5. But, it will be objected, if this seeing and frequenting of the darkness is due to the lack of good, the Soul's evil has its source in that very lack; the darkness will be merely a secondary cause- and at once the Principle of Evil is removed from Matter, is made anterior to Matter.
No: Evil is not in any and every lack; it is in absolute lack. What falls in some degree short of the Good is not Evil; considered in its own kind it might even be perfect, but where there is utter dearth, there we have Essential Evil, void of all share in Good; this is the case with Matter.
Matter has not even existence whereby to have some part in Good: Being is attributed to it by an accident of words: the truth would be that it has Non-Being.
Mere lack brings merely Not-Goodness: Evil demands the absolute lack- though, of course, any very considerable shortcoming makes the ultimate fall possible and is already, in itself, an evil.
In fine we are not to think of Evil as some particular bad thing- injustice, for example, or any other ugly trait- but as a principle distinct from any of the particular forms in which, by the addition of certain elements, it becomes manifest. Thus there may be wickedness in the Soul; the forms this general wickedness is to take will be determined by the environing Matter, by the faculties of the Soul that operate and by the nature of their operation, whether seeing, acting, or merely admitting impression.
But supposing things external to the Soul are to be counted Evil- sickness, poverty and so forth- how can they be referred to the principle we have described?
Well, sickness is excess or defect in the body, which as a material organism rebels against order and measure; ugliness is but matter not mastered by Ideal-Form; poverty consists in our need and lack of goods made necessary to us by our association with Matter whose very nature is to be one long want.
If all this be true, we cannot be, ourselves, the source of Evil, we are not evil in ourselves; Evil was before we came to be; the Evil which holds men down binds them against their will; and for those that have the strength- not found in all men, it is true- there is a deliverance from the evils that have found lodgement in the soul.
In a word since Matter belongs only to the sensible world, vice in men is not the Absolute Evil; not all men are vicious; some overcome vice, some, the better sort, are never attacked by it; and those who master it win by means of that in them which is not material.