Jean-Pierre Dupuy
Stanford