Maurice Spandrell and the ‘Problem of Evil’ in "Point Counter Point" (1928) by Aldous Huxley

An analysis

Master's Thesis, 2016

72 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Table of Contents

1. Introduction: The Dialectics of Good and Evil in Point Counter Point

2. Defining Evil
2.1 A Literary History of the ‘Problem of Evil’
2.2 Aldous Huxley’s Definition of Evil

3. Spandrell as the Incarnation of Evilness
3.1 Spandrell as a Perpetrator
3.1.1 Spandrell as a Loner
3.1.2 Spandrell as a Murderer
3.1.3 Spandrell as a Torturer
3.2 Spandrell as a Victim
3.2.1 Contingency as a Precondition for Misanthropy
3.2.2 Ennui, Acedia, and the Fascination of Evil
3.2.3 Spandrell as a Neurotic

4. The Role of God in Point Counter Point..
4.1 Spandrell’s Search of God
4.2 The Significance of Spandrell’s Death
4.3 ‘Accepting the Universe’: God’s ‘Presence’ in the Novel

5. Conclusion: Point Counter Point as a Modern Novel

6. Bibliography

1. Introduction: The Dialectics of Good and Evil in Point Counter Point

At the time of its publication, Cyril Connolly praises Aldous Huxley's profound novel Point Counter Point (1928) with the words: “This, if not Mr. Huxley's best book, is certainly his most important.”1 However, almost all reviewers listed in The Critical Heritage (1975) agree with D. H. Lawrence that Point Counter Point is a merciless and ‘terrible' book: “I do think that art has to reveal the palpitating moment or the state of man as it is. And I think you do that, terribly.”2 Whereas the Nation describes the novel as “a most comprehensive analysis of the contemporary soul”,3 the Saturday Review criticises that “Mr. Huxley's world is a hospital”.4 The dialectics of the novel's reception imitate the dialectics present in the text as well as in the modern society the novel reflects. Maurice Spandrell is a character in the novel who, in a pathological way, is both evildoer and victim,5 illustrating Huxley's search for absolute meaning - “something definite”6 - with the help of “sociological observations”.7

In connection with Huxley's understanding of ‘God', which he lays down mainly in his book The Perennial Philosophy (1945), Huxley's representation of evilness alias Spandrell is going to be analysed in this paper.8 There are other characters in Point Counter Point concerned with the question of God, for example, Marjorie Carling.9 However, the focus will be on Spandrell as the contemplations about good and evil concentrate around his character. Spandrell constantly tries to explain God's absence and make his presence felt but he is disappointed again and again. In this way, he embodies the focal point of the ‘problem of evil' in Point Counter Point. The root of evil, in Spandrell's case, can be found in his ‘individual' psychology. With the help of Spandrell, Huxley reflects on the origin of evil, in particular, on how evilness can develop in a person's life. In the first essay of Do What You Will (1929), Huxley clarifies his position: “To talk about religion except in terms of human psychology is an irrelevance”.10 The ‘inner life' of human beings interested him so much that Huxley works “as a kind of empirical psychologist or anthropologist in his novels [.] of the 1920s”,11 which is brilliantly displayed in the character of Spandrell. Viewed in this light, the figure of the anthropologist in the novel, Mark Rampion, is the voice that utters Huxley's underlying psychological attitude in Point Counter Point: “The root of evil's in the individual psychology; so it's there, in the individual's psychology, that you'd have to begin.”12 Together with Spandrell's fictional biography, Huxley creates a pathetic character in search of a God in order to give him at least a hint of meaning and identity in the light of modern worldviews such as contingency and ennui.

The complexity of Spandrell's character is a good index of Huxley's profound thoughts on the subject of evil in this world: “Fictional and mythical bad guys were born bad, and they do bad things because they like doing them. With actual human beings, however, there are usually different motives and influences.”13 Spandrell is a vice figure who represents a specific idea of a human being with a complex story and confused motivations. In this way, fiction and ‘reality' come very close in Huxley's novel. Huxley has his focus on different types of characters, each of them representing a certain set of ideologies, which is why Point Counter Point must be described as a novel of ideas, strongly connected to the mentality of essayistic writing.14 All along, Huxley presents Point Counter Point as a grand meditation on life.15 As an author, Huxley intended to find an expression of the universal by describing the obvious.16 Philip Quarles, the element of meta-fiction in Point Counter Point, explains that the characters in his novel are simply “mouthpieces”,17 acting just like instruments in a musical piece:

The parts live their separate lives; they touch, their paths cross, they combine for a moment to create a seemingly final and perfected harmony, only to break apart again. Each is always alone and separate and individual. ‘I am I,' asserts the violin; ‘the world revolves round me.' ‘Round me,' calls the cello. ‘Round me,' the flute insists. And all are equally right and equally wrong; and none of them will listen to the others.18

The fragmentation present in modern society is reflected in the many individual threads, characters, and storylines of the novel, explaining the dialectic nature of Point Counter Point. Despite all the questions, however, Huxley's inner conviction told him “that behind all the appearances there is reality, and for him the reality was the unitive knowledge of God.”19 At a closer look, Point Counter Point reveals Huxley's belief in a deeper ‘truth' that remains mysterious in its contingent existence of absence and presence.

2. Defining Evil

2.1 A Literary History of the ‘Problem of Evil’

A common definition of evilness is understanding it as the ‘other' of good, with the personifications of God and the devil also represented as the serpent in the Biblical story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden who are seduced to eat from the tree of knowledge.20 Strangely enough, the serpent appears even though the Garden of Eden is represented as a ‘paradise'. Considering the dialectics of utopia, however, every paradise has its ‘serpent', leading to a second definition of evilness, namely to see good and evil as parts of an antagonistic system, complementing each other like Yin and Yang 2 From a theistic point of view, this could mean that God is a strategist and the devil is his slave so that the ‘serpent' follows a divine order even if it might not know it.21 22 Furthermore, this definition serves as an explanation for the paradoxical fact that good intentions can have an evil outcome and evil intentions can have a good outcome as also Aldous Huxley observes: “[W]e discover that what at first seemed good may, in the long run or in the larger context, be bad; and that what at first seemed bad may be a good which we feel ourselves under obligation to accomplish.”23 Another literary example of the paradoxical nature of intentions in connection with good and evil is Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust (1808), in which Mephistopheles says that he is: “Ein Theil von jener Kraft, // Die stets das Böse will und stets das Gute schafft.“24 The conclusion is not far that one might need the contrast of good and evil to understand in the end that there is actually no contrast,25 as Maurice Spandrell expresses it in Point Counter Point: “[S]ome people can only realize goodness by offending against it.”26 This suggests that humanity needs to encounter evilness in order to know goodness and that ultimately, it is all part of a ‘divine Ground' as Huxley calls it.27 The contemporary German philosopher Rüdiger Safranski phrases this view with the following words:

Das Bewusstsein kann die gegebene Wirklichkeit transzendieren und dabei ein schwindelerregendes Nichts entdecken oder einen Gott, in dem alles zur Ruhe kommt. Und es wird den Verdacht nicht los, daß [sic] dieses Nichts und Gott vielleicht doch ein und dasselbe sind.28

According to this statement, it all amounts to ‘nothingness’; ‘everything’ is ‘nothing’. This implies that evil has no ontological status of its own, which is the gist of Saint Augustine’s definition of evilness according to the principle of de-ontologisation,29 30 described with the term privatio honi.''! Saint Augustine is convinced that evil in itself is unsubstantial just like darkness does not have a physical presence of its own since darkness only appears when sources of light are extinguished:31 “Nothing evil exists in itself, but only as an evil aspect of some actual entity.”32 ‘Abdu’l-Baha, son of the founder of the Baha’i Faith, explains why evil is the nonexistence of good and suggests that evil only occurs as a result of antagonisms related to interests and perspectives:33

The epitome of this discourse is that it is possible that one thing in relation to another may be evil, and at the same time within the limits of its own being it may not be evil. Then it is proved that there is no evil in existence; all that God created He created good. This evil is nothingness; so death is the absence of life. When man no longer receives life, he dies. [.] Wealth is an existing thing, but poverty is nonexisting. Then it is evident that all evils return to nonexistence.34

Yet, this definition of evilness as something defined by non-existence confronts humanity with a ‘problem of evil’ because the outcomes of the ‘absence of good’ are very substantial in this world.35 Especially in connection with suffering, evil’s terrible reality cannot be denied.36 To describe these visible effects of evil, Saint Augustine distinguishes between the malum moralum, denoting the moral evil which can be blamed on the thoughts and actions of human beings, and the malum physicum, a term describing all ‘natural' evil such as diseases, which God uses to punish moral evilness.37 To this distinction, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz adds the malum metaphysicum in order to discern diseases of the body and natural catastrophes.38 At the same time, however, Saint Augustine never dissents from the opinion that all of these different kinds of mali might have to do something with the presence or absence of good. This is precisely the point where the question of God arises in connection with the ‘problem of evil'.

