ON THE ROOTS OF EVIL C. Fred Alford The question raised by Kekes' absorbing book on evil is the one he never answers: Is evil best understood in terms of the extreme acts of a savage few, such as Robespierre and Charles Manson, or do we best approach evil as something we all possess and express to a greater or lesser degree? In other words, is evil out there, or in here? Or perhaps both. If the answer is "both," what connects little evils, such as the hurtful and cutting remark, with big evils, such as cutting someone's head off? Surely, you will say, whatever evil is, evil involves questions of weight and magnitude, so that a cutting remark, no matter how cruel, cannot be truly evil. Perhaps, but even if this is so, the question remains: Does continuity exist between the harm that we inflict in everyday life, and the harm that many would call evil? Does the one who writes about evil construct his or her account so as to allow for this connection, or deny it? There are several possibilities. One could be writing about evil in order to show that it is an illusion,
The Good Society – Penn State University Press
Published: May 21, 2006
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