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.
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