The Nature of Evil

The Nature of Evil

Rüdiger Safranski

"Evil" is not a concept but a name for a multiplicity of threats: barbarism, chaos, entropy, violence and the frightening emptiness of the universe and one's own self. Rüdiger Safranski defines evil as an opportunity for freedom. Risk is not confined to those on society's fringes. Everybody is his own risk factor.

Safranski's book invites us to take part in an adventurous journey to the heart of darkness. The stops on this journey of thought are the great myths: the Fall of Man, Cain and Abel, Prometheus. Antiquity's means of dealing with evil, and those of the Christians. Plato, and Augustine. The containment strategies from Hobbes to Gehlen. The failed projects to improve mankind's lot since the age of enlightenment. The repeated attempts to build the Tower of Babel. The gnostic alternative: refusal to accept a flawed creation. The secet and open attraction of evil in the realm of art, in Greek tragedy, in the works of Sade, Baudelaire or Joseph Conrad. Nietzsche's experiments with nihilism. Hitler, who turned the dark madness of our century into bloody facts.

We do not have the option to simply dispose of evil; we must examine it to find out about our own condition. It remains a constant threat to our faith in the world. Thinking about it also raises questions to which religions once provided answers.

"Rüdiger Safranski is a philosophical essayist of a kind increasingly rare in Germany, and knows how to trace lengthy and complicated trains of thought clearly and grippingly. The reader is invited to take part in an expedition through an intellectual landscape." (Süddeutsche Zeitung)


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The Nature of Evil

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