The Abuse of Evil: The Corruption of Politics and Religion since 9/11
January 2006, Polity
We are now confronting a clash of mentalities, not a clash of
civilisations. One mentality is drawn to absolutes, moral
certainties, and simplistic dichotomies of good and evil. The other
seriously questions an appeal to absolutes in politics and
criticizes the simplistic division of the world into the forces of
evil and the forces of good.
In The Abuse of Evil Bernstein challenges the claim that without an appeal to absolutes, we lack the grounds for acting decisively in fighting our enemies. The post 9/11 abuse of evil corrupts both democratic politics and religion. The stakes are high in this clash of mentalities in shaping how we think and act in the world today - and in the future.
1. The Clash of Mentalities: The Craving for Absolutes versus Pragmatic Fallibilism.
2. The Anticipations and Legaices of Pragmatic Fallibilism.
3. Moral Certainty and Passionate Commitment.
4. Evil and the Corruption of Democratic Politics.
5. Evil and the Corruption of Religion.
Epilogue: What is to Done?.
- A brilliant critique of the new political language of good and
evil used by the Bush Administration.
- Written by one of America's most highly respected political
- Provides a new theoretical framework to understand the post
- Powerfully and persuasively written.
Nancy Fraser, New School for Social Research
“Building on the conceptual framework advanced in his last
book, Radical Evil, Bernstein argues that what defines the post
9-11 world is an abuse of evil. In the face of the pernicious moral
absolutism of neo-conservatism and the religious right, Bernstein
advances a pragmatic fallibilism that is consistent with both the
fragility and tenacity of democracy. It is the great merit of this
book to show that such a fallibilism is not only continuous with a
religious world-view, but is its enabling condition. If philosophy,
as Hegel insists, is its time comprehended in thought, then
Bernstein gives his readers a philosophical wake-up call to think
about evil in the face of so much unthinking moralism.”
Simon Critchley, New School for Social Research