Elements of a phenomenology of evil and forgiveness

Gerrit Glas

in Trauma, Truth and Reconciliation

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print August 2006 | ISBN: 9780198569435
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754449 | DOI:

Series: International Perspectives in Philosophy & Psychiatry

Elements of a phenomenology of evil and forgiveness

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In this chapter I highlight the topic of trauma, truth, and reconciliation from the perspective of a phenomenology of evil. My basic intuitions are threefold. First, acts of evil have affective, interpersonal, political, and existential components (among others). The power and destructiveness of extreme acts of evil can, nevertheless, not be understood entirely as the sum of what happens in all these spheres. Second, the destructiveness of evil suggests that there is a dynamic at work that manifests itself as denial (in perpetrators) and speechlessness and powerlessness (in victims). Finally, denial and speechlessness have self-perpetuating tendencies that make victims vulnerable to repeating the evil themselves (cf. Card, 2002, p. 214; Card, 2004).

Chapter.  14564 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry

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