Not without good reason, the ‘problem of evil' is used as a synonym for theodicy.39 In terms of God in the face of evil, Saint Augustine does not labour the point of personal human suffering. Rather, the Augustinian worldview regards: “[t]he universe, including the finite personal life within it, [.] as a complex picture or symphony or organism whose value resides in its totality, and whose perfection is compatible with much suffering and sin in some of the constituent units.”40 With unshakable belief Saint Augustine cherishes the idea of a universe comprised in unity and governed by a God who will always turn evil into good due to his unchanging benevolent character: “For it would not be done without his allowing it - and surely his permission is not unwilling but willing - nor would he who is good allow the evil to be done, unless in his omnipotence he could bring good even out of evil.“41 Thus, Saint Augustine firmly believes that evil could be overcome by goodness.

However, the history of theodicy shows that the questions of how and why evil came into the world are not so easily answered and have been bothering philosophers as well as theologians for a long time, who could not find a satisfactory reply. When proposing the issue of ‘Why is there suffering and evil in this world?', Samuel Johnson remarks that the paradox of evilness has always occupied the minds of the thinkers of humanity:

How evil came into the world; for what reason it is that life is overspread with such boundless varieties of misery; why the only thinking being of this globe is doomed to think merely to be wretched, and to pass his time from youth to age in fearing of in suffering calamities, is a question which philosophers have long asked, and which philosophy could never answer [,..].42

The human brain seems to be incapable of finding an acceptable answer to this problem. The history of theodicy started at least as early as one of the oldest books in the Bible, the book of Job.43 Job can be described as the ‘archetype of theodicy’.44 It is not only God who abandons Job by removing his blessings on his life but also his friends turn away and tell him that a righteous man would not suffer which unveils their strong belief in the principle of Nemesis Divina.45 In the end, God emphasises that the human mind will never understand the world’s system and its divine order, an argument that many philosophers such as Leibnitz or Johnson have urged likewise. Huxley thinks about this issue as well:

It is impossible to justify the ways of God to man in terms of human morality or even of human reason. In the final chapters of the Book of Job God is justified, not by His goodness, not by the reasonableness of what He ordains, but because, as His strange, enigmatic, and often sinister creations attest, He is powerful and dangerous and gloriously inventive beyond all human conception; because He is at once so appalling and so admirable, that we cannot sufficiently love or fear Him; because, in the last resort, He is absolutely incomprehensible. [...] If we accept the universe, we must accept it for purely Jobic reasons - for its divinely appalling and divinely beautiful inhumanity, or, in other words, because, by our standards, it is utterly unacceptable.46

When Job decides to trust God again, he embraces the incomprehensibility of the world's order and is rewarded by receiving even more of what he had had before, revealing the theocentric logic of the Biblical book.47 Huxley goes in line with this way of dealing with the unacceptability of this suffering universe: One cannot do otherwise but accept it.

The Greek philosopher Epicurus summarises the ‘problem of evil' in the following quote passed on by the early Christian author Lactantius:48

God, he [Epicurus] says, either wishes to take away evils, and is unable; or he is able, and is unwilling; or He is neither willing nor able, or He is both willing and able. If he is willing and is unable, He is feeble, which is not in accordance with the character of God; if He is able and unwilling, He is envious, which is equally at variance with God; if He is neither willing nor able, He is both envious and feeble, and therefore not God; if He is both willing and able, which alone is suitable to God, from what source then are evils? Or why does He not remove them?49

Starting from the premise that there is an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent God, theodicy tries to explain evilness in spite of a God. Etymologically, theodicy is derived from Greek ‘theos' meaning God and ‘dike' which is Greek for law.50 Thus, theodicy poses the question: What are the laws of God? Or, as eighteenth-century author Alexander Pope expresses it, how to “vindicate the ways of God to man”51 in the light of suffering and evilness present in the world.

The ‘Age of Enlightenment' is also considered the ‘Age of Theodicy'.52 Since people started to ‘dare to think themselves',53 they had to unify the changing views of the world and the newest scientific knowledge, such as for example the findings of Sir Isaac Newton, with the predominant understanding of God.54 On the British Isles, theodicy started with William King's De origine mali (1702),55 but it was only after eight years later that the philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz coined the term theodicy and made it popular with his Essais de Theodicée sur la bonté de Dieu, la liberté de l’homme et l’origine du mal (1710).56 Leibnitz believes that ‘the best of all possible worlds' is already the one which is presently existing because he cherishes the idea of a benevolent, omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent God who could have created only ‘the best of all possible worlds', since first of all he is able to find out which would be the best one, secondly his goodness will make him choose it, and thirdly his power enables him to create it.57 In order to justify evilness and suffering in this world, he argues with the principle of providence, sub specie aeternitatis,58 implying that humans should not try to understand God's ways because they can never understand the order of the world from their limited perspective, following Job and going in line with Samuel Johnson:

Der Gegenstand Gottes hat etwas Unendliches an sich; seine Sorge erstreckt sich auf das ganze Universum: was wir davon kennen, ist beinah nichts; und da wollen wir seine Weisheit und Güte an unseren Erfahrungen messen? Welche Vermessenheit oder besser, welche Absurdität!59

In Leibnitz's terms, God provided an inner order and a purpose for everything that he created: “Genauso verhält es sich mit der göttlichen Regierung: was wir davon erblicken, ist kein genügend großes Gebiet, um aus ihm schon die Schönheit und Ordnung des Ganzen zu erkennen.”60 This so-called ‘pre-stabilised harmony' of the world is the gist of his ideas.61 62

The idea of Leibnitz's harmony is characteristic for the eighteenth century, summarised in terms of ordo and holism 6,1 The underlying principle of holism is that the world is ‘meaningful' and ‘real' in itself - everything is in harmony and symmetry and has the exact proportions to maintain a balanced ‘whole'.63 This is reflected, for instance, in Francis Bacon's idea of the twofold truth composed of the Bible (liber dei) on the one hand and nature (liber naturae) on the other hand.64 By using empirics and the natural sciences to analyse nature, which had been portrayed as sin by the church at Bacon's time, the world can be read like a book in order to understand God's ways.65 Furthermore, holism places an author as the alter deus who creates literature just like God created nature and the Bible.66 In general, literature is said to be “[...] a universal allegorical system in which abstract issues are rendered concrete and understandable. Literature teaches and delights (prodesse et delectare), it occasionally teaches to delight, or delights in order to teach.”67 Not only can nature and the Bible be treated in the same way in order to instruct humanity, as Bacon suggests. For much of the eighteenth-century authors, it was in fact literature's main task to make the ways of God understandable to man.68 Indeed, eighteenth century literature often mirrors ‘reality' so that not only the content but also the form of a novel can be turned into an argument for the existence of God and his divine order, for instance, by illustrating poetic justice69 Henry Fielding's Tom Jones (1749) is an example of a novel with a holistic form: His novel follows the principles of Palladian architecture and the eighteen books altogether are constructed to establish a harmonious whole.70 In this way, Fielding portrays the world as a product of a divine benevolent intention.71 Translating Leibnitz’s theory into poetry and similarly reflecting the idea of ordo,72 Alexander Pope’s An Essay on Man (1732-1734) sees evil in a divinely established context as Pope agrees with Leibnitz and Saint Augustine that there is only partial evil.73 Due to a greater plan as the foundation for every situation, suffering is always only particularly experienced by individuals: “God sends not ill, if rightly understood, // Or partial Ill is universal Good”.74

However, there are contrary voices in the eighteenth century, for example, Monsieur de Voltaire.75 Even though he had firstly been a follower of Leibnitz, the Lisbon earthquake disillusioned him in such a way that he started to mock Leibnitz’s theories.76 In response to the disaster of 1755, Voltaire’s satire Candide ou l’Optimisme (1759) was published with regard to Leibnitz’s philosophical arguments on theodicy, disillusioning the theory of ‘the best of all possible worlds’.77 Another literary example of a work not going in line with the eighteenth century’s predominant principle of ordo and holism is Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719), in which the loss of faith in God is substituted with a belief in human capability.78 This positive solution of replacing God’s omnipotence with man’s potential is defeated by Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726) published seven years after Robinson Crusoe. Sympathising with Saint Augustine’s view, Swift does not clearly differentiate good and evil from each other in each and every case; instead, both seem to co-exist,79 which is also reflected in the fact that reason in itself seems to be a kind of evil.80 Francis Bacon is a proponent of the idea that man should use his reason for the good of humanity.81 He is aware that the gift of knowledge can shift from something useful to something completely insolent - the homo curiosus is always in danger of turning into a man machine82 In the same way, Jonathan Swift faces the fact that man is able to use his reason in order to be more evil.83 Thus, man is not so much an animal rationale but an animal rationis capax, only capable of reason but not always naturally following reason in order to do morally ‘good' deeds.84 This is closely linked to misanthropy.85 Part of it was that God was held responsible for the immoral nature of man because he created such a being,86 resulting in a denial of God and paving the way for the knowledge or, in Foucault's jargon, epistemes of the centuries to come.87

