Understanding Evil

In My Library

Philosopher Claudia Card adds to the current literature on the subject of evil that has caught the attention of scholars over the last decade. While Professor Richard Bernstein tends to focus on the topic of Radical Evil through an analysis of Immanuel Kant and those who followed after him, Card presents an original secular theory of evil that seems to some to be a compromise between classic utilitarianism and Stoic alternatives. Her book entitled The Atrocity Paradigm: A Theory of Evil, presents her conclusion that evil – as opposed to ordinary wrongs – has two principal components. First, evil must relate to a reasonably foreseeable intolerable harm. And second, evil must consist of culpable wrong-doing. Card then goes on to test her theory by applying it to a number of contemporary problems. Within her analysis, Card explores a fascinating question of particular interest to Jews and specifically related to Yom Kippur. Must forgiver and forgiven be reconciled? That is, does a renewal of relations begin automatically once forgiveness is granted to one who appeals for it? Card examines (p. 179 f) the opinions on both sides and answers that it is not automatic; a number of factors must be present before relations may be restored, among them reparations, repentance, and change in character. This is not an easy book to read but for those who make the effort, it is both fascinating and rewarding.


Words to Live By

What lies behind you and what lies ahead of you pales in comparison to what lies inside you.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

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