In order to explain briefly what good and evil are in
themselves, we shall begin thus:
Some things are in our understanding and not[N1] in
Nature, and so they are also only our own creation, and
their purpose is to understand things distinctly: among
these we include all relations, which have reference to
different things, and these we call Entia Rationis
[things of reason].
Now the question is, whether good and
evil belong to the Entia Rationis or to the Entia
Realia [real things]. But since good and evil are only
relations, it is beyond doubt that they must be placed
among the Entia Rationis; for we never say that
something is good except with reference to something else
which is not so good, or is not so useful to us as some other
thing. Thus we say that a man is bad, only in comparison
with one who is better, or also that an apple is bad, in
comparison with another which is good or better.
[Note N1]: B: not such.
All this could not possibly be said, if that which is better
or good, in comparison with which it [the bad] is so called,
did not exist.
Therefore, when we say that something is good, we
only mean that it conforms well to the general Idea which
we have of such things. But,[N1] as we have already said
before, the things must agree with their particular Ideas,
must be a perfect essence, and not with the
general *[Ideas]*, since in that case they would not exist.
[Note N1]: A: "And therefore"; B: "Nevertheless."
As to confirming what we have just said, the thing is
clear to us; but still, to conclude our remarks, we will add
yet the following proofs:
All things which are in Nature, are either things or
actions. Now good and evil are neither things nor actions.
Therefore good and evil do not exist in Nature.
For, if good and evil are things or actions, then they
must have their definitions. But good and evil (as, for
example, the goodness of Peter and the wickedness of
Judas) have no definitions apart from the essence of Judas
or Peter, because this alone exists in Nature, and they
cannot be defined without their
essence. Therefore, as
above it follows that good and evil are not things or actions
which exist in Nature.