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Book Cover
PRINTED BOOKS
Author Neiman, Susan.

Title Evil in modern thought : an alternative history of philosophy / Susan Neiman.

Published Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, 2002.

Copies

Location Call No. Status
 UniM Bail  170 NEIM    AVAILABLE
 UniM Southbank  170 Nei    AVAILABLE
 UniM Bail  170 NEIM    AVAILABLE
Physical description xii, 358 pages ; 24 cm
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references.
Contents Chapter 1 Fire from Heaven 14 -- God's Advocates: Leibniz and Pope 18 -- Newton of the Mind: Jean-Jacques Rousseau 36 -- Divided Wisdom: Immanuel Kant 57 -- Real and Rational: Hegel and Marx 84 -- Chapter 2 Condemning the Architect 113 -- Raw Material: Bayle's Dictionary 116 -- Voltaire's Destinies 128 -- Impotence of Reason: David Hume 148 -- End of the Tunnel: The Marquis de Sade 170 -- Schopenhauer: The World as Tribunal 196 -- Chapter 3 Ends of an Illusion 203 -- Eternal Choices: Nietzsche on Redemption 206 -- On Consolation: Freud vs. Providence 227 -- Chapter 4 Homeless 238 -- Earthquakes: Why Lisbon? 240 -- Mass Murders: Why Auschwitz? 250 -- Losses: Ending Modern Theodicies 258 -- Intentions: Meaning and Malice 267 -- Terror: After September 11 281 -- Remains: Camus, Arendt, Critical Theory, Rawls 288 -- Origins: Sufficient Reason 314.
Summary Evil threatens human reason, for it challenges our hope that the world makes sense. For eighteenth-century Europeans, the Lisbon earthquake was manifest evil. Today we view evil as a matter of human cruelty, and Auschwitz as its extreme incarnation. Examining our understanding of evil from the Inquisition to contemporary terrorism, Susan Neiman explores who we have become in the three centuries that separate us from the early Enlightenment. In the process, she rewrites the history of modern thought and points philosophy back to the questions that originally animated it.
Whether expressed in theological or secular terms, evil poses a problem about the world's intelligibility. It confronts philosophy with fundamental questions: Can there be meaning in a world where innocents suffer? Can belief in divine power or human progress survive a cataloging of evil? Is evil profound or banal? Neiman argues that these questions impelled modern philosophy. Traditional philosophers from Leibniz to Hegel sought to defend the Creator of a world containing evil. Inevitably, their efforts -- combined with those of more literary figures like Pope, Voltaire, and the Marquis de Sade -- eroded belief in God's benevolence, power, and relevance, until Nietzsche claimed He had been murdered. They also yielded the distinction between natural and moral evil that we now take for granted. Neiman turns to consider philosophy's response to the Holocaust as a final moral evil, concluding that two basic stances run through modern thought. One, from Rousseau to Arendt, insists that morality demands we make evil intelligible. The other, from Voltaire to Adorno, insists that morality demands that we don't.
Beautifully written and thoroughly engaging, this book tells the history of modern philosophy as an attempt to come to terms with evil. It reintroduces philosophy to anyone interested in questions of life and death, good and evil, suffering and sense.
Subject Good and evil -- History.
Philosophy, Modern.
ISBN 0691096082 (cloth : alk. paper)