What is Evil?
Evil is the lack (or privation) of a good that should be present in a thing. For example, blindness is a physical evil because it is the absence of the ability to see, which is proper to a human being. In moral terms, sin is the absence of a particular virtue in a person. As such, evil is not something that exists in itself; it is merely the absence of the good (see Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraphs 309, 314).
This classical definition, formulated by St. Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century, was the result of centuries of thought and the refinement of complex formulas into this simple, objective explanation.
Editor’s Note: To learn more about spiritual warfare and demonology, Catholic Spiritual Direction recommends Fr. Fortea’s excellent book Interview With An Exorcist – An Insider’s Look at the Devil, Demonic Possession, and the Path to Deliverance.
Father José Antonio Fortea Cucurull is a priest, exorcist, and writer from Spain. He has published many books, some of which have been translated from Spanish into English, and has spoken at various venues in the United States. His most famous title is the Summa Daemoniaca, currently available only in Spanish. His book Exorcistica is a supplemental publication of Summa Daemoniaca.
To see many other posts on spiritual warfare and demonology, please click on the following link to see all our posts in this series: Spiritual Warfare and Demonology Posts (and Their Links) on SpiritualDirection.com
Art for this post on what is evil: Thomas von Aquin [The formulator of the definition of evil: Thomas Aquinas], Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510), unknown date, PD-US published in the U.S. prior to January 1, 1923, author’s life plus 100 years or less; detail of Padre José Antonio Fortea 2017, photographed by Elgatoconbotaselgatoconbotas, 5 May 2017 own work, CCA-SA 4.0 International; both Wikimedia Commons. Cover of “Interview with an Exorcist” used with permission, all rights reserved.