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The Idea of Evil


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Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations vi Preface viii Introduction 1 1 Kant: The Perversion of Freedom 17 2 Fichte and Schelling: Entangled in Nature 46 3 Hegel: A Wry Theodicy 81 4 Schopenhauer and Nietzsche: Suffering from Meaninglessness 118 5 Levinas: Ethics a l?Outrance 158 6 Adorno: Radical Evil as a Category of the Social 187 Conclusion 212 Bibliography 235 Index 246

About the Author

Peter Dews is Professor of Philosophy at the University ofEssex. He has published widely on 19th and 20th century Europeanthought, with a focus on German Idealism, the Frankfurt School, andrecent French philosophy. He is the author of Logics ofDisintegration (1987, reissued 2006), and The Limits ofDisenchantment (1995). He has also edited and introduced twobooks on the work of Jurgen Habermas: Autonomy andSolidarity: Interviews with Jurgen Habermas (1986) and Habermas: A Critical Reader (Blackwell, 1999).


"At a time when the word 'evil' is being used in blatantly ideological ways, it is more than ever necessary to examine the philosophical history of this elusive concept. The Idea of Evil is a splendidly lucid, erudite and incisive exploration of the concept of evil in an impressive array of thinkers, which never loses sight of the bearing of this investigation on the politics of the present." Terry Eagleton, University of Manchester "For those of us who until today had a certain mistrust in the current fashion for reintroducing the concept of 'Evil' into philosophical discourse, reading the new book by Peter Dews is an intellectual cure and a theoretical adventure. Certainly the best book on the topic I know of." Axel Honneth, J. W. Goethe-Universitat "Can the concept of evil be taken seriously without a resort to religion, and without losing all faith in emancipatory politics? Peter Dews' timely, scrupulous and passionate reading of post-Kantian philosophy aspires to acknowledge that we are what's wrong with the world, but without destroying the hope that we might nevertheless change that world for the better." Stephen Mulhall, University of Oxford

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