Sunday, September 24, 2006

What's “evil”?:
a revised note to a student of religion

Once again, you're a good stimulation for thought. I'm no expert on evil, so let me know what you think here. You say that "....evil comes from ... experiences [of] fear, dread, uncanny, monstrous, disgust, disorder, unclean, polluted." What is the "comes from"? My sense of what's soberly called "evil" comes from what people normally mean my 'evil' (as indicated lexically or via standard accounts).

Standard accounts of "evil" seem to me to be realistically about vicious absence of Good (a primordiality, like God), rather than objectification of emotionality (born of idiosyncratic proximality, like the body). Evil is commonly thought to come from vicious Absence, so to speak.

Is evil an objectification of fear (as if idiosyncratic projection is primary); or is it a perception (sometimes invalid, but largely perceptual nonetheless, not just projective), derived from real prospects of harm? Is evil an objectification/projection of dread or is it largely perceiving vicious absence of (threat against) hope?

Likewise, it seems to me, evil is born from vicious absence of (or threat against) coherence, vicious threat to belonging, vicious absence of value, or vicious threat to health (i.e., risk of deathly dis-ease). To understand evil is to understand the really threatening conditions of vicious Absence, which is archetypally a result of the absence of "God" (to which a phenomenon of evil is always relativized). "God" is (at least) the integal integrity of—relative to the above—integrated trust, hope, coherence, belonging, value, and health. "God", at least, names a purposeful cohering of highly held values, conveying a sacred sense of our humanity. Evil is born from vicious absence of humanity in real threats to oneself. To find Eichmann "evil" is to construe a vicious absence of humanity in his career.