Diabolical Evil – Searching for Satan

Phillip Cole

in The Myth of Evil

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2006 | ISBN: 9780748622009
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671908 | DOI:
Diabolical Evil – Searching for Satan

Show Summary Details


This chapter looks at the character of Satan as an example of an agent who is purely evil, wanting to being about human suffering for its own sake. But it asks how coherent this view can be, even about Satan? It traces the history of the idea of Satan in the Judeo-Christian tradition, agreeing with the account which sees his presents in the Old Testament as a mistranslation of the original texts. Satan appears as a figure in the inter-testamental writings of the tradition in response to specific political and historical events. It goes on to argue that to see Satan as willing evil for its own sake, makes no sense. Indeed the Satan of literature wills evil for the sake of some other goal, such as power. What we can see is that Satan, and the idea of evil itself, fills the explanatory gap we face when we try to explain why people do terrible things, and find that ordinary explanations cannot help. But in doing so, the idea of evil offers the illusion of explanation. The claim that ‘they did it because they were evil’ tells us nothing.

Keywords: Satan; Old Testament; Ideology; Psychology

Chapter.  12420 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.