Horrific Beauty

Sullivan, Madeleine
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The world is full of really horrible evils. Horrific human suffering, meaningless animal deaths, and natural systems based on destruction work together to threaten our sense of meaning in the world as well as our ability to reasonably call the world good or perhaps even to give the world any positive evaluation. This inability to reasonably claim that the world is, on the whole, good forms the basis for the philosophical discussion of the problem of evil: if the world cannot be positively evaluated how can we affirm the existence of God and especially of God as the all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-good and loving creator of the world. While this conversation has often been concerned with positive moral evaluation, the question of whether we can evaluate the world as aesthetically positive is rarely addressed. In this thesis I will argue that, while we may not be able to call our horror-laden world beautiful (by modern usage of the term) we can call it sublime. By expanding our discussion to include this concept, we can more appropriately address the condition of the world while maintaining positive value.

Philosophy, Problem of Evil, Aesthetics