The ideas proposed by Thomas Aquinas on evil argue that evil is not a nature. This was derived from the idea that evil cannot be an agent of anything. This is because something can only act to the level which it exists and is perfect. From this, it is argued that evil is a privation of perfection and due being. The good have a willingness to produce and save beings while evil is determined to corrupt and to destroy them. This argument shows that only the good can cause the existence of things and evil is not a cause of any existing thing. This implies that evil does not exist since the virtuous only produce something good. The concept of evil being the privation of good can be understood using the division of things into potency and act presented by Aquinas. Act is assumed to be a good because a thing is perfect to the degree that it is perfect in act (Cook 27). Potency of beings is also a good because it tends towards act. Potency is proportionate to acting and is not contrary to it as evil is. Aquinas’ argument posits that evil belongs to any class or group only accidentally.
Aquinas view of good and beings shows that all beings both actual and potential are virtuous, which means since evil is opposed to the good cannot be an actual or a potential being. Aquinas also argues that whatever possesses essence has a form. Form has the character of being good because it is the principle of the act, which is the reason or origin of act. The end that a being is tending towards or aiming to achieve has to share in the same goodness as the action that the being uses to achieve that end or goal. This means everything that has form is good and cannot be evil (Cook 28). Aquinas’ arguments conclude that evil is not a thing, a form or a nature but the absence of good.
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In Aquinas’ system of thought, evil is an absence of being and an individual is said to be evil to the degree that he or she is not good or does not exist. The absence of good and being referred by Aquinas is explained to be different from negation of goodness or being. The absence considered in this case is the defect of good, which all beings are born to have and should have in their being. Privation implies imperfection, which is the lack of something that a being ought to have. Aquinas argues that evil resides in beings in potency; there are three prerequisites that correspond to the modes of goodness in finite beings, which are substantial, potential, and accidental. Potency focuses on the potential for a being to have good or evil. Aquinas uses the argument to support the notion that evil is not something that exists which is evil in essence.
This concept remains relevant in current thinking about evil. This is because it argues that evil is not a substance, and it follows that evil does not have a formal cause because only things that have substance can have a form. Evil is assumed to have no final cause because only substances, which move towards perfection, fruition, or increase of order, have a final cause. Current thinking about evil is geared towards the thinking that evil is driven towards the destruction of good or being. The material cause of evil is essentially a potent substance that lacks in goodness or being. This follows in the argument that evil results from defective good, which is widely viewed as true today.