STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
One of the important and most discussed problems in metaphysics and contemporary philosophy of religion is the philosophical problem of evil. The problem of evil has generated a lot of controversies and debates from scholar (philosophers, religionists, theologians, moralists, psychologists, etc.). One clear point amidst these discussions on philosophical problem of evil is that the latter has neither been written nor heard. It remains an open ended issue for philosophical consideration. As a matter of fact, various solutions have been propounded by philosophers towards the resolution of the problem. The philosophical problem of evil has posed a great challenge to the claims of theism. Theists hold that God created the heavens and the earth. God is, therefore, responsible for at least some of the good and evil in the cosmos of contingent things. Theists cannot avoid grappling with the problem of evil. How could a perfectly good being create a cosmos containing less good than the very best he could have created? And if a being worthy of worship could create the best cosmos he could, is a theist committed to holding that this is the best of all possible worlds.
The meaning of evil is certainly a question where at the most, we can hope for a glimpse of truth, not a finished and fully established understanding. It is true that evil is relative to good. It follows necessarily that to think of virtue is to presuppose a vice as its counterpart, and the two ideas imply one another. It is said that if good develops within the system of culture, so does evil.1
In effort to respond to the challenge, several attempts (theodicies) have been put forward by theists among others to explain the philosophical problem of evil in an attempt to make God retain his omnipotence and omni benevolence attributes. Some of these responses are: The Augustinian response which hinges upon the concept of the fall of man from an original state of righteousness; the Ireanian response hinging upon the idea of the gradual creation of a perfected humanity through life of a highly imperfect world and the response of modern process theology, hinging, upon the idea of God who is not all powerful and not in fact able to prevent the evil arising either in human beings or in the process of nature.2
This pose the question of whether evil exist and theist claim; are human being the causes of evil; Is it true that evil can be averted or combated; Do Western and African (Yoruba) world have the same thought on evil.
The essay shall attempt to explain as lucidly as possible explain the philosophical issue of evil, what meaning the Yoruba tradition have for evil. It will also be part of this explanatory task to review the similarities between the perception of western view on evil and the traditional Yoruba view. This is deemed necessary because, it will enable us to have a better understanding of the possible steps employed in Yoruba in the combat of evils (especially moral and natural evils). A further attempt would be made to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the efforts made towards fostering a society that is less evils.
Another concern in this long essay is not to examine all the various solutions that have been postulated by theists and others in order to resolve the philosophical problem of evil. It is a fact that some of the solutions postulated to resolve the puzzle entailed in the philosophical problem of evil have failed in proffering a philosophical solution to the problem. Take a cognizance look at the birth of man, could it be cause of evil in the society?
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
The purpose of this long essay is to take a philosophical look at evil in Western and Yoruba traditional thought systems. To compare the Western and traditional Yoruba view on evil and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the efforts made towards fostering a society that is more peaceful.
The philosophical method or tools to be used in this research will be conceptual clarification, analysis of issues, critical evaluation and appraisal of ideas and comparison of view of different scholars on evil.
The thesis of this work is that the traditional Yoruba thought system provides a more plausible theodicy than the one provided by the Western thought system.
SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
The discussion in this long essay shall be restricted to the traditional African views on evil.
SOURCE OF MATERIALS
This long essay shall source for materials needed through secondary source, that is, relevant textbook, journals of philosophy of different kinds, magazines on comparative analysis of evil within Western and Yoruba thought system. Most of the materials needed to carry out the research work shall be sought from the Olabisi Onabanjo University main library.