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9780199915477

Evil A History

  • ISBN 13:

    9780199915477

  • ISBN 10:

    0199915474

  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 05/14/2019
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

Note: Not guaranteed to come with supplemental materials (access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.)

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Summary

The code of conduct for a leading tech company famously says "Don't Be Evil." But what exactly is evil? Is it just badness by another name--the shadow side of good? Or is it something more substantive--a malevolent force or power at work in the universe? These are some of the ontological questions that philosophers have grappled with for centuries. But evil also raises perplexing epistemic and psychological questions. Can we really know evil? Does a victim know evil differently than a perpetrator or witness? What motivates evil-doers? Satan's rebellion, Iago's machinations, and Stalin's genocides may be hard to understand in terms of ordinary reasons, intentions, beliefs, and desires. But what about the more "banal" evils performed by technocrats in a collective: how do we make sense of Adolf Eichmann's self-conception as just an effective bureaucrat deserving of a promotion?

Evil: A History collects thirteen essays that tell the story of evil in western thought, starting with its origins in ancient Hebrew wisdom literature and classical Greek drama all the way to Darwinism and Holocaust theory. Thirteen interspersed reflections contextualize philosophical developments by looking at evil through the eyes of animals, poets, mystics, witches, librettists, film directors, and even a tech product manager.

Evil: A History will enlighten readers about one of the most alluring and difficult topics in philosophy and intellectual life, and will challenge their assumptions about the very nature of evil.

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