Is Evil Illusory? Response to Eastern Thought

Is evil or suffering illusory? Well it’s hard to see how, even though there are some people of eastern thought who find such a saying true and persuasive. It certainly seems implausible that suffering illusory or not real.

It certainly seems like we experience pain almost all the time. How could we be mistaken that it seems that we are in pain? If somebody says, “It seems to me that I’m in pain right now” or “It seems that my tooth is aching”, they are forming proposition that are incapable of being wrong. These propositions are known as incorrigible propositions. Furthermore, it seems rational for someone to go with their immediate seemings until they are given argument to think their seemings are mistaken. Have we been given good argument to think that all our experiences of pain are illusory? I have yet to see an argument. It could be true, for all we know, but one could argue that it is actually impossible for suffering to be illusory.

One could argue that it is impossible for suffering to be illusory because such a notion is self-defeating/self-refuting. If we think about illusions, we say that it is better to not be fooled and we say that it is better to see reality. Illusions may very well be a form of suffering or we can say that illusions are a form of deception. Deception is an evil and an evil that causes suffering. Thus, illusions of suffering are themselves a suffering and an instantiation of evil, at least sometimes.

Not to mention, it seems very odd that some people of Eastern Philosophy use such reasoning when they then sometimes go on to further claim that, “Suffering and evils that one goes through are the result of one’s past lives.” If that’s true, what’s the need to invoke the hypothesis the, “evil is an illusion”? Or vice versa for that matter.

I don’t think a sincere seeker of truth will deny that pain and suffering exist. If they deny pain and suffering, should they also deny all the goodness and happiness in the world? Should they also deny the reality of the external world? Should they deny existence itself? The burden of proof does not lie on the person who rejects the claim that suffering is illusory. No. The burden of proof is on the one who makes the claim, and so far the burden has not been met. In fact, the proponent of the claim, “suffering is illusory or not real,” seems to have failed spectacularly in giving us a good argument to think the claim is true. Until presented with such an argument, we are rational to hold to our seemings that pain is real and not illusory. And notice, an ordinary argument will not suffice. The argument must be so good that the soundness of the argument is more obvious than the reality of pain and suffering. Also, the person who claims that ,”suffering is illusory,” must also explain why it nevertheless  seems to us that pain and suffering are real if they aren’t real!


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