Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Philosophy of Evil” as Want to Read:
A Philosophy of Evil
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Philosophy of Evil

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  125 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
Despite the overuse of the word in movies, political speeches, and news reports, “evil” is generally seen as either flagrant rhetoric or else an outdated concept: a medieval holdover with no bearing on our complex everyday reality. In A Philosophy of Evil, however, acclaimed writer/philosopher Lars Svendsen argues that evil remains a concrete moral problem: that we’re all ...more
Paperback, 250 pages
Published April 6th 2010 by Dalkey Archive Press (first published October 19th 2001)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Philosophy of Evil, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Philosophy of Evil

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Bojan Dzodan
Jul 29, 2016 Bojan Dzodan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Jedan ozbiljan filozof ne moze sebi dozvoliti da podlegne propagandi i da navede da je tuzno da na planeti postoje i dalje zajednice u kojima postoji hanibalizam i u kojima vojska jede svoje zarobljenike. U pitanju su kako Svendsen navodi jedno pleme u Africi i Srbi.
Jun 28, 2010 Audrey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy, non-fic
Lars Svendsen has written a very readable, at times fascinating, summary of the philosophical discussions surrounding the concept of evil. Since I spent a large part of my only college philosophy class fighting to stay awake, that's no small compliment. Svendsen, strange for a philosopher, has little patience for philosophies that have no traction in the real world, and perhaps that's why I found him so engaging.

That being said, his heart doesn't seem to be in the first half of the book, coveri
Jun 14, 2016 Ivana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bilo mi je u par navrata zaista fizički loše dok sam je čitala, jer je stašno koliko ljudsko biće može da nanese zla i bola drugom ljudskom biću što iz idealističkih, što iz krajnje sadističkih razloga,a da pritom ne oseća ličnu odgovornost, jer je samo "izvršavao naređenja".
Svi genocidi, masovna ubijanja ljudi, nemaju izgovora i opravdanja za nepreuzimanje lične odgovornosti.
Autor kaže da smo svi mi i zli i dobri. Svi ljudi greše. Čista krivica i čista nedužnost jesu idealizacije izmedju koji
Matt Evans
May 31, 2015 Matt Evans rated it it was amazing
This is far and away one of the best books I’ve ever read on the subject of evil -- real evil. And by “real evil” I mean, simply, evil as I’ve experienced it out in the real world. The book is well reasoned, impassioned, and refreshingly free from hysterical descriptions of what Mr. Svendsen calls “demonic evil”; i.e., evil performed for evil’s sake. Simply put, “demonic evil” doesn’t exist. But real evil -- instrumental evil, idealistic evil, and what Arendt called “stupid” or “banal” evil -- r ...more
Dec 18, 2015 Ursa rated it really liked it
The author sheds some light on the definition of evil and comes up with suggestions on how to deal with it. According to Svedsen, humanity is the root of evil. Every of us is both good and evil. Though the portion of good and evil are varied for different individuals. Only when we come to accept that we're all capable of committing evil acts, that evil is not an external theology, do we stand a chance against it.

Truly, I found his theories fascinating and thought-provoking. I won't pretend that
Aug 30, 2014 Ivan rated it it was amazing
This is the first time I read a book similar theme and I must admit that Svendsen thrilled me. Although the book deals with the philosophical/moral/religious complicated subject, evil, it's very interesting and simply written. The book has great answers on questions: Why people do evil act? From where evil comes and are we all evil? Whether, under certain circumstances, we can do things that SS officers were doing? Particular emphasis is placed on religions which are trying to defend the almight ...more
Aug 24, 2010 Alexander rated it really liked it
Shelves: evil
Very accessible read. Svendsen treats the subject action, side stepping arguments of evil as ontological conditions. He does an interesting job of juxtaposing choice/free will against both theological and scientific explanations of evil. Worth reading!
Jacob Wren
I think it's so strange how, in the opening chapter, he contradicts religious arguments by saying they're not rational. Why on earth should we expect religious arguments to be rational.
Jan 31, 2016 Outmind rated it it was amazing

Draws on some interesting points and provides a multi faceted portrayal of the problem of evil. I just wish that a bit more emphasis was put on the concept of evil from ignorance.
Troy Mattila
Troy Mattila rated it it was ok
Oct 11, 2014
Blagoje rated it really liked it
Sep 05, 2012
Stian rated it really liked it
Dec 26, 2014
Morticia rated it really liked it
Aug 17, 2014
Amanda rated it really liked it
Nov 23, 2014
Ramonzter Buagas
Ramonzter Buagas rated it it was amazing
May 19, 2013
Stsh rated it really liked it
Aug 05, 2014
Megan Catherine
Megan Catherine rated it it was amazing
Feb 26, 2012
J.A.J. rated it really liked it
Nov 17, 2013
Karina Petersen
Karina Petersen rated it liked it
Jun 03, 2016
Tyler Malone
Tyler Malone rated it really liked it
Feb 05, 2012
Maja rated it really liked it
Aug 29, 2012
Martin Philipson
Martin Philipson rated it liked it
Oct 19, 2013
Al rated it really liked it
Apr 24, 2013
Lu Andreas
Lu Andreas rated it it was amazing
Oct 29, 2011
Helene rated it it was amazing
Oct 28, 2012
Guillaume rated it liked it
Jan 08, 2013
Jazz Avalon
Jazz Avalon rated it it was amazing
Mar 07, 2013
Aleksandra Keljević
Aleksandra Keljević rated it really liked it
Jun 21, 2016
Janice rated it it was amazing
Jul 06, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • What Ever Happened to Modernism?
  • Melancholy
  • Through the Night
  • Barley Patch
  • Best European Fiction 2010
  • The New Humanists: Science at the Edge
  • The Planetarium
  • Notes on the Death of Culture: Essays on Spectacle and Society
  • On Truth and Untruth: Selected Writings
  • The Inquisitory
  • Sources of the Western Tradition: From the Renaissance to the Present
  • The Conversions
  • With the Animals
  • Chromos
  • Readings in Ancient Greek Philosophy: From Thales to Aristotle
  • Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down
  • Against Health: How Health Became the New Morality (Biopolitics: Medicine, Technoscience, and Health in the Twenty-first Century) (Biopolitics Series)
  • The Poetry of Thought: From Hellenism to Celan
Lars Fredrik Händler Svendsen is a Norwegian author and philosopher who is professor at the University of Bergen. He has published several books translated into 24 languages. He is also engaged as project manager in the think tank Civita. In 2008 he was awarded the Meltzer Prize for outstanding research, and in 2010 he was awarded the prisoners' Testament.
More about Lars Fr. H. Svendsen...

Share This Book