Evil has long fascinated psychologists, philosophers, novelists and playwrights but remains an incredibly difficult concept to talk about.
On Evil is a compelling and at times disturbing tour of the many faces of evil. What is evil, and what makes people do awful things? If we can explain evil, do we explain it away? Can we imagine the mind of a serial killer, or does such evil defy description? Does evil depend on a contrast with good, as religion tells us, or can there be evil for evil's sake?
Adam Morton argues that any account of evil must help us understand three things: why evil occurs; why evil often arises out of banal or everyday situations; and how we can be seen as evil. Drawing on fascinating examples as diverse as Augustine, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, psychological studies of deviant behaviour and profiles of serial killers, Adam Morton argues that evil occurs when internal, mental barriers against it simply break down. He also introduces us to some nightmare people, such as Adolf Eichmann and Hannibal Lecter, reminding us that understanding their actions as humans brings us closer to understanding evil.
Exciting and thought-provoking, On Evil is essential reading for anyone interested in a topic that attracts and repels us in equal measure.
'This essay elucidates a picture of those who commit "evil" acts as lacking a mental "barrier" to stop them, using examples from recent history and pop-culture treatments from Buffy to Hannibal Lecter … ' - Steven Poole, The Guardian
'It draws on a fascinating array of sources, from St. Augustine to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and brings in examples from contemporary fiction like Hannibal Lecter … ' - The Daily Yomiuri
'Three of the first batch deserve high praise: On Immigration and Refugees, by the great logician (and campaigner for racial equality) Michael Dummett; On Belief, by that master of postmodern paradox, Slavoj Zizek; and On the Internet by Hubert L Dreyfus.' - Boyd Tonkin, The Independent
'This is clearly an important series. I look forward to reading future volumes.' - Frank Kermode, author of Shakespeare's Language
'Both rigorous and accessible.' - Humanist News
'The series looks superb.' - Quentin Skinner
'An excellent and beautiful series.' - Ben Rogers, author of A.J.Ayer: A Life
"Routledge's Thinking in Action series is the theory junkie's answer to the eminently pocketable Penguin 60s series.' - Mute Magazine
'Routledge's new series, Thinking in Action, brings philosophers to our aid.' - The Evening Standard
'A welcome new series by Routledge.' - Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society
Thinking in Action is a major series that takes philosophy to its public. Each book in the series is written by a major international philosopher or thinker, engages with an important contemporary topic, and is clearly and accessibly written. The series informs and sharpens debate on topics as wide ranging as the internet, religion, the problem of immigration and refugees and the way we think about science. Punchy, short, and stimulating, Thinking in Action is an indispensable series of books for anyone who wants to think seriously about major issues confronting us today.
Edited by Simon Critchley, New School University, USA and Richard Kearney, Boston College, USA