Understanding Evil

An Interdisciplinary Approach


Written across the disciplines of law, literature, philosophy, and theology, Understanding Evil: An Interdisciplinary Approach represents wide-ranging approaches to and understandings of “evil” and “wickedness.”
Consisting of three sections – “ Grappling with Evil,” “ Justice, Responsibility, and War” and “ Blame, Murder, and Retributivism,” - all the essays are inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary in focus. Common themes emerge around the dominant narrative movements of grieving, loss, powerlessness, and retribution that have shaped so many political and cultural issues around the world since the fall of 2001. At the same time, the interdisciplinary nature of this collection, together with the divergent views of its chapters, reminds one that, in the end, an inquiry into “evil” and “wickedness” is at its best when it promotes intelligence and compassion, creativity and cooperation.
The thirteen essays are originally presented at and then developed in light of dialogues held at the Third Global Conference on Perspectives on Evil and Human Wickedness, held in March 2002 in Prague.

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Margaret Sönser Breen is Associate Professor of English at the University of Connecticut, where she specialises in the British novel and Gender Studies.
Peter Day specialises in Early Church and Patristic Theology, with an emphasis on the work of Origen of Alexandria. His recent focus has been on universal salvation within Christianity and their influence on Theodicy. He has worked as a part-time lecturer in philosophy at Westminster College in Oxford, has been co-director of an education conference company, co-organiser of an international series of conferences on “evil,” and set up “The Marian Shrines Project,” which aims to produce a comprehensive historical guide to Shrines of “Our Lady” in England and Wales.
Robert N Fisher is the founder of Learning Solutions (http://www.learning-solutions.org) and Inter-Disciplinary.Net (http://www.inter-disciplinary.net). Both bodies are dedicated to encouraging and developing cutting-edge inter- and multi-disciplinary research projects. He is also the Series Editor for the “At the Interface project/Probing the Boundaries” project, which includes this volume. Former head of Theology and Principal Lecturer in Philosophy, Theology, and Theodicy at Westminster College, Oxford, he is also founder of the Global Association for the Study of Persons, a member of the Steering Committee for the International Forum on Persons, and on the advisory board for Essays in Philosophy, and the Commutarian Forum. Finally, he has published two books, Becoming Persons, and Persons, Suffering, and Death.
Neil Forsyth is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. He is the author of The Old Enemy: Satan and the Combat Myth (1990), The Satanic Epic (2002), and a new book on Milton. He has also written on other literary topics, from Gilgamesh to D. H. Lawrence, including several essays on Shakespeare films.
John A. Humbach is Professor of Law at Pace University School of Law in White Plains, New York.
Scott Lowe is Professor of Philosophy at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania.
Maria Michela Marzano is a Chargie de Recherche in Philosophy at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris.
Jean Murley is a Ph.D. candidate in English at the City University of New York Graduate School. She is currently writing her dissertation on contemporary American murder narratives.
Ramzi Nasser is a trial attorney with the Federal Defenders of San Diego, California.
John T. Parry teaches civil rights litigation, constitutional law, and criminal law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in Pennsylvania. His primary research interest is the relationship between individual rights and the legal structure for the exercise of state power.
Theodore Seto is Professor at Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, California, where he teaches tax, property, and criminal law. His research interests are diverse, but currently focus primarily on moral theory.
Karen-Margrethe Simonsen is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Aarhus, Denmark. Together with Marianne Ping Huang and Mads Rosendahl Thomsen, she has edited Reinventions of the Novel. History and Aesthetics of a Protean Genre (2002).
Bill Wringe is an instructor of Philosophy in the Department of International Relations at Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey.
”[an] ambitious book … there are so many memorable statements, comments and argument that I recommend it with the caveat, to quote Murley in the book, “There has never been a ‘need’ for evil; there has always been a need to account for it.” in: Metapsychology 2003
Introduction. PART I Grappling with Evil. Neil FORSYTH: Evil and Literature: Grandeur and Nothingness. Theodore SETO: Reframing Evil in Evolutionary and Game Theoretic Terms. Robert N. FISHER: The Catheter of Bilious Hatred. Margaret SÖNSER BREEN: Reading for Constructions of the Unspeakable in Kafka’s Metamorphosis. PART II Justice, Responsibility and War. Peter DAY: Never Just, Always Evil: The View of Warfare in the Writings of the Ante-Nicene Fathers. Bill WRINGE: International Justice, Intervention, and the Prevention of Evil. Scott LOWE: Terrorism and Just War Theory. John T. PARRY: Collective and Individual Responsibility for Acts of Terrorism. PART III Blame, Murder, and Retributivism. Maria Michela MARZANO: Moral Responsibility, Liability, and Perversion: A New Understanding of Wickedness. John A. HUMBACH: The Humane Principle and the Biology of Blame (Evolutionary Origins of the Imperative to Inflict). Ramzi NASSER: Rescuing Kant’s Retributivism. Jean MURLEY: Ordinary Sinners and Moral Aliens: The Murder Narratives of Charles Brockden Brown and Edgar Allan Poe. Karen-Margrethe SIMONSEN: Evilness and Law in Heinrich von Kleist’s Story “Michael Kohlhaas”. Notes Contributors.