Final Thoughts

  • Daryl Koehn


When i began this book, i thought i would be able to synthesize a single, all-inclusive definition of evil, specifying its genus and listing and ranking its species. Having thought about the subject for several years, I now believe that this hope was misplaced. Specifying the genus of evil is possible because the different expressions of evil share one or more attrib- utes. If there were no shared essence, we could not distinguish evil from other topics and could not speak sensibly about it. When we spoke of “evil,” we might be referring to “chocolate” or “clothes hanger.” There must be, therefore, some invariable, core meaning of evil. However, it does not follow that we can specify all the manifestations of evil. As we have seen, evil expresses itself in a remarkable variety of ways. It may appear as a desire to escape boredom, to gain respect, or to save other people; as the social repression of the self, hubristic piety, or unconscious sin. It appears as if evil has as many forms of expression as there are individuals in the world.


Death Penalty Natural Order Moral Duty Moral Order Human Desire 
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© Daryl Koehn 2005

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  • Daryl Koehn

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