What is evil? In her book Evil in Modern Thought, the continental philosopher Susan Neiman argued that the origins of philosophy as an academic discipline stem from an ongoing attempt to account for the existence of evil in the world. While civilization has largely moved away from the belief that evil exists as a supernatural, external force with an agency of its own, across media and culture the idea of evil still holds us strangely captive, from the omnipresent lure of the Dark Side in Star Wars to the terror attacks of 9/11.
Is the battle between good and evil an essential part of being human after all, or is it a gross and dangerous error to view existence in such limiting terms?
In this new debate from the Institute of Art and Ideas, Cambridge psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen joins philosopher Rebecca Roache and The Idea of Evil author Peter Dews to investigate the strangeness of evil.
This video was produced by The Institute of Art and Ideas in association with the British Humanist Association and is republished here with permission. It was filmed at HowTheLightGetsIn 2016 alongside 200 other debates and talks, all available for free at IAI TV. Their new podcast, Philosophy for our times, is available here.