Sartre and Evil: Guidelines for a Struggle

By Haim Gordon; Rivca Gordon | Go to book overview

9
Fighting Evil Straightforwardly

Sartre opens his essay Anti-Semite and Jew, which was published immediately after World War II, with the rejection of the broadly accepted approach in French society at that period that anti-Semitism is merely a personal opinion, or an idiosyncratic view. 1 No, he argues, it is wrong to relate to a person who expresses a blatant hatred of Jews on the same level as that of a person who despises artichokes or finds Mondrian's art boring. Anti-Semitism is not a personal taste or opinion. It is a personally destructive way of life sustained by a wholehearted commitment to annihilate the freedom of Jews. All Jews. Hence, Sartre holds, anti-Semitic views cannot and never should be legitimized within a society that respects freedom. In short, anti-Semitism is the expression of an evil way of life -- anti-Semites, he says, are a bunch of hooligans -- and one must never hesitate to fight against this way of life and the Evil that it continually spreads. Straightforwardly. There is no other way.

But to fight an enemy it is wise to learn his or her manner of being-inthe-world, and also the ways such an enemy conducts battle. In a general essay Sartre cannot give much more, since all battles are specific battles. Only in the day-to-day fight against Evil does one learn how to act in particular situations against specific instances of Evil. But Sartre's detailed description of the being-in-the-world of the anti-Semite can indicate how to evade pitfalls while fighting against the Evil of bigotry, prejudice, and discrimination; it may also suggest where such an evildoer may be vulnerable.

-117-

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Sartre and Evil: Guidelines for a Struggle
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Notes xxiii
  • Part I - Intuitively Responding to Evil 1
  • 1 - Evil and Lucidity 3
  • Notes 16
  • 2 - Unmasking Noble Evil 17
  • Notes 31
  • 3 - Bewitching Evil 33
  • Notes 47
  • 4 - Horror and Evil 49
  • Notes 62
  • Part II - The Ontology of Evil 63
  • 5 - Sartre's Ontology of Evil and the Poverty of the Social Sciences 65
  • Notes 77
  • 6 - Evil for Evil's Sake 79
  • Notes 86
  • 7 - The Consciousness of Genet: A Rejection of Fanaticism 87
  • Notes 103
  • 8 - Genet's Redemption from a Life of Evil 105
  • Notes 113
  • Part III - Evil and Society 115
  • 9 - Fighting Evil Straightforwardly 117
  • Notes 127
  • 10 - Sartre's Tone of Moral Indignation 129
  • Notes 140
  • 11 - Seriality versus Education 143
  • Notes 160
  • 12 - Passivity, Black Pride, and Evil 161
  • Notes 180
  • 13 - Passivity and the Distortion of Truth and Knowledge 183
  • Notes 198
  • 14 - Some Problems 199
  • Notes 206
  • Summary 207
  • Appendix 211
  • Selected Bibliography 227
  • Index 231
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