In this article I discuss the concept of evil. I begin by showing that the concept of evil is not religiously neutral. Here, I will discuss the Western view of evil, influenced by Judaism and Christianity. Subsequently, I discuss Leibniz’s classic distinction between three forms of evil - metaphysical, physical and moral - and introduce the categories of natural and non-moral evil. Next, I show that one and the same event may be good in one respect and evil in another. Thus, the passion of Christ is a physical evil when we look at the suffering undergone, a moral evil when we look at the act of those who inflict it on Him, and a moral good when we look at the act of Christ: He gives His life for His friends. This I call the ambiguity of evil. Finally, I discuss two views on the origin of evil: dualism and the view of evil as a privation of a good that should be there, and argue in favour of the second.
This article situates Auden’s poem Musée des Beaux Arts in the process of his conversion to Christianity. The author argues for the layered intertextuality of the poem, in which allusions to Bruegel’s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, The Census at Jerusalem, and The Massacre of the Innocents can be recognised. Moreover, Philippe de Champaigne’s Presentation in the Temple and Peter Paul Rubens’s The Martyrdom of St Livinus (in the same museum in Brussels) seem also to have influenced the poem. Finally, there is reason to suppose that John Singer Sargent’s Crashed Aeroplane influenced Auden. In an analysis of the structure of the poem, the author argues that there is a clear structure hidden under the surface of day-to-day language. He connects this hidden structure with Auden’s poem The Hidden Law, and suggests that Auden wished to claim that even though we cannot understand suffering, it has a hidden meaning known only to God. This hidden meaning connects our suffering with the self-emptying of Christ, a connection which the author demonstrates is in fact also made in Musée des Beaux Arts.