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The Tyger by Blake & The Problem of Evil

A Philosopher VERSUS a poet on the problem of Evil.


Two famous philosophers on the "problem of evil:"

"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?"

— The Epicurean paradox, ~300 BCE

"[God's] power we allow [is] infinite: Whatever he wills is executed: But neither man nor any other animal are happy: Therefore he does not will their happiness. His wisdom is infinite: He is never mistaken in choosing the means to any end: But the course of nature tends not to human or animal felicity: Therefore it is not established for that purpose. Through the whole compass of human knowledge, there are no inferences more certain and infallible than these. In what respect, then, do his benevolence and mercy resemble the benevolence and mercy of men?" - Hume

Below is a poet's take on the "problem of evil."

But first, understand the terror of the tiger. Today as we live protected by guns, walls and all the civilized apparatuses that we have developed, are incapable of understanding the raw terror that tigers have always evoked in humans.

Throughout history, tigers along with boars have been some of man-kinds fiercest predators. Part of civilizing ourselves anthropologically was not merely to protect ourselves from other humans, but to protect ourselves from the viciousness of animals.

As humans civilized the protection of the community by its leaders became ritualized to the point that a king would go on symbolic "hunts." These hunts showcase how the powerful government is protecting its citizenry.

Now that we have escaped the need for that protection, we are safe to ridicule or condemn hunting as a practice.

Understand, when reading this poem, that even in William Blake's time there was a fear of tigers that the majority of those in the west never have to deal with.

The Tyger


Tyger Tyger, burning bright,

In the forests of the night;

What immortal hand or eye,

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies.

Burnt the fire of thine eyes?

On what wings dare he aspire?

What the hand, dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,

Could twist the sinews of thy heart?

And when thy heart began to beat,

What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain,

In what furnace was thy brain?

What the anvil? what dread grasp,

Dare its deadly terrors clasp!

When the stars threw down their spears

And water'd heaven with their tears:

Did he smile his work to see?

Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger Tyger burning bright,

In the forests of the night:

What immortal hand or eye,

Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

The Lamb


Little Lamb who made thee

Dost thou know who made thee

Gave thee life & bid thee feed.

By the stream & o'er the mead;

Gave thee clothing of delight,

Softest clothing wooly bright;

Gave thee such a tender voice,

Making all the vales rejoice!

Little Lamb who made thee

Dost thou know who made thee

Little Lamb I'll tell thee,

Little Lamb I'll tell thee!

He is called by thy name,

For he calls himself a Lamb:

He is meek & he is mild,

He became a little child:

I a child & thou a lamb,

We are called by his name.

Little Lamb God bless thee.

Little Lamb God bless thee.