Swift must be mentioned as an eighteenth century author who was ahead of his time because his works embodied the idea of contingency, which is a concept that became more and more prominent in the nineteenth century, especially in the fin-de- siècle, and which influenced modernism as well as postmodernism. In contrast with holism, contingency means that the world is understood as the result of mere coincidence and that there is nothing with a purpose, involving that the world is characterised by extreme absurdity.88 Rüdiger Safranski explains the concept of contingency on the example of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1899): “Wenn die Wildnis eine Botschaft hat, dann diese: Tu, was du willst, es wird nicht von Bedeutung sein! [...] Das ‘Herz der Finsternis’ ist die Kontingenz. Kontingenz bedeutet: Was es gibt, könnte es genauso gut auch nicht geben, es ist ohne Bedeutung.”89 This ‘meaninglessness’ of contingency is connected to nihilism, signifying that life is without any purpose or instrinsic value. Inside of this worldview, God does not have a place just like Friedrich Nietzsche, fin-de-siècle author, projected in his work The Gay Science (1882): “God is dead! [...] And we have killed him!”90 In Nietzsche’s eyes, the idea of contingency and modern mind-sets denying faith are about to kill God - and his prognosis was right. Arthur Schopenhauer cannot combine the suffering in this world with the benevolence of an omnipotent God and plainly stops trying to find an explanation for this paradox: [.] die traurige Beschaffenheit einer Welt, deren lebende Wesen dadurch bestehn [sic], daß [sic] sie einander auffressen [sic], die hieraus hervorgehende Noth [sic] und Angst alles Lebenden, die Menge und kolossale Größe der Uebel [sic], die Mannigfaltigkeit und Unvermeidlichkeit der oft zum Entsetzlichen anwachsenden Leiden, die Last des Lebens selbst und sein Hineilen zum bittern Tode, [ist] ehrlicherweise nicht damit zu vereinigen, daß [sic] sie das Werk vereinter Allgüte, Allweisheit und Allmacht seyn [sic] sollte.91

New scientific knowledge such as the evolutionary theory by Charles Darwin in the nineteenth century paved the way for considerably increased doubts.92 These ‘traumata’ disrupting the understanding of identity left people without a creator who had given them a defined place in this world as well as a purpose for their lives.93 As a result, life seemed to be meaningless:

To be modern is to find ourselves in an environment that promises us adventure, power, joy, growth, transformation of ourselves and the world - and, at the same time, that threatens to destroy everything we have, everything we know, everything we are.94

With modernism, holistic structures fall apart and an atomisation in connection with experimental traits can be observed in literary writing.95 This fragmentation is clearly visible, for example, in James Joyce's or Virginia Woolf's works who follows an ‘aesthetics of the rainbow', by which she means a coincidental combination of atomic impressions.96 Here, the literary form represents reality so that in modernism, the ‘death of the author' as in Roland Barthes imitates the ‘death of God' in Friedrich Nietzsche just like literature in the eighteenth century had often been a means of proofing the existence of God.97 In postmodernism, God is not even an option most of the times and theodicy has become irrelevant in literature.98 Even though there are contemporary authors and philosophers who are dealing with the problem of evil, they are not the mainstream.99 Aldous Huxley can be described as an author who is on the cusp of postmodernism. His novel Point Counter Point (1928) reflects the epistemological crisis typical of modernism in a brilliant way.100 Yet, despite Huxley's firm belief in mysticism, he reveals an ontological doubt: Is there a final truth at all?101 Spandrell is an example of a modern man, on the search for ‘truth', just like the author himself.102

2.2 Aldous Huxley’s Definition of Evilness

The material that Huxley had available for his contemplations on his search for answers was vast - his life as a polyhistor was characterised by a wide range of profound knowledge.103 As a descendant of the arts scholar Matthew Arnold and the natural scientist T. H. Huxley,104 he unified the realm of philosophy and natural sciences. Thus, Huxley experienced first-hand what it was like to feel the unhappiness resulting from the solitary life of an intellectual,105 docta ignorantia. 106 Huxley describes solitude as part of the human condition in general:

We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone. Embraced, the lovers desperately try to fuse their insulated ecstasies into a single self-transcendence; in vain. By its very nature every embodied spirit is doomed to suffer and enjoy in solitude. Sensations, feelings, insights, fancies - all these are private and, except through symbols and at second hand, incommunicable. We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. [.] The mind is its own place [.]. Words are uttered but fail to enlighten.107

As certain things cannot be explained with words or experienced with the mind, the only resort from this solitary life Huxley sees is mysticism. On his spiritual journey, he is influenced, among many others, by the works of William Blake, who is known for the incoherency of his writings, referring to a world as an appearance veiling a deeper ‘reality’. This is probably why Huxley would rather agree with Mark Rampion, one of his characters of Point Counter Point, that Blake is able to create a harmonious whole despite the incoherency: “Blake was civilized [.]. Civilization is harmony and completeness. Reason, feeling, instinct, the life of the body - Blake managed to include and harmonize everything.”108 A means to encounter this ‘realness’ and ‘harmony’ are drugs, which in connection with mysticism serve as a remedy for elitism, a glimmer of hope to stop missing the forest for the trees. Allowing for admittance to the inner world, they are like ‘medicine’ against solipsism and the estrangement that results from pure intellectualism.

What is more, the taking of drugs is a way of ascertaining the ‘essentiality’ of things as Huxley is convinced: “It is only by making physical experiments that we can discover the intimate nature of matter and its potentialities.”109 Taking mescaline is an experience that Huxley extensively put into writing in The Doors of Perception (1954).110 Under the influence of drugs, he encounters a relativeness of time and space that results in the feeling of belonging to the ‘oneness’ of the world. In one instance, Huxley describes how he perceived himself as part of the chair in front of him. He was ‘nothing’ and ‘all’ at the same time:

I spent several minutes - or was it several centuries? - not merely gazing at those bamboo legs, but actually being them - or rather being myself in them; or, to be still more accurate (for ‘I’ was not involved in the case, nor in a certain sense were ‘they’) being my Not-self in the Not-self which was the chair.111

This ‘unity' is Huxley's final ‘good'. His ‘search for truth' guides him to deal with both the emotional and the intellectual realm of knowledge. An outcome of his contemplative approach in connection with spirituality is his The Perennial Philosophy (1945), an elaborate anthology of texts with comments by Huxley in which he promotes universalistic ideas, always intertwined with mysticism.112 In this comprehensive work, he also specifies his understanding of ‘God' and lays down his answer to the ‘problem of evil'.

In Huxley's eyes, evil is typical of human nature.113 Evil is a part of the universe that has always been there, will always be there, and needs to be there as he states in a chapter called “Good and Evil” of The Perennial Philosophy:

But it must be remembered, of course, that the capacity for supreme good is achieved only at the price of becoming also capable of extreme evil. Animals do not suffer in so many ways, nor, we may feel pretty certain, to the same extent as do men and women. Further, they are quite innocent of that literally diabolic wickedness which, together with sanctity, is one of the distinguishing marks of the human species.114

The ‘capacity for supreme good' and the ‘becoming also capable of extreme evil' are the two opposite sides of ‘free will' which distinguishes the human race from animals and nature.115 The antagonistic forces between these two poles are a central topic of Point Counter Point.116 Huxley argues that creation itself is ‘the Fall' (speaking in the Hebrew tradition) because not only human beings having caused ‘the Fall' must bear misery but also non-human forms of life suffer.117 Similar to the Hindu tradition, Huxley suggests that also ‘subhuman existences' may have a ‘free will' but that they have chosen the wrong aims and thus are punished for it.118 In contrast with human beings, they will never realise the ‘divine Ground', which humans can choose if they want to since the mind will determine the ‘being' and the ‘being' the actions.119 In Island (1962), Huxley notes:

One third, more or less, of all the sorrow that [a] person [...] must endure is unavoidable. It is the sorrow inherent in the human condition, the price we must pay for being sentient and self-conscious organisms, aspirants to liberation, but subject to the laws of nature [...]. The remaining two thirds of all sorrow is home-made, and, as far as the universe is concerned, unnecessary.120

Huxley, here, distinguishes between the evil that has to be accepted and the evil that man chooses on his own behalf. Firstly, one has to embrace the universe as it is:121

