Monday, October 28, 2019


An Argument of Epicurus

Epicurus, fragment 374 Usener, preserved in Lactantius, On the Anger of God 13.20–21 (tr. Brad Inwood and Lloyd P. Gerson):
"God," he says, "either wants to eliminate bad things and cannot, or can but does not want to, or neither wishes to nor can, or both wants to and can. If he wants to and cannot, then he is weak—and this does not apply to god. If he can but does not want to, then he is spiteful—which is equally foreign to god's nature. If he neither wants to nor can, he is both weak and spiteful and so not a god. If he wants to and can, which is the only thing fitting for a god, where then do bad things come from? Or why does he not eliminate them?"

deus, inquit, aut uult tollere mala et non potest, aut potest et non uult, aut neque uult neque potest, aut et uult et potest. si uult et non potest, inbecillus est, quod in deum non cadit. si potest et non uult, inuidus, quod aeque alienum est a deo. si neque uult neque potest, et inuidus et inbecillus est. ideo nec deus. si et uult et potest, quod solum deo conuenit, unde ergo sunt mala? aut cur illa non tollit?
See Reinhold Glei, "Et invidus et inbecillus. Das angebliche Epikurfragment bei Laktanz, De ira Dei 13,20-21," Vigiliae Christianae 42.1 (March, 1988) 47-58.

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