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Kierkegaard's Analysis of Radical Evil The Intensification of Despair by David A. Roberts

Kierkegaard's Analysis of Radical Evil The Intensification of Despair

Part of the Continuum Studies in Philosophy Series


Kierkegaard's Analysis of Radical Evil The Intensification of Despair by David A. Roberts

For thousands of years philosophers and theologians have grappled with the problem of evil. Traditionally, evil has been seen as a weakness of sorts: the evil person is either ignorant (does not know the wrong being done), or weak-willed (is incapable of doing the right thing). But in the most horrifying acts of evil (the Holocaust, ethnic cleansing, terrorism, serial murder, etc.), the perpetrators are resolute, deliberate, and well aware of the pain they are causing. There has never been a better time to re-open this most difficult of questions, and to inquire whether any helpful resources exist within our intellectual legacy. David Roberts has done just this. In taking up the problem of evil as it is uniquely found in the work of the Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, Roberts has uncovered a framework that at last allows the notion of radical evil to be properly articulated. His book traces the sources of Kierkegaard's conception from its background in the work of Kant and Schelling, and painstakingly details the matrix of issues that evolved into Kierkegaard's own solution. Kierkegaard's psychological understanding of evil is that it arises out of despair - a despair that can become so vehement and ferocious that it lashes out at existence itself. Starting from this recognition, and drawing on Kierkegaard's view of the self, Roberts shows how the despairing self can become strengthened and intensified through a conscious and free choice against the Good. This type of radical evil is neither ignorant nor weak.


'What is most compelling about Kierkegaard's encounter with the problem of evil is that it does not take place primarily upon the conceptual level. One has the sense that Kierkegaard himself was well familiar with the back alleys of the human psyche where the impulse to evil is spawned and nurtured. Roberts convincingly recounts Kierkegaard's groundbreaking encounter with the dread of all dreads -- despair itself. And in this encounter the master psychologist may well have given us the most penetrating analysis of the problem of evil that we yet have. Roberts is clear and precise in his presentation, and writes with a sobriety that befits his subject matter. This is an important book, and deserves a place in any library concerned with issues of ethics and religion.'
Dr. Stephen Tyman, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale

About the Author

Dr David A. Roberts teaches philosophy at John A. Logan College, Carterville, Illinois.

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Book Info

Publication date

15th March 2006


David A. Roberts

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Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd. an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC


208 pages


Philosophy: metaphysics & ontology



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