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C. A. Campbell and the Problem of Suffering

  • John Collins (a1)


Although C. A. Campbell's account of the problem of suffering is articulated in the context of making out a case for rational Theism, it does not stand or fall with the case for rational Theism. It has independent merit as a sustained effort of reason to grapple with the problem of whether the goodness and omnipotence of God are consistent with the prima facie badness of so much of the suffering that exists in God's world. Campbell's views on suffering are to be found in On Selfhood and Godhood (SG), pp. 287–306, and in an earlier article ‘Reason and the Problem of Suffering’ (RPS), published in Philosophy, x 1935, pp. 154–67. In the first section of what follows, I give a summary of Campbell's line of argument. In the second I offer some critical comments on certain aspects of his treatment.1



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page 307 note 1 This article incorporates material from my M.Phil. thesis ‘A Discussion of the Problem of Evil with special reference to the Writings of Royce, Josiah and Campbell, C. A.’ University of London, 1974).

page 308 note 1 SG, p. 294.

page 309 note 1 SG, p. 298.

page 310 note 1 SG, p. 300.

page 311 note 1 SG, p. 304.

page 311 note 2 SG, p. 304.

page 312 note 1 RPS, pp. 154–5.

page 312 note 2 RPS, p. 167.

page 313 note 1 Philosophy of Religion (London: The English Universities Press Ltd, 1965), p. 311.

page 313 note 2 Speaking of animals, Campbell does not discuss animal pain and suffering, nor the role of such suffering in a world which is a vale of soul-making for human beings.

page 314 note 1 SG, p. 288.

page 314 note 2 RPS, p. 167.

page 315 note 1 RPS, p. 163.

page 315 note 2 RPS, p. 163.

page 315 note 3 Cf. Meynell, Hugo, God and the World (London: SPCK, 1971), p. 76: ‘One might almost say that, in his sufferings, asked a moral question, and got an aesthetic answer. He asked that some reason should be given why he had suffered, but was so overwhelmed with awe and the compulsion to worship by the theophany described at the end of the book (Job 37–40) that he no longer felt inclined to complain.’

page 315 note 4 The Other Dinension (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1972), p. 411.

page 316 note 1 The Redemption’ (A lecture given at the Thomas More Institute, Montreal, September 25, 1958).

page 316 note 2 Cf. The Idea of the Holy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1958), p. 173, where Otto writes: ‘In Job the suffering of the righteous found its significance as the classic and crucial case of the revelation, more immediately actual and in more palpable proximity than any other, of the transcendent mysteriousness and “beyondness” of God. The Cross of Christ, that monogram of the eternal mystery, is its completion.’


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