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The Nature of Evil Hardcover – February 24, 2005

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (February 24, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1403968942
  • ISBN-13: 978-1403968944
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,921,473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Taking a kind of Nietzschean-Buddhist approach to ethics, Koehn argues that evil results from a single source: "human suffering caused by our lack of self-knowledge"—with violence, malice and vice as evil's most visible symptoms. Executive director of the Center for Business Ethics and a chaired professor at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Koehn (Rethinking Feminist Ethics) illustrates categories of evil-fostering self-delusion with a variety of dense but lucid readings from literature, including chapters devoted to "Evil as Flight from Narcissistic Boredom" (The Talented Mr. Ripley) and "Evil as Losing the Ability to Act" (Klaus Mann's novel Mephisto). The book's main draw is chapter eight's 30-odd pages, "Evil as Fanatical Impiety," which take September 11, Oklahoma City and other horrific events as extreme instances of fanaticism. For Koehn, fanaticism is an unhealthy attachment to an idea or cause that takes one away from knowledge of the self and toward some ultimate, unrealizable idealization of moral or civic life. The chapter centers on Plato's dialogue Euthyphro; the ideology of its eponymous main character bears more than a passing resemblance to that of a young jihadi. For Koehn, understanding "what is holy or just" begins only in "the moment we relinquish our certainty." It's a familiar notion, but this nicely engaged set of readings gives it fresh grounding. (Apr. 16)
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"Evil is a palpable destructive force in our lives. With precision and energy Daryl Koehn unpacks this phenomenon and offers us a shockingly straightforward thesis. Evil, all human suffering, is caused by our narcissistic preoccupation with self and our failure to understand who we are and what we want and need. Koehn claims that we are both the source and victim of our own suffering. This is a must read for every student of the human condition."--Al Gini, Associate Editor, Business Ethics Quarterly, and author of The Importance of Being Lazy

"For Koehn, understanding 'what is holy or just' begins only in 'the moment we relinquish our certainty.' It's a familiar notion, but this nicely engaged set of readings gives it fresh grounding." --Publishers Weekly

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Larent Sabina on July 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I have always believed in being a good person, but the mechanics of goodness have always eluded me. There are several theories on what is right, in action and in thought, but most are contradictory and ambiguous. The Nature of Evil is a philosophical book of literary criticism that feels at times like a self-help reference.

It explores evil through the works of fiction, by bringing the reader to the level of the characters, each experience becomes real, the author brings a new interpretation of old works, each containing a different view of evil. A way to recognize the forms that evil takes and how to prevent it through example.

This is a book for anyone whit an inquiring mind who wants to take a different look at his belief system, it advocates no religion, only the perfecting of self through understanding what evil is, an ambiguous concept that Daryl Kohen clarifies by showing us what it isn't.

Perfect for those who want to lead a good life, but aren't sure how because the motivation books are too insubstantial to give real meaning.
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