The Evil Character

Colin McGinn

in Ethics, Evil, and Fiction

Published in print June 1999 | ISBN: 9780198238775
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598005 | DOI:
 The Evil Character

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The Evil Character, e.g. Claggart in Melville's Billy Budd, is one who derives pleasure from other people's pain, and pain from their pleasure. The attraction of Sadism is that, by causing pain, one has the power to subvert the victim's basic principles and values, the ultimate goal being to destroy the victim's will to live. Although envy is often a source of evil, McGinn argues that, from the point of view of folk psychology, an evil disposition is a primitive fact that does not require a special explanation. McGinn considers two possible origins of evil: (1) violent entertainment, and (2) group behaviour. The prevention of evil lies in breaking the hedonic link or the link between pleasure and the evil act.

Keywords: Billy Budd; envy; evil; folk psychology; Melville; pain; pleasure; sadism; values; violence

Chapter.  13176 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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