In Ian Karamazov's phrase, we must ‘accept the universe' not merely in spite of the frightful and incomprehensible things which go on in it, but actually, to some extent, because of them. We must accept it, among other reasons, because it is, from our human point of view, entirely and divinely unacceptable.122

On his ‘search for truth' within the jungle of paradoxes of philosophy, religion, and experience, Huxley comes to the conclusion that the world's unintelligibility is a mystery which will never be penetrated. Philip Quarles, Huxley's own voice in Point Counter Point,123 summarises the postmodern idea that there is actually no such thing as ‘truth'. The intellectual's search for it, thus, narrows down to merely an ‘amusement':

Till quite recently, I must confess, I took learning and philosophy and science - all the activities that are magniloquently lumped under the title of ‘The Search for Truth' - very seriously. I regarded the Search for Truth as the highest of human tasks and the Searchers as the noblest of men. But in the last year or so I have begun to see that this famous Search for Truth is just an amusement, a distraction like any other, a rather refined and elaborate substitute for genuine living; and that Truth­Searchers become just as silly, infantile and corrupt in their way as the boozers, the pure aesthetes, the business men, the Good-Timers in theirs. I also perceived that the pursuit of Truth is just a polite name for the intellectual's favourite pastime of substituting simple and therefore false abstractions for the living complexities of reality. But seeking Truth is much easier than learning the art of integral living (in which, of course, Truth-Seeking will take its due and proportionate place along with the other amusements, like skittles and mountain-climbing). Which explains, though it doesn't justify, my continued and excessive indulgence in the vices of informative reading and abstract generalization. Shall I ever have the strength of mind to break myself of these indolent habits of intellectualism and devote my energies to the more serious and difficult tasks of living integrally?124

Even though this states the assumption that truth cannot be found intellectually, to live an integral life seems to be worth striving for. Accordantly, Huxley’s aim is not ‘truth’ as such, but rather ‘integrity’, in other words, ‘harmony’ and ‘wholeness’. Huxley agrees with William Law in his essay “Good and Evil” of The Perennial Philosophy:

In all the possibility of things there is and can be but one happiness and one misery. The one misery is nature and creature left to itself, the one happiness is the Life, the Light, the Spirit of God, manifested in nature and creature. This is the true meaning of the words of Our Lord: There is but one that is good, and that is God.125

This ‘unity’ of all elements established by a connection with the ‘divine Reality’ is Huxley’s ultimate ‘truth’, not an intellectual one but a mystical one. Even though creation has ‘fallen’, there is a ‘Spirit of God’ uniting it. For Huxley, the perennial philosophy summarises this view:

The Perennial Philosophy is primarily concerned with the one, divine Reality substantial to the manifold world of things and lives and minds. But the nature of this one Reality is such that it cannot be directly and immediately apprehended except by those who have chosen to fulfil certain conditions, making themselves loving, pure in heart, and poor in spirit. Why should this be so? We do not know. It is just one of those facts which we have to accept, whether we like them or not and however implausible and unlikely they may seem.126

Hence, the perennial philosophy is the belief in a mystical presence in the midst of a universe that cannot be entirely understood.

In the middle of these contemplations, Huxley is aware that evil is always present in this world. Besides the incomprehensibility of the universe that needs to be embraced, it is also in the hands of every human being to choose the right things to do in Huxley’s eyes: “[...] since, according to Huxley’s cosmology, evil is part of the universe, it is also part of Man’s choices and activities, that is, co-exists with his free will.”127 Thus, Huxley takes the weight of suffering in this world from God and puts it on man’s shoulders, rooting the ‘problem of evil’ in anthropology.128 This agency grants humanity a certain freedom that, at the same time, implies difficulties, raising the question of how free humanity really can be.129 Modern dystopias such as Huxley's Brave New World (1932) or Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange (1962) address this issue,130 revealing the opposite of freedom by displaying how conditioning a human being or a whole society might entail that the ‘progress' of enlightenment including the freedom of thinking and judging without hindrance will turn into the ‘regress' of determinism. This consideration results in the paradoxical question whether “the complete abolition of evilness [would] imply the complete annihilation of freedom”,131 a topic addressed at large by Rüdiger Safranski's Das Böse oder Das Drama der Freiheit (1997):132 “Das Böse gehört zum Drama der menschlichen Freiheit. Es ist der Preis der Freiheit.”133 On the basis of the biblical creation story, Safranski explains that prohibitions, transgressions, evil, and freedom belong together:

Noch ehe er [der Mensch] also vom Baum der Erkenntnis des Guten und Bösen gegessen hat, ist er durch das Verbot bereits in die Unterscheidung von Gut und Böse eingewiesen worden. [...] Indem Gott dem Menschen freistellte, das Verbot zu akzeptieren oder zu übertreten, hat er ihm das Geschenk der Freiheit gemacht. [...] In der Sündenfallgeschichte werden wir Zeugen der Geburt des Neins, des Geistes der Verneinung. Gottes Verbot war das erste Nein in der Geschichte der Welt. Die Geburt des Neins und die der Freiheit gehören zusammen.134

Because freedom is connected to evilness, Saint Augustine suggests that it is part of human behaviour to want to act in evil ways.135 He explains this circumstance with the help of a childhood memory: Once he had stolen pears, however, not because he wanted to enjoy them but because the thrill of evil was more attractive than the normality of good.136 As a result, he realises that one can desire evil purely for the sake of evil.137 The worst evil, yet, is not connected to morality according to Saint Augustine, rather it is the refusal of the experience of God:138 [...] eine Art Dummheit im metaphysischen Sinn. Der Mensch wird eindimensional, früher sagte man, er ist verstockt. Er gehört zu Gott und merkt es nicht mehr. Er gehört zum Sein und läßt sich nicht mehr von ihm erfüllen. Das Böse ist dieser Mangel an Sein. Daraus erst folgen Handlungsweisen, die dann auch im engeren moralischen Sinne als ‘böse’ gelten. Der Ursprung davon aber ist [...] die Verweigerung und der Verlust der Gotteserfahrung.139

Evil is a lack in ‘being’ resulting from a denial of God. The ‘fullness of being’ can only be achieved when one loses oneself and directs ones focus on something outside of one’s own will: “Er erreicht sie [die Übereinstimmung mit sich selbst] nur, wenn er sich von dem bestimmen lässt, worin er enthalten ist, ohne es doch selbst zu sein. Er muß, mit anderen Worten, seinen Eigenwillen in Übereinstimmung bringen mit Gottes Willen.”140 This view corresponds to Huxley’s understanding of good and evil: “For the Perennial Philosophy, good is the separate self’s conformity to, and finally annihilation in, the divine Ground which gives it being; evil, the intensification of separateness, the refusal to know that the Ground exists.”139 What Saint Augustine names ‘God’, Huxley calls ‘divine Ground’; the underlying principle, however, remains the same. ‘Good’ means unity, involving self-abandonment and losing oneself in the ‘divine Ground’. ‘Evil’ is separateness, detachment from this ‘divinity’, a principle also present in Point Counter Point. C. G. Jung is another theorist who equates inner ‘wholeness’ with God. His example reveals the connection between finding and losing oneself from a psychoanalytic perspective:

Jung increasingly saw the Self (vs. the ego) as an image of Christ in the psyche, and as a pointer towards a state of wholeness or individuation. The Self is, for Jung the centre of the whole personality, whereas the ego is the centre of consciousness of the person’s current state of development. Much that theology would wish to say about God and the transcendent, Jung says within the psychological domain about the Self. For example, the ego cannot work out its own salvation (or ‘individuation’). Rather, it must recognize the need to concentrate on something beyond itself, whether this is formulated as the Self, or as God.140

The unity with oneself, thus, can only be achieved when one focuses on something higher than the ego. Safranski explains that in theological terms it was back in ‘paradise’ when humanity lost the unity with itself: “Im Paradies beginnt die Karriere des Bewußtseins und damit zugleich das Abenteuer der Freiheit: Dabei gewinnt man einiges, aber man verliert auch die fraglose Einheit mit sich und allem Lebendigen.”141 This unity has to be reclaimed and deliberately chosen according to Huxley.142 The worst evil, for Huxley, is that which causes the greatest intensity of suffering, which is in concrete terms the “malignity in the disguise of godly aspirations”.143 This reveals that Huxley was not necessarily on good terms with Christianity. At least, Huxley's general understanding of God is characterised by impersonality. One must not forget, however, that Huxley is concerned with the question of theodicy because many aspects already mentioned such as the connection between freedom and evilness are addressed in Point Counter Point. Most of all, however, he contemplates the ‘problem of evil' with Maurice Spandrell.

