Hesperus is Bosphorus

A group blog by philosophers in and from Turkey

Talk on Monday 25 June by Imge Oranli at Bosphorus

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The Inscrutability of Evil in Arendt and Levinas

İmge Oranlı,

Koç University, Department of Philosophy

June 25

15:00 (3pm)

JF 507

Abstract Since the attacks of 9/11, there has been a revival of interest in philosophical studies of evil, which suggest that we are forced to rethink the category of evil as we face acts of terrorism on a global scale. In almost all of these studies, Kant, Arendt and Levinas appear as key thinkers of evil. This paper traces the idea of the inscrutability of evil as a common lens through which we associate the category of evil with the phenomena we identify as evil. This idea finds its first modern formulation in Kant’s theory of radical evil. Although Arendt and Levinas challenge the Kantian framework of evil through their accounts, I argue that they nevertheless presuppose this framework. Regardless of their difference from Kant, my argument stresses that Arendt’s identification of Nazi evil as banal (i.e., without depth) and Levinas’ description of evil as “useless” are both developed in the trajectory of thought facilitated by Kantian philosophy. This trajectory is marked by evil’s non-theological root and its basis in human freedom. My analysis concludes that the idea of the inscrutability of evil is common to all three approaches, yet their accounts of why evil is inscrutable differ considerably.

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Written by sundemirili

June 21, 2018 at 9:34 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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