Taking another step through history, we learn from Seneca and the Stoics that everyone is the hero in their own story. We all believe we are on the right side of history and act in a way that will bring about the most optimal solution, in accordance with our rationalized values. What we see as evil is only ignorance.

The simplified logic for a stoic conception of evil is as follows:

  • Only reasoned choices can be moral
  • We choose the actions we believe are best for us in each moment
  • 'Evil' choices are never the true best choices
  • Therefore, anyone who commits wrongdoing was simply ignorant of a better way.

Epictetus clarifies this in chapter 42 of the Enchiridion:

โ€œWhen any person harms you or speaks badly of you, remember that he acts or speaks from a supposition of its being his duty. Now, it is not possible that he should follow what appears right to you, but what appears so to himself. Therefore, if he judges from a wrong appearance, he is the person hurt, since he too is the person deceived.

This post is for subscribers only

Sign up now to read the post and get access to the full library of posts for subscribers only.

Sign up now Already have an account? Sign in