3. Spandrell as the Incarnation of Evilness

3.1 Spandrell as a Perpetrator

3.1.1 Spandrell as a Loner

In compliance with Huxley's definition of good and evil, Spandrell first of all is a perpetrator because he chooses detachment from ‘divinity' over ‘unity'. Even though the therapy of solitariness could be community, Spandrell deliberately decides to stay in a place of isolation:

It had been raining for days. To Spandrell it seemed as though the fungi and the mildew were sprouting even in his soul. He lay in bed, or sat in his dismal room, or leaned against the counter in a public-house, feeling the slimy growth within him, watching it with his inward eyes. But if only you'd do something,' his mother had so often implored. ‘Anything.' And all his friends had said the same thing, had gone on saying it for years. [...] The rain fell and fell; the mushrooms sprouted in his very heart and he deliberately cultivated them. He could have gone to see his friends; but he preferred to be bored and alone.144


1 Cyril Connolly, “Review in New Statesman, October 1928”, Aldous Huxley, The Critical Heritage, Ed. Donald Watt (London and Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1975), 153-155; 153.

2 D. H. Lawrence, “D. H. Lawrence on Point Counter Point, November 1928”, Aldous Huxley, The Critical Heritage, Ed. Donald Watt (London and Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1975), 172-173; 172.

3 Joseph Wood Krutch, “Review of Point Counter Point for the Nation, October 1928”, Aldous Huxley, The Critical Heritage, Ed. Donald Watt (London and Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1975), 157­159; 157-158. Cyril Connolly thinks of Point Counter Point as “a slice of life” (Connolly, “Review in New Statesman”, 155).

4 L. P. Hartley, “Review in Saturday Review, October 1928”, Aldous Huxley, The Critical Heritage, Ed. Donald Watt (London and Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1975), 149-151; 151. Going in line with Hartley's criticism, Rachel A. Taylor judges: “Mr. Huxley takes too many of his types from the pathology textbooks” (Rachel Annand Taylor, “Review in Spectator, October 1928”, Aldous Huxley, The Critical Heritage, Ed. Donald Watt (London and Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1975), 152-153; 152). See also Connolly, “Review in New Statesman”, 155.

5 It has been pointed out by Donald J. Watt that Spandrell is both ‘criminal' and ‘victim' (see Donald J. Watt, “The Criminal-Victim Pattern in Huxley's Point Counter Point”, Studies in the Novel 2:1 (1970), 42-51; 48-49).

6 Aldous Huxley, On the Margin, Repr. (London: Chatto & Windus, 1948), 41.

7 Reed Way Dasenbrock, “An Absurd Century, Varieties of Satire”, The Cambridge Companion to the Twentieth-Century English Novel, Ed. Robert L. Caserio (Cambridge et al.: Cambridge UP, 2009), 192­209; 246.

8 Spandrell can be seen as protagonist of the novel because Spandrell's character is the only one who comprises all of the four themes of the novel at once (see Robert S. Baker, “Spandrell's ‘Lydian Heaven', Moral Masochism and the Centrality of Spandrell in Huxley's Point Counter Point”, Criticism, A Quarterly for Literature and the Arts 16:2 (1974), 120-135; 135). According to Baker, the four themes revolve around parent, lover, death, and God (see ibid.).

9 See Aldous Huxley, Point Counter Point, Repr. (London: Vintage, 2004), 192-197 (Ch. 12) and esp. 467-471 (Ch. 30).

10 Aldous Huxley, Do What You Will, Essays by Aldous Huxley, Repr. (New York: Books for Libraries Press, 1975), 3.

11 Bernfried Nugel, “'A Kind of Early Christian Malignity', Aldous Huxley's Analysis of Evil in His Later Works”, But Vindicate the Ways of God to Man, Literature and Theodicy, Eds. Rudolf Freiburg and Susanne Gruss (Tübingen: Stauffenburg, 2004), 385-402; 387.

12 Huxley, Point Counter Point, 393 (Ch. 23). Critics suggest that the individual psychology, founded by Alfred Adler, is an alternative approach to Freudian psychoanalysis (see Don C. Dinkmeyer, W. L. Pew, and Don C. Dinkmeyer, Jr., Adlerian Counseling and Psychotherapy (Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole, 1979), 1). Adler also influenced Freud so that they are regarded as colleagues rather than teacher and student (see Thomas J. Sweeney, Adlerian Counseling and Psychotherapy, A Practitioners Approach (New York et al.: Routledge, 2009), 3-4; e.g. Freud mentions A. Alder in his lectures (see Sigmund Freud, Gesammelte Werke, Chronologisch Geordnet, Vorlesungen zur Einführung in die Psychoanalyse, Vol. 11, Repr. (London: Imago, 1948), 421)). Since Rampion clarifies his position in talking about the ‘individual's psychology' and not ‘individual psychology' as in the first part of the sentence, it is assumed that Huxley did not intend a reference to Alfred Adler's individual psychology in Point Counter Point but referred to the literal sense of the term.

13 Roy F. Baumeister, “Human Evil, The Myth of Pure Evil and the True Causes of Violence”, The Social Psychology of Morality, Exploring the Causes of Good and Evil, Eds. Mario Mikulincer and Phillip R. Shaver (Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2012), 367-380; 372.

14 Rudolf Freiburg distinguishes between the genre of the essay and the essayistic mode (see Rudolf Freiburg, “Essayistik“, Einführung in das Studium der Englischen Literatur, Eds. Arno Löffler, Rudolf Freiburg et al., 6th ed. (Tübingen: A. Francke, 2001), 146-170; 146). It is referred to the latter here.

15 As he expressed it in a letter to his father, it was Huxley's aim: “[.] to show a piece of life, not only from a good many individual points of view, but also under its various aspects such as scientific, emotional, economic, political, aesthetic, etc.” (Smith Grover (ed.), Letters of Aldous Huxley (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1970), 275 (21st of October 1926)).

16 See Ludwig Rohner, Der Deutsche Essay, Materialien zur Geschichte und Ästhetik einer Literarischen Gattung (Neuwied: Hermann Luchterhand, 1966), 566.

17 Huxley, Point Counter Point, 385 (Ch. 22).

18 Ibid. 30 (Ch. 2).

19 Laurence Brander, Aldous Huxley, A Critical Study (Lewisburg: Bucknell UP, 1970), 196.

20 See Rudolf Freiburg and Susanne Gruss, “Introduction”, But Vindicate the Ways of God to Man, Literature and Theodicy, Eds. Rudolf Freiburg and Susanne Gruss (Tübingen: Stauffenburg, 2004), 13­47; 17. This introduces a first paradox of theodicy because evil and knowledge seem to be connected (see ibid. 18).

21 See ibid. 19. Gudula Linck provides an introduction into Chinese philosophy and explains that Yin and Yang is a sign derived from Chinese philosophy (taoism): Its meaning goes back until the first century BC (see Gudula Linck, Yin und Yang, Auf der Suche nach Ganzheit im Chinesischen Denken, Repr. (München: Beck, 2006), 12). Lao Zi, a philosopher and poet of ancient China and a contemporary of Confucius (dated to the sixth century BC), was the founder of Taoism; an important work of his is Tao Te Ching (written approximately around the sixth century BC) (see Laozi, Tao Te Ching, Ed. Robert G. Hendricks (New York: Columbia UP, 2000)).

22 See Freiburg and Gruss, “Introduction”, 18-19.

23 Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy (New York et al.: Harper & Brothers, 1945), 176.

24 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust, Der Tragödie Erster Theil (Tübingen: J. G. Cotta, 1808), 86 (1. Akt, “Studierzimmer”).

25 Rudolf Freiburg and Susanne Gruss raise this issue in the introduction to their collective volume on theodicy and literature: “[.] do we need the forces of evilness, and suffering only to recognize eventually that these are part and parcel of a Divine (felix - culpa -)welfare programme that - owing to the overflowing principle of love - comprises evildoer and victim alike?” (Freibug and Gruss, “Introduction”, 19).

26 Huxley, Point Counter Point, 203 (Ch. 12).

27 See Huxley, Perennial Philosophy, 1.

28 Rüdiger Safranski, Das Böse oder Das Drama der Freiheit (München und Wien: Carl Hanser Verlag, 1997), 13.

29 See Carl-Friedrich Geyer, “Das Theodizeeproblem, Ein Historischer und Systematischer Überblick”, Theodizee, Gott vor Gericht? Ed. Willi Oelmüller (München: Fink, 1990), 9-32; 12-3.

30 Privatio honi is Latin for the ‘privation of good’, meaning the absence of good (see G. R. Evans, Augustine on Evil (Cambridge et al.: Cambridge UP, 1982), 3-6).

31 See Safranski, Drama der Freiheit, 58.

32 Saint Augustine, Enchiridion, On Faith, Hope, and Love, Transl. Albert C. Outler (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, n.d.), 9 (Ch. 4), URL: [Web. 13th of September 2016, 12:58].

