Hesperus is Bosphorus

A group blog by philosophers in and from Turkey

Talk at Bogazici, Imge Oranli (DePaul), “The Augustinian-Kantian Legacy and The Inscrutability of Evil”

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Friday, March 6, 5:30-7:30pm

TB 130 (Anderson Hall)

“The Augustinian-Kantian Legacy and The Inscrutability of Evil”


This paper offers a critical examination of the implications of the Augustinian-Kantian legacy on evil. As to the question of “why the human will turns towards evil?” both Augustine and Kant provide the answer that it cannot be known. Thus, in the Augustinian and the Kantian treatment of moral evil, the ground of evil remains inscrutable. Evil is inscrutable because the source of evil, namely, “free choice of the will,” is understood to be internal to the individual. My consideration of Augustine and Kant’s theories of evil attempts to problematize the presupposed ‘freedom’ of the will in the formation of evil-doing. In light of this problematic, I underscore that the objects of choice are communicated to individuals socially.
In my work, I try to point to the inadequacy of understanding the cause of evil with a model based upon the individual alone; it is not only misleading insofar as the chain of causality almost always extends beyond the individual but quite problematic insofar as, methodologically, it removes us from the prospect of the problem of preventing social evils. Borrowing from Adi Ophir, I deploy the notion of the ‘social production of evil’ in an attempt to question the philosophical assumption that treats evil action as grounded solely in the “freely chosen” action of the individual, and I ask, how free are choices really? I am interested in uncovering the implications of the Augustinian-Kantian legacy on evil because of its contemporary force; globally, we live in a political climate where perpetrators of social evil are continuously rendered inscrutable, as if, the source of their motivations is internal and natural.

Written by markedwardsteen

February 26, 2015 at 3:22 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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