Sartre and Evil: Guidelines for a Struggle

By Haim Gordon; Rivca Gordon | Go to book overview

13
Passivity and the Distortion of Truth and Knowledge

Through many choices, the passively active person supports and embraces Evil. While describing the choice of black pride and pathos, we discovered many instances in which persons who embrace and nurture a black pride and wrap themselves in pathos distort knowledge and truth. Specifically, we briefly indicated how Gustave Flaubert's choice of a passively active existence could not have succeeded in developing a black pride if he had not developed a distorted manner of relating to knowledge and to truth. The same seems true of Elie Wiesel's black pride in relation to the Holocaust, of the United States government's manner of developing a black pride in relation to Vietnam, and of many other supporters or performers of evil. Yet when focusing on black pride and on pathos, we did not indicate precisely how passivity is linked directly to the distortion of truth and knowledge. Nor did we show how such a distortion allows the passively active person to support and to embrace Evil.

Presumably, finding an answer to the problem seems easy. As Plato repeatedly taught, truth and knowledge are recognized as worthy in themselves, as necessary for the Good, hence any person who deliberately distorts them must be a supporter of Evil, or an evildoer, or both. However, the passively active person -- especially in bourgeois society, and in our post-modern corporate capitalist society -- does not live in accordance with the assumptions that were at the basis of the Greek polis, which, according to Plato, require personal involvement in the political realm. Nor do the passively active person or bourgeois society follow Plato and encourage respect for things that are worthy in themselves. It is therefore

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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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