HomeΦιλοσοφια: International Journal of Philosophyvol. 36 no. 1 (2007)

The Dialects of Ire (Goodness) and Ibi (Evilness): An African Understanding of the Philosophical Problem of Evil

Ebunoluwa O. Oduwole

Discipline: Philosophy



The age-old philosophical problem of evil assumes a dialectical explanation in the Yoruba thought system. The Africans, as in the case of the Yoruba, affirm the coexistence of Ibi (evilness) and Ire (goodness) in the world without any contradiction. In African theodicy there exists ministers or deities that include such deities as Orisa-nla, who does as he chooses and is responsible for such phenomena as albinos and hunchbacks. He serves in the theocratic government of the Supreme Being, Olodumare. This theocratic hierarchy shows how the Yoruba consequently react to the problem of evil and how it is consistent with the concept of God. Selected excerpts from the Ifa literary corpus show the Yoruba belief that good cannot exist in the world without evil, and vice versa.