“Evil and European Humanism,” Nexus Jubilee Issue (2008).
One of the great puzzles of the West is to understand how culture has been tied to practices of evil. One view is that evil arises from the failure of culture – as if the civilizing forces have not been quite strong enough to overcome the brutish state of nature. Evil is embedded in our nature and the answer to nature is culture. The opposite view is that nature is innocent and that evil is the product of culture itself. Eichman tells us that he was a follower of Kant; Hitler enjoyed Wagner. Which narrative we tell – that of progress or that of fall – depends, I suspect, on when and where we are telling it.
Date of Authorship for this Version
Kahn, Paul W., "Evil and European Humanism" (2008). Faculty Scholarship Series. Paper 319.