Chapter

Darkness and Silence: Evil and the Western Legacy

John Milbank

in Evil in Contemporary Political Theory

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780748641963
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652860 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748641963.003.0002
Darkness and Silence: Evil and the Western Legacy

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This chapter examines the relationship between religious and secular accounts of value. It challenges the basic assumption that conceptions of value can be effectively articulated within the terms of reference of secular discourse. Secular rationality can manage instrumental comparisons of value very effectively. Treatments of absolute value are quite another matter. The chapter contrasts the richness of theological discussions of evil with the paucity of effective accounts in the secular tradition. It notes that the fate of liberalism, even in the hands of its best exponents, highlights the failure of a secular theory of value. If we cannot do without the term ‘evil’ in our ordinary discourse, the implication is that one has to look beyond secular rationality for a grasp of the importance of human life.

Keywords: value conceptions; secular rationality; human life; theological discussions; secular theory; liberalism

Chapter.  14247 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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