What is deeper, good or evil? Arendt’s thesis of the banality of evil is an attempt to undermine evil by demystifying it. Her report on Adolf Eichmann’s trial in Jerusalem provoked more controversy than any philosophical work of the 20th century. Bettina Stangneth’s Eichmann Before Jerusalem has reignited international discussion by analyzing thousands of documents, some newly discovered, to show that Eichmann was not a thoughtless man without evil motives: however badly, he thought a good deal about the particularly German anti‐Semitic ideology he promoted. This does not in fact preclude the existence of banal evil or support Arendt’s polemical critics. Using new philosophical frameworks we will examine the variety of forms of evil and what is at stake when evil is banal — and when it is not.
Concept: Susan Neiman, Potsdam
Participants: Jeffrey Andrew Barash, Paris; Omer Bartov, Providence; Jay Bernstein, New York; Michelle-Irène Brudny, Paris; Mary Fulbrook, London; Raimond Gaita, Melbourne; Philip Gourevitch, New York; Avishai Margalit, Jerusalem; David Mikics, Houston; James Ponet, New Haven; Bettina Stangneth, Hamburg; Jessica Stern, Cambridge, Mass.; Willi Winkler, München