More on Chapter VII

September 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

I was recently rereading an essay on Walda Heywat that I started some time back, and it contained a pretty nice passage (if I may say so myself) on chapter VII of Zera Yacob’s Treatise, which I posted last week. I reproduce it below.

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Zera Yacob is so confident of God’s providence that it figures in a argument for life after death. It’s clear that there is another life, he says,

for in this world our desire is not fulfilled: those in need desire to possess, those who possess desire more, and though man owned the whole world, he is not satisfied and craves for more. This inclination of our nature shows us that we are created not only for this life, but also for the coming world.

Moreover justice in this world is imperfect, and “therefore there must needs be another life and another justice.” The fact that Zera Yacob would argue that there must be another life on the basis of a recognition of God’s providence shows how far he is from a deep concern with evil as a philosophical problem. We see here again that “the goodness of the created thing” is a basic assumption in Zera Yacob’s thought: the insatiability of our desires is not a sign of corruptness, nor a cause for despair, nor a reason to try to extirpate them. Our natural drives are to be embraced and if there is no obvious satisfaction for them here then it must be available elsewhere.

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