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The evil of banality : on the life and death importance of thinking

Author: Elizabeth Kamarck Minnich
Publisher: Lanham, Maryland : Rowman & Littlefield, [2017]
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
Asking, How could they do it? about the many ordinary people who have been perpetrators and those who resist extensive evils - genocide, human trafficking, endemic sexualized violations of females, economic exploitation -- the book delves into historic, contemporary, national, and international examples. The author, a moral philosopher, draws also on literature, psychology, economics, journalism, pop culture.
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Additional Physical Format: Online version:
Minnich, Elizabeth Kamarck.
Evil of banality.
Lanham : Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2016
(DLC) 2016045274
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Elizabeth Kamarck Minnich
ISBN: 9781442275959 1442275952 9781442276307 1442276304
OCLC Number: 953708628
Description: xii, 243 pages ; 23 cm
Contents: Part 1. Thinking the unthinkable : --
Truth and fiction : Camus' The plague --
Thinking about not-thinking --
Changing minds--; Escaping explanations, excuses --
Meaning, truth, rationality, knowledge, thinking --
Romanticizing evil --
Intensive evil, extensive evil --
The ordinary for good and ill --
Part 2. Goodness : what is to be done? : --
Philip Hallie : it takes a village --
Preparing for extensive goodness --
Looking for good beyond the village --
The banality of goodness? --
Part 3. Fertile grounds for extensive evil : --
Seeding prepared ground --
Large-scale enclosures : meaning systems --
Physical enclosures of bodies, minds --
Laying out the strands --
Afterword : Teaching thinking
Responsibility: Elizabeth K. Minnich.

Abstract:

Asking, How could they do it? about the many ordinary people who have been perpetrators and those who resist extensive evils - genocide, human trafficking, endemic sexualized violations of females, economic exploitation -- the book delves into historic, contemporary, national, and international examples. The author, a moral philosopher, draws also on literature, psychology, economics, journalism, pop culture. Reversing Arendt's banality of evil, she finds that mind-deadening banality, thoughtless conventionality, ambition, greed, status-seeking enable the evil of banality.

"How is it possible to murder a million people one by one? Hatred, fear, madness of one or many people cannot explain it. No one can be so possessed for the months, even years, required for genocides, slavery, deadly economic exploitation, sexual trafficking of children. In The Evil of Banality, Elizabeth Minnich argues for a tragic yet hopeful explanation. "Extensive evil," her term for systematic horrific harm-doing, is actually carried out, not by psychopaths, but by people like your quiet next door neighbor, your ambitious colleagues. There simply are not enough moral monsters for extensive evil, nor enough saints for extensive good. In periods of extensive evil, people little different from you and me do its work for no more than a better job, a raise, the house of the family "disappeared" last week. So how can there be hope? The seeds of such evils are right there in our ordinary lives. They are neither mysterious nor demonic. If we avoid romanticizing and so protecting ourselves from responsibility for the worst and the best of which humans are capable, we can prepare to say no to extensive evil -- to act accurately, together, and above all in time, before great harm-doing has become the daily work of 'normal' people." -- Publisher's description

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"The Evil of Banality is a subtle, original contribution to a literature that attempts to make sense of people's evil-doings. The book approaches its main question, which it sets as guiding a Read more...

 
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