33 See ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, Repr. (Wilmette, IL: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1982), 263-264. Some Answered Questions (1908) is “a collection of transcriptions of table talks given by ‘Abdu’l-Baha in ‘Akka between 1904 and 1906 in response to questions posed by Laura Dreyfus-Barney, an American Baha’i resident in Paris” (Baha’i International Community, “Baha’i Reference Library, Writings and Talks of ‘Abdu’l-Baha”, The Baha’i Faith, The Website of the Worldwide Baha’i Community (2016), URL: questions/ [Web. 17th of March 2016, 10:27]).

34 ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, 264.

35 As an example, C. G. Jung is one of the critics of the privatio honi doctrine (see Fraser N. Watts, “Psychological Science and Christian Thought”, The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Thought, Ed. Alister McGrath (Oxford et al.: Blackwell, 1993), 531-535; 534).

36 For this situation, it should not be necessary to give any evidence. Yet, the shocking cruelty of the Holocaust shall be mentioned as one example. For an elaboration on the Holocaust in connection with questions of theodicy see Rudolf Freiburg, “’Moments that murdered my God and my Soul’, Der Theodizee-Diskurs im Spiegel ausgewählter Holocaut-Literatur”, Literatur und Holocaust, Eds. Rudolf Freiburg and Gerd Bayer (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2009), 111-139.

37 See Odo Marquard et al., “Malum”, Historisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie, Eds. Joachim Ritter and Karlfried Gründer, Vol. 5 (Basel: Schwabe, 1980), 652-706; 671-674. The malum physicum has also been designated as the ‘extra-moral evil': “Sowohl das außer-moralische wie das moralisch Schlechte besitzt eine eigene, dem Guten real entgegengesetzte Wirklichkeit” (Friedrich Hermanni, Das Böse und die Theodizee, Eine Philosophisch-Theologische Grundlegung (Gütersloh: Kaiser, Gütersloher, 2002), 17; see also Nugel, “'A Kind of Early Christian Malignity'”, 386).

38 See Marquard et al., “Malum”, 654.

39 See Michael Tooley, “The Problem of Evil”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Ed. Edward N. Zalta, Rev. (Standford, CA: The Metaphysics Research Lab/Center for the Study of Language and Information/Stanford University, 2015), URL: [Web. 25th of March 2016, 10:56].

40 John Hick, Evil and the God of Love (London: Macmillan, 1966), 201.

41 Augustine, Enchiridion, 2-25 (Ch. 26).

42 Samuel Johnson, The Idler (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1863), 95 (No. 89).

43 The book of Job is oftentimes said to be the oldest book of the Bible, however, the time of writing is non-determinable (see Fritz Rienecker and Gerhard Maier, Lexikon zur Bibel, Repr. (Wuppertal: R. Brockhaus, 2006), 715). Robert Kugler and Patrick J. Hartin place the time of writing book of Job in the time of the exile of the Israelites approximately between 700 and 500 BC (see Robert Kugler and Patrick J. Hartin, An Introduction to the Bible (Grand Rapids and Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2009), 15). Rüdiger Safranski clarifies the confusion: “Job” is one of the later books of the Old Testament (approx. written in the third or fourth century) but it is based on an older text which has been included in the version of the Bible as we know it today (see Safranski, Drama der Freiheit, 299).

44 See Freiburg and Gruss, “Introduction“, 41. For details, see Georg Langenhorst, “Struggling with God under the Sign of Job, Job in the English Literature of the 20th Century”, But Vindicate the Ways of God to Man, Literature and Theodicy, Eds. Rudolf Freiburg and Susanne Gruss (Tübingen: Stauffenburg, 2004), 339-357; 339. The book of Job describes how the devil challenges God with the assumption that Job would not continue worshipping God if he lost everything in his life. When God agrees to join in this bet, Job has to suffer extremely: He looses everything and everyone, his property, his family, friends, and even his health (see “Job”, The Holy Bible, Repr. (Colorado Springs: New International Version, 1984), 352-376).

45 Nemesis Divina is the belief that God directly punishes those who deserve it because of their evil deeds (see Freiburg and Gruss, “Introduction“, 24), i.e. Job’s friends assumed that Job must have done something wrong to arouse God’s anger.

46 Aldous Huxley, Music at Night And Other Essays (Leibzig: Tauchnitz, approx. 1931), 91, 100.

47 For an elaboration on literary examples of the twentieth century contemplating the issue addressed in the book of Job see Langenhorst, “Struggling with God under the Sign of Job”, 339-357. Georg Langenhorst mentions George Bernhard Shaw's The Adventures of the Black Girl in her Search for God (1932) in which God is refused because he denies to answer the protagonist's questions, H.G. Wells's The Undying Fire (1919) which is a retelling of the biblical story including a happy end, Robert Frost's A Masque of Unreason (1945) displaying theodicy as a subordination to unreason (Frost autobiographically identifies with Job), and Archibald McLeish's drama J.B. A Play in Verse (1956) in which the friends are represented as Marxism, Freudian psychoanalysis, and traditional Christianity - just like Job's friends, they fail to comfort and the love of a woman is the only answer to Man's weakness (see Freiburg and Gruss, “Introduction“, 41).

48 Epicurus lived from the fourth to the third century BC (see Klaus-Dieter Zacher, “Epikur”, Metzler Philosophen Lexikon, Von den Vorsokratikern bis zu den Neuen Philosophen, Vol. 2 (Stuttgart and Weimar: J. B. Metzler, 1995), 253-256; 253). According to Epicurus, the basis for knowledge is sensual perception, which means that it is sensuality, either lust or pain, that helps to discern between good and evil: “Die Basis aller Erkenntnis ist [...] die sinnliche Wahrnehmung. [...] Lust und Schmerz zeigen an, was der menschlichen Natur eigentümlich bzw. fremd ist. Damit wird die Sinnlichkeit zum Kriterium für das Gute und das Übel.“ (Ibid. 254-255.)

49 Lactantius, “A Treatise on the Anger of God”, The Works of Lactantius, trans. William Fletcher, Vol. 2, (Edinburgh: Clark, 1971), 1-48; 28.

50 See “Theodicy”, The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., Vol. 17 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), 895.

51 Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man, In Epistles to a Friend, Part 1, 2nd ed. (London: printed for J. Wilford, 1733), 8.

52 Kevin L. Cope, for instance, argues this way (see Kevin L. Cope, “The Panorama of Theodicy, Or, Appealing Impressions of Evil in Assorted 18th Century Descriptive Writers, with a View toward Leibnitz”, But Vindicate the Ways of God to Man, Literature and Theodicy, Eds. Rudolf Freiburg and Susanne Gruss (Tübingen: Stauffenburg, 2004), 113-129).

53 Referring to Immanuel Kant's sapere aude (see Immanuel Kant, “Beantwortung der Frage, Was Ist Aufklärung?“, Berlinische Monatsschrift 12 (Berlin: Haude und Spener, 1784), 481-494).

54 One century before the Enlightenment, the paradigm shift from the Ptolemaic system to the Copernican system had been taking place, which enabled a decisive turn for humanity and science (see Owen Gingerich, The Book Nobody Read, Chasing the Revolutions of Nicolaus Copernicus (London: Penguin, 2005), 53-58). For a description of the two differing systems see ibid. 44. On a side note, Immanuel Kant's achievements in the philosophical realm are referred to as ‘Copernican revolution' (see Dieter Schönecker, Dennis Schulting, and Niko Strobach, “Kants Kopernikanisch-Newtonische Analogie”, Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie 59:4 (2011), 497-518; 497).

55 See Herrmann Josef Real, “Conversations with a Theodicist, William King's Essay on the Origin of Evil, with Some Sidelights on Hobbes, Milton, and Pope”, But Vindicate the Ways of God to Man, Literature and Theodicy, Eds. Rudolf Freiburg and Susanne Gruss (Tübingen: Stauffenburg, 2004), 85­111. William King saw moral evilness as resulting from human choice, which is why Herrmann J. Real argues that King practiced theodicy as anthropodicy (see Freiburg and Gruss, “Introduction”, 33).

56 See Real, “Conversations with a Theodicist”, 86.

57 See Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz, Die Beste Aller Möglichen Welten, In: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz, Die Theodizee, Transl. Artur Buchenau, 2nd ed. (Hamburg: Meiner, 1968), 101-102, 175-176.

58 Sub specie aeternitatis is a Latin term translating to English ‘from the perspective of eternity'.

59 Leibnitz, Die Beste Aller Möglichen Welten, 198.

60 Ibid. 199.

61 See Freiburg and Gruss, “Introduction”, 27.

62 See ibid. 25-27.

63 See ibid. 26.

64 See ibid. 32. For an elaboration on the topic see Jürgen Klein, “Francis Bacon (1561-1626), Natural Philosophy as Theodicy”, But Vindicate the Ways of God to Man, Literature and Theodicy, Eds. Rudolf Freiburg and Susanne Gruss (Tübingen: Stauffenburg, 2004), 49-72.

