Understanding Evil: Lessons from Bosnia

By Keith Doubt | Go to book overview

8. POSTMODERNISM’S RELATION TO EVIL

By glorifying and blessing himself as his own creator, he com-
mits the lie against being, yea, he wants to raise it, the lie, to rule
over being—for truth shall no longer be what he experiences as
such, but what he ordains as such.

—Martin Buber

When addressing the significance of postmodernism, it is helpful to keep in mind that the founders of postmodernism—Michel Foucault, Jean-Francois Lyotard, and Jacques Derrida—are all admirers of the ancient Sophists. Foucault, for instance, identifies positively with Callicles in the Gorgias and Thrasymachus in the Republic. He resents the “reassuring dialectic” that Socrates employs to refute his ancient friends, and it is as if Foucault believes that, if he were to encounter Socrates today, he (unlike his ancient friends) would remain firm in his antipathy toward Platonic philosophy and defense of sophistry. Postmodernism is the serious revival and unabashed celebration of the Sophists’ overturning of ancient philosophy.

With the publication of A Journey to the Rivers: Justice for Serbia, Peter Handke speaks about evil from a postmodern perspective. Shortly

An earlier version of this chapter appeared as “O nepravdi postmodernism: Peter Handke o Srbiji i lecija iz Bosne” in Novi Izraz and then in Sociology after Bosnia and Kosovo: Recovering Justice.

-65-

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Understanding Evil: Lessons from Bosnia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Part 1- Witnessing Evil 1
  • 1- Evil as Action 3
  • 2- Evil’s Direction 8
  • 3- Evil’s Reason 16
  • 4- Evil’s Vanity 25
  • 5- Rape as Evil 35
  • 6- Evil’s Agency 39
  • 7- Evil’s Disfigurement of Language 52
  • Part 2- Understanding Evil 63
  • 8- Postmodernism’s Relation to Evil 65
  • 9- Psychologizing Evil 80
  • 10- Ritualizing Evil 91
  • 11- Theorizing Evil with Socratic Nativeté 107
  • 12- Sociocide: a New Paradigm for Evil 119
  • References 139
  • Index 147
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