The Poetics of Evil: Toward an Aesthetic Theodicy

The Poetics of Evil: Toward an Aesthetic Theodicy

by Philip Tallon


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What role does art play in unravelling the theological problem of evil? What can aesthetics show us about God's goodness in a world of iniquity? Philip Tallon constructs an aesthetic theodicy through a fascinating examination of Christian aesthetics, ranging from the writings of Augustine to contemporary philosophy.

Tallon offers a new framework for theodicy that allows the substantial inclusion of aesthetics, building on the work of Eleonore Stump. He then examines the concept of cosmic harmony, the predominant aesthetic motif within medieval theodicy, and shows how Augustine develops this theme by interweaving his metaphysical, moral, and aesthetic views of reality. Tallon then examines other aesthetic themes within theodicy, with special attention to tragedy, a motif that has become increasingly integrated into theodicy in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He shows where tragedy falls short as a sufficient theme for theodicy, but also demonstrates how it complements Augustine's theme of cosmic harmony.

Finally, Tallon considers the horror of evil, an aesthetic theme that has often been used as an attack on the existence of God, but which has recently been used to understand how theodicy should be formulated to respond to the worst evils. By digging more deeply into the darker side of aesthetics, The Poetics of Evil offers a deeper perception of tragedy and malevolence, but also a richer understanding of the Christian response to the problem of evil.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199778935
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date: 11/18/2011
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Philip Tallon is an Affiliate Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Asbury Theological Seminary.

Table of Contents


Part I: The Foundations of Aesthetic Theodicy
Chapter 1: Aesthetics and the Scope of Theodicy
Chapter 2: Aesthetics and Theological Insight

Part II: Toward an Aesthetic Theodicy
Chapter 3: Fearful Symmetry: Theodicy and Cosmic Harmony
Chapter 4: Poetic Injustice: Theodicy and Tragic Vision
Chapter 5: The Monsters and the Critics: Theodicy and Horrendous Evils


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