

I work with digital marketing, and create articles for newspapers and marketing content.

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