Evil: A History

ISBN : 9780199915453

Andrew P. Chignell
424 ページ
140 x 210 mm
Oxford Philosophical Concepts

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.


Andrew P. Chignell
Chapter 1. Evil, Unintelligibility, Radicality: Footnotes to a Correspondence between Hannah Arendt and Karl Jaspers
Andrew P. Chignell
Chapter 2. Kakology: A Study of Some Evil Words
Antonia Ruppel
Chapter 3. Evil in the Hebrew Bible: The Case of the Wisdom Literature
Carol A. Newsom
Reflection: The Early History of Satan: Before the satan Was Evil
Esther Hamori
Reflection: Meat and Evil
Matthew C. Halteman
Chapter 4. Explaining Evil in Plato, Euripedes, and Seneca
Rachana Kamtekar
Chapter 5. Explaining Evil in Late Antiquity: Plotinus and his Critics
Dominic J. O'Meara
Chapter 6. Augustine on Evil
Peter King
Reflection: Hell as a Problem of Evil in Medieval Women Mystics
Clark West
Chapter 7. ... but draw not nigh this tree: Evil in Early Islamic Thought
Nadja Germann
Chapter 8. Evil and Late Medieval Thought
Brian Davies
Reflection: Dante and the Evil of Treachery: Narrative and Philosophy
Eleonore Stump
Reflection: Calvinism and the Demonic in the Divine
Derk Pereboom
Reflection: Feminine Evil and Witchcraft
Sarah Pinnock
Chapter 9. Evils, Privations, and the Early Moderns
Samuel Newlands
Reflection: Is Don Giovanni Evil?
Elaine Sisman
Reflection: Kant's Journey on Evil
George Huxford
Chapter 10. Evil in Classical German Philosophy: Selfhood, Deception, and Despair
Allen Wood
Reflection: Leopardi, Everything is Evil
Silvia De Toffoli
Chapter 11. What Happened to Evil?
Susan Neiman
Chapter 12. Evil, Natural Science, and Animal Suffering
Eric Martin and Eric Watkins
Reflection: Cinematic Evil
Christy Mag Uidhir
Reflection: The Banality of Evil
Jennifer Geddes
Chapter 13. Evil after the Holocaust
Gabriel Motzkin
Reflection: Satanically Great Instigators and Banal Compliers
Avishai Margalit
Reflection: On Google and Not Being Evil
Wesley Chan


Andrew P. Chignell is Professor at Princeton University. He has published articles in early modern philosophy (especially on the work of Immanuel Kant), epistemology and the ethics of belief, aesthetics, and the philosophy of religion. He is currently writing a book on Kantian theories of hope.