Chapter

The Glamour of Evil: Dostoyevsky and the Politics of Transgression

John Horton

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/9780748641963.003.0009
The Glamour of Evil: Dostoyevsky and the Politics of Transgression

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This chapter confronts the ambiguity of judgement directly. Even in conventional institutional contexts, the perverse attraction of evil might be very vivid. It highlights an undeniable fascination with the excitement and vitality of the transgressive, the rule-breaker, as recognised by Nietzsche, Freud and their followers. This chapter explores whether it is possible to give a theoretical account of the ‘illusion’ that evil can ever be in our interest. The alternative is to recognise that the fascination with evil not only has deep cultural and psychological roots but may also throw into question the wrongness and undesirability of evil. It draws on Dostoyevsky's analysis of character and motivation to highlight what are, in fact, everyday psychological perils. In the end, ordinariness may be our strongest resource.

Keywords: Nietzsche; Freud; rule-breaker; evil fascination; the wrongness; character analysis; motivation; psychological perils

Chapter.  9064 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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