65 See Freiburg and Gruss, “Introduction”, 32.

66 See ibid. 26.

67 Ibid. 20.

68 This is worked out in detail by Freiburg and Gruss in the introduction to But Vindicate the Ways of God to Man (2004) (see Freiburg and Gruss, “Introduction”, 13-47).

69 Poetic justice is “a literary equivalent to ‘Divine justice'” (ibid. 25), i.e. the idea that characters in a novel ‘get what they deserve' just like God punishes people for their evil deeds in ‘real' life. It was the English drama critic Thomas Rymer who coined the phrase Poetical Justice in order to describe an author's way to discipline his audience by displaying ‘Divine Justice' (see Thomas Rymer, The Tragedies of the Last Age Considere'd and Examine'd by the Practice of the Ancients and by the Common Sense of All Ages (London: Richard Tonson, 1678), 23-26). Poetic justice is only one of several ways of displaying faith in God's comprehensive order and wisdom with the help of the content of a literary work.

70 See Freiburg and Gruss, “Introduction”, 27. For an in-depth analysis of Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones see Simon Varey, Space and the Eighteenth-Century Novel (Cambridge et al.: Cambridge UP, 1990), 156-180.

71 See Freiburg and Gruss, “Introduction”, 27. See also Martin C. Battestin, The Providence of Wit, Aspects of Form in Augustan Literature and the Arts, Repr. (Charlottesville: Virginia UP, 1989), 141­163, esp. 149.

72 See Freiburg and Gruss, “Introduction”, 25.

73 Norbert Hoerster summarises Leibnitz’s theory with the idea that single evils should not be considered individually but regarded according to their functions in the universe (see Norbert Hoerster, Glaube und Vernunft, Texte zur Religionsphilosophie (Stuttgart: Reclam, 1985), 96). Leibnitz’s theories also have to be seen in the light of discussions about reason (of philosophers and writers such as Francis Bacon and Jonathan Swift, for example). For the original text see Leibnitz, Die Beste Aller Möglichen Welten, 176­178.

74 Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man, Ed. Maynard Mack (London and New Haven: Methuen & Co. LTD and Yale UP, 1951), 139.

75 See Freiburg and Gruss, “Introduction”, 16.

76 The Lisbon earthquake was extremely shocking for its contemporaries: “The eighteenth century used the word Lisbon as much as we use the word Auschwitz today.” (Susan Neiman, Evil in Modern Thought, An Alternative History of Philosophy (Princeton: Princeton UP, 2004), 1.)

77 Candide, an illegitimate son, who is in love with the Kingdom’s princess, has to leave ‘the best of all worlds’ that he lived in because he is caught making love to her. When he travels the world, he encounters a multitude of evils and sufferings, amongst them, for example, the Lisbon earthquake (see Voltaire, Candide Ou l’Optimisme (Genf: Frères Cramer, 1759)).

78 See Freiburg and Gruss, “Introduction”, 34.

79 See ibid. 36. For details see Bruce Arnold, “Aspects of Theodicy in Jonathan Swift's Work”, But Vindicate the Ways of God to Man, Literature and Theodicy, Eds. Rudolf Freiburg and Susanne Gruss (Tübingen: Stauffenburg, 2004), 171-180.

80 See Freiburg and Gruss, “Introduction”, 36. For details see Flavio Gregori, “Gulliver's Myopic Reformation: Reason and Evil in Gulliver’s Travels”, But Vindicate the Ways of God to Man, Literature and Theodicy, Eds. Rudolf Freiburg and Susanne Gruss (Tübingen: Stauffenburg, 2004), 181-203.

81 See Freiburg and Gruss, “Introduction”, 36. For details see Klein, “Francis Bacon”, 49-72.

82 See ibid. 49-72.

83 See Freiburg and Gruss, “Introduction”, 28. The rationally planned extinction event of the Holocaust is an example for reason used for evil.

84 See ibid. For details see Hermann Josef Real and Heinz J. Vienken, Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels (München: Fink, 1984), 26-33, esp. 32-33 and Gregori, “Gulliver's Myopic Reformation”, 181-203.

85 See Freiburg and Gruss, “Introduction”, 28. The term misanthropy is derived from Greek ‘misos' (hatred) and ‘anthropos' (man) and means “hatred of mankind” (“Misanthropy”, The Oxford English Dictionary, Eds. J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner, 2nd ed., Vol. 9 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), 846). For a profound history of the term and its definitions as well as related concepts see H. Huning, “Misanthropie”, Historisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie, Eds. Joachim Ritter and Karlfried Gründer, Vol. 5 (Basel: Schwabe, 1980), 1402-1408.

86 See Freiburg and Gruss, “Introduction”, 28.

87 Michel Foucault describes the episteme as “something like a world-view, a slice of history common to all branches of knowledge, which imposes on each one the same norms and postulates, a general stage of reason, a certain structure of thought that the men of a particular period cannot escape - a great body of legislation written once and for all by some anonymous hand. By episteme, we mean, in fact, the total set of relations that unite, at a given period, the discursive practices that give rise to epistemological figures, sciences, and possibly formalized systems” (Michel Foucault, The Archeology of Knowledge and the Discourse on Language (New York: Pantheon Books, 1972), 191). Thus, in Foucault's sense, “[...] the episteme is a specifically discursive apparatus” (Michel Foucault, Power/Knowledge, Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972-1977, Ed. Colin Gordon, 1st American ed. (New York: Pantheon Books, 1980), 197). More particularly, he defines “[.] the episteme retrospectively as the strategic apparatus which permits of separating out from among all the statements which are possible those that will be acceptable within, I won't say a scientific theory, but a field of scientificity, and which it is possible to say are true or false. The episteme is the ‘apparatus' which makes possible the separation, not of the true from the false, but of what may form what may not be characterised as scientific.“ (ibid.)

88 The absurd is connected to Camus (for an explanation see Safranski, Drama der Freiheit, 220-201). As a result of a contingent worldview characterised by absurdity, the world can be upside down so that tragedy might be perceived as comedy and the other way around - completely coincidental (see Freiburg and Gruss, “Introduction”, 29). The absurd is also a feature of postmodern fiction (see Andrzej Gasiorek, “Postmodernisms of English Fiction”, The Cambridge Companion to the Twentieth-Century English Novel, Ed. Robert L. Caserio (Cambridge et al.: Cambridge UP, 2009), 238-250; 193).

89 Safranski, Drama der Freiheit, 219-220.

90 Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, With a Prelude in German Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs, Ed. Bernhard Williams (Cambridge et al.: Cambridge UP, 2001), 120 (Section 125, “The Madman”).

91 Arthur Schopenhauer, Parerga und Paralipomena, Kleine Philosophische Schriften von Arthur Schopenhauer, Vol. 1 (Zürich: Haffmans, 1988), 124.

92 See Gerhard Wagner, The ‘Beauty-Truths' of Literature, Elemente einer Dichtungstheorie in Aldous Huxleys Essayistik (Münster et al.: Lit, 2001), 12. Gerhard Wagner elaborates on the modern worldviews with regard to Aldous Huxley in a detailed way (see ibid. 7-46).

93 See ibid. 8.

94 Marshall Berman, All That is Solid Melts Into Air, The Experience of Modernity (New York: Penguin, 1988), 15.

95 See Freiburg and Gruss, “Introduction”, 30-31.

96 See Virginia Woolf, “Modern Fiction”, The Essays of Virginia Woolf, Vol. 4: 1925-1928, Ed. Andrew McNeillie (London: The Hogarth Press, 1994), 157-164. Aldous Huxley was a friend of the Bloomsbury Group of which Virginia Woolf was a part.

97 See Freiburg and Gruss, “Introduction”, 31.

98 See ibid.

99 Philip Tallon argues that “the theodicy literature of the last sixty years is formidable and specialized (Barry L. Whitney records 4,200 works on the subject between 1960 and 1991)” (Philip Tallon, The Poetics of Evil, Toward an Aesthetic Theodicy (Oxford et al.: Oxford UP, 2012), 15). Considering the fact that he only speaks of a small niche and without losing sight of the big picture, this is certainly true and only shows how deeply affected humanity always has been and probably always will be by the topic of theodicy. Contemporary theodicy is connected to names like Stephen Hawking and the American philosopher Alvin Plantinga who, for instance, is a representative of a ‘free will defence' arguing that the root of evil is the free will of human beings which implies that the existence of a God remains possible (see Kenneth Surin, “Evangelism”, The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Thought, Ed. Alister McGrath (Oxford et al.: Blackwell, 1993), 192-199; 193). The ‘free will defence' goes back as far as to Saint Augustine (ibid.).

100 “[...] the dominant of modernist writing is epistemological” (Brian McHale, “Change of Dominant from Modernist to Postmodernist Writing”, Approaching Postmodernism, Papers Presented at a Workshop on Postmodernism, University of Utrecht, 21-23 Sept. 1984, Eds. Theo D'Haen and Hans Bertens (Amsterdam: Benjamins, 1986), 53-79; 58). Brian McHale suggests that the shift from modernism to postmodernism is identified by the change “from problems of knowing to problems of modes of being - from an epistemological dominant to an ontological one” (ibid. 59-60). Yet, there are other opinions about the underlying modern and postmodern principles as there is an on-going discussion about the characteristics of modernism and postmodernism (see e.g. Diane Tiefensee, The Old Dualities, Deconstructing Robert Kroetsch and His Critics (Montreal & Kingston et al.: McGill-Queen's UP, 1994), 36; Hans Bertens, “The Postmodern Weltanschauung and its Relation with Modernism: An Introductory Story”, Approaching Postmodernism, Papers Presented at a Workshop on Postmodernism, University of Utrecht, 21-23 Sept. 1984, Eds. Theo D'Haen and Hans Bertens (Amsterdam: Benjamins, 1986), 9-51; 9­10).

101 “Intractable epistemological uncertainty [...] becomes at a certain point ontological plurality or instability: push epistemological questions far enough and they ‘tip over' into ontological questions. By the same token, push ontological questions far enough and they tip over into epistemological questions - the progression is not linear and one-way, but circular and reversible.” (McHale, “Change of Dominant”, 60.)

102 See Watt, “Criminal-Victim Pattern”, 43. Robert S. Baker calls Spandrell a ‘Truth-Searcher' and ‘God-Seeker' (see Baker, “'Spandrell's Lydian Heaven'”, 129-130).

103 See Brander, Aldous Huxley, 196.

104 See ibid. See also Annie Russell Marble, A Study of the Modern Novel, British and American, Since 1900 (New York and London: D. Appleton and Company, 1928), 161; Mark Longaker, Contemporary English Literature (New York: Appelton-Century-Crofts, 1953), 336.

105 There seems to be a paradox of knowledge and happiness: “The fact that knowing more may eventually mean knowing less is one of the existential paradoxes of the condition humaine.” (Freiburg and Gruss, “Introduction”, 18.)

106 Docta ignorantia is a term coined by Nicolaus Cusanus and refers to the idea “that nothing can be known precisely ([...] only God's knowledge is perfect and precise)” (Jasper Hopkins, Nicolas of Cusa on Learned Ignorance, A Translation and an Appraisal of De Docta Ignorantia (Minneapolis, WI: The Arthur J. Banning Press, 1987), 3). For example: “Socrates is said to be wise precisely because he knows that he does not know.” (ibid.) In Point Counter Point, it is most of all Philip Quarles, Huxley's representation of his own (see Robert Fricker, Der Moderne Englische Roman, Repr. (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Rupprecht, 1966), 164; Malcolm Bradbury, Possibilities, Essays on the State of the Novel (London et al.: Oxford UP, 1973), 152; Zack Bowen, “Allusions to Musical Works in Point Counter Point”, Studies in the Novel 9:4 (1977), 488-508; 498), who suffers from an emotional distance from the world and its people as a result of a highly developed intellectual life (see e.g. Huxley, Point Counter Point, 419 (Ch. 26)). For a deeper insight into the topic Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno's thoughts on the dialectic of enlightenment should be considered (see Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, Dialektik der Aufklärung, Philosophische Fragmente, Repr. (Frankfurt: Fischer, 2009)).

107 Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception (London: Chatto & Windus, 1954), 3, URL: [Web. 9th of September 2016, 15:20].

108 See Huxley, Point Counter Point, 135 (Ch. 9).

109 Huxley, Perennial Philosophy, ix.

110 Here, there is a direct connection of Huxley’s title to William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790), in which it says: “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.“ (William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, IV, Ed. Geoffrey Keynes (London: Oxford UP, 1975), xxii). In his The Doors of Perception, Huxley also refers to Blake as someone who had the extraordinary ability to express the ‘inner reality’ that he was able to perceive (see Huxley, Doors of Perception, 14).

111 See ibid. 6.

112 The perennial philosophy was coined by Augustinus Steuchius (1497-1548) (see Leroy E. Loemker, “Perennial Philosophy”, Dictionary of the History of Ideas, Studies of Selected Pivotal Ideas, Ed. Philip P. Wiener, Vol. 3 (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1973), 457-463; 457). Amongst many others, also Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz is one of Huxley's predecessors researching the perennial philosophy: Leibnitz extended the perennial philosophy because he wanted to provide “an eclectic analysis of the truth and falsehood of all philosophies, both ancient and modern” (ibid. 458).

113 See Nugel, “'A Kind of Early Christian Malignity'”, 400.

114 Huxley, Perennial Philosophy, 183-184.

115 See Nugel, “'A Kind of Early Christian Malignity'”, 401.

116 This will become clear in the further course of this paper.

117 See Huxley, Perennial Philosophy, 182.

118 See ibid. 182-183.

119 See ibid. and 179.

120 Aldous Huxley, Island, Repr. (London: Chatto & Windus, 1972), 86.

121 “One has to accept the universe as it is, he argues, in its frightful as well as pleasant dimensions, and cannot hope to understand why some people appear to be rewarded and others punished.” (Nugel, “'A Kind of Early Christian Malignity'”, 387).

122 Huxley, Music at Night, 92. This argument reminds of the Biblical book of Job and philosophical opinions of, for example, Samuel Johnson and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz as has already been described earlier in this paper (see chapter 2.1). Interestingly, Safranski argues: “Nach der Sintflut gilt auch für Gott der Grundsatz: Man muß [sic] lernen mit dem Bösen zu leben. Das Böse gehört, jedenfalls alttestamentarisch, von nun an nicht nur zur conditio humana, sondern auch zur conditio divina.” (Safranski, Drama der Freiheit, 32)

123 See Fricker, Der Moderne Englische Roman, 164; Bradbury, Possibilities, 152; Bowen, “Allusions to Musical Works”, 498.

124 Huxley, Point Counter Point, 419 (Ch. 26).

125 Huxley, Perennial Philosophy, 181, reciting William Law.

126 Ibid. viii.

127 Nugel, “’A Kind of Early Christian Malignity’”, 401.

128 Practicing an ‘anthropodicy’ in connection with theodicy has been a common approach to the ‘problem of evil’ ever since, starting with William King’s De origine mali (1702) (see Freiburg and Gruss, “Introduction”, 33) over to Edward Young’s Night Thoughts (1742-1734) “since he shifts the responsibility for ‘moral Good’ from God’s shoulders to those of Man himself” (ibid. 35). For details see John A. Baker, “Wishful Thinking? Theodicy and the Divine Economy in Edward Young’s Night Thoughts (1742-1746)”, But Vindicate the Ways of God to Man, Literature and Theodicy, Eds. Rudolf Freiburg and Susanne Gruss (Tübingen: Stauffenburg, 2004), 153-170.

129 See Freiburg and Gruss, “Introduction”, 19-20.

130 See ibid. 20

131 Ibid.

132 As examples from literary history cherishing the evil's battle for freedom may serve John Milton's Paradise Lost (1667), Percy B. Shelley's, and William Blake's works, as well as the nineteenth-century gothic novels and horror stories, e.g. by Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Robert Louis Stevenson (see ibid. 28-29).

133 Safranski, Drama der Freiheit, 13.

134 Ibid. 23, 26.

135 See ibid. 51.

136 See ibid.

137 See ibid. 52. ‘Evil for evil's sake' is a concept strongly linked to the Marquis de Sade. An elaboration will follow later in this paper.

138 See ibid. 56-57.

139 Huxley, Perennial Philosophy, 211.

140 Watts, “Psychological Science”, 534.

141 Safranski, Drama der Freiheit, 24-25.

142 Remaining with psychoanalysis and speaking in terms of Jacques Lacan, this ‘paradise' can be considered as the utopian unity with the mother in the imaginary realm (see Doris Feldmann, “Lacan, Jacques-Marie Émile”, Metzler Lexikon, Literatur- und Kulturtheorie, Ansätze, Personen, Grundbegriffe, Ed. Ansgar Nünning, 4th ed. (Stuttgart: Metzler, 2008), 409-410; esp. 410).

143 Nugel, “'A Kind of Early Christian Malignity'”, 401.

144 Huxley, Point Counter Point, 281, 288 (Ch. 17).

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Maurice Spandrell and the ‘Problem of Evil’ in "Point Counter Point" (1928) by Aldous Huxley
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