Absolute success over evil is impossible

Aftab Ahmed Khanzada

The writer is a senior analyst based in Hyderabad

By using truth, knowledge and goodness, man keeps inflicting deep injuries on his bestiality and ignorance

Dostoyevsky would not imagine life without belief. In his masterpiece, The Brothers Karamazov, he writes that goodness and evil are busy fighting each other all the time, and the human heart is their battlefield. The very same concept surfaces again in his novel, The Double, which like his other masterpieces took Russian literati and progressive circles by storm.

Even Tolstoy was not behind in lapping up the emerging trend while writing his confessions. But, in the twentieth century, Albert Camus dubbed the proverbial duel between the arch-rivals in the human heart as an intellectual suicide. According to him, the pursuit of lasting happiness is an evasion of the imminent absurdity.

Robert Louis Stevenson, the famous Scottish novelist, has also presented this truth of life in his novel, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, in which Mr Utterson, who is a lawyer, narrates the story of Dr Jekyll, who is living in the affluent area of the city. Thus, every character of the novel belongs to the upper class of the English society.

Being a well-educated scion of a rich family, he frankly feels that the more he pursues decency the more serpents of evil desires are awake in his heart. He, therefore, keeps asking himself why his every effort for goodness excites evil in him, even though he is sensitive about his belief and the truth of life. Hence, to get himself unrestricted, he neither steps into the metaphysical logic of the sources of goodness and evil nor does he concentrate on the following philosophical question: wherefrom does the logic of placing an act into the classification of good and bad come from? In sum, he accepts the existential truth that the effort for goodness begets evil in equal measure.

Consequently, Dr Jekyll begins to live a dual life, conceding that he has two ways to live: either live like a hypocrite or dissipate his inner turmoil because the infinite victory over resident evil is indistinct. It is unfortunate that as he deepens his effort for the good, the strength of evil gets increased as well, paving the way for more mess. Therefore, he takes a different path: accepts evil as a reality, and formulates a serum which, on drinking, enables evil in him to take the shape of Mr Hyde, whose glimpse ingrains aversion in everyone, who sees him. However, after the serum’s effects lessen, he becomes Dr Jekyll once again.

According to Hegal, in ancient Egypt, the human being was more conscious of the ongoing fallout between virtue and vice, therefore, the Egyptians, while giving precedence to their elevated consciousness, sculpted it in the statue of a reclining sphinx (Abul Hol), the mythical creature with a head of a human and the body of a lion. Hegal says that the sphinx is the symbol of a human being’s inception from the brute beast who, despite his efforts, is not succeeding to come off; so at the moment, the sphinx was both a human being and a beast, and no one was intelligent enough to guess which of them is overpowering.

Great philosopher Spinoza says that every human body is part of God, and every human thought is part of divinity. Before moving ahead, we should stay for a while, as in a hurry, we may mix up our humble intellect with the infinite will of God, on which, the whole system of the universe is in motion, not on individual wishes.

While Aristotle says that the sole purpose of human beings coming to this world is to be happy. All right, then what is happiness? Is it momentary or attained after continuing good efforts in the fight against evil? Maybe out of both. It is a reality that the absolute triumph of human beings over evil is not possible, but by using truth, knowledge and goodness, he keeps inflicting deep injuries on his bestiality and ignorance. And, this battle with himself goes on till his last breath. In David Mackay’s opinion, “The great battles of life are fought daily in the hidden corners of the soul. It is, therefore, significant that one must develop one’s intellect to be reflective and foreseeing in times of inner battles.”

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