An end to evil? Philosophical and political reflections

  • Fred Dallmayr


After a long period of neglect and complacency, the problem of evil has powerfully resurfaced in our time. Two events above all have triggered this resurgence: the atrocities of totalitarianism (summarized under the label of “Auschwitz”) and the debacle of September 11 and its aftermath. Following September 11, a “war on terror” has been unleashed and some writers have advocated an all-out assault on, and military victory over, evil. Taking issue with this proposal, the paper first of all examines themeaning of “evil” as articulated by philosophers and theologians through the centuries. Next, the focus is shifted to a particularly trenchant and innovative formulation which recognizes both the reality of evil and the importance of human freedom: Schelling’s famous treatise of 1809. Following, a review of several important readings of this text (from Heidegger to Richard Bernstein), the paper concludes by pleading in favor of moral pedagogy as an alternative to the agenda of military victory.


Auschwitz Bernstein R. Heidegger M. Human freedom Jonas H. Manichaeism Radical evil Schelling F.W.J. Sufism Theodicy Vedanta Zizek S. 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Notre DameNotre DameUSA

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