Radical Evil

Radical Evil : A Philosophical Interrogation

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At present, there is an enormous gulf between the visibility of evil and the paucity of our intellectual resources for coming to grips with it. We have been flooded with images of death camps, terrorist attacks and horrendous human suffering. Yet when we ask what we mean by radical evil and how we are to account for it, we seem to be at a loss for proper responses. Bernstein seeks to discover what we can learn about the meaning of evil and human responsibility. He turns to philosophers such as Kant, who coined the expression 'radical evil', as well as to Hegel and Schelling. He also examines more recent explorations of evil, namely the thinking of Freud and Nietzsche on the moral psychology of evil. Finally, he looks at the way in which three post-Holocaust thinkers - Emmanuel Levinas, Hans Jonas, and Hannah Arendt - have sought to come to grips with evil "after Auschwitz." Bernstein's primary concern throughout this challenging book is to enrich and deepen our understanding of evil in the contemporary world, and to emphasize the vigilance and personal responsibility required for combating it.
"Radical Evil" will be essential reading for students and scholars of philosophy, social and political theory, and religious studies.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 25.4mm | 563g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • notes, bibliography, index
  • 0745629539
  • 9780745629537

Table of contents

PrefaceIntroductionPart I Evil, Will, and FreedomRadical Evil: Kant at War with HimselfHegel: The Healing of the Spirit?Schelling: The Metaphysics of EvilIntermezzoPart II: The Moral Psychology of EvilNietzsche: Beyond Good and Evil?Freud: Psychic Ambivalence and Ineradicable EvilPart III: After Auschwitz: Radical Evil and ResponsibilityPrologueLevinas: Evil and the Temptation of TheodicyJonas: A New Ethic of ResponsibilityArendt: Radical Evil and The Banality of EvilConclusionNotesBibliographyIndex
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Review quote

"Richard Bernstein takes us through the most baffling question of all, the one that in the end defies philosophical understanding, that of evil. The last century put this irresistibly on our agenda, and we cannot avoid it. No-one has the answer, but Bernstein takes us through a number of the most important and insightful thinkers, who can help us in our search. With the admirable clarity and great philosophical sympathy which always characterizes his work, he defines their understanding of evil, and puts them into conversation with each other. One emerges from this work still baffled, but in a much more fruitful way, empowered to go on thinking. This is a striking achievement for a work on this subject. Bernstein has once again pushed the debate forward several steps."
Charles Taylor, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, McGill University

"Richard Bernstein's work represents the best of an American tradition in philosophy, inspired by pragmatism and the analytical requirements of jargon-free clarity and drawing extensively and powerfully on traditions within Continental philosophy. To my ears Bernstein's is a hugely important voice in contemporary philosophical debate - it is sane and humane."

Simon Critchley, Centre for Theoretical Studies, University of Essex
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About Richard J. Bernstein

Richard J. Bernstein is Vera List Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research, New York.
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Rating details

21 ratings
4.23 out of 5 stars
5 48% (10)
4 33% (7)
3 14% (3)
2 5% (1)
1 0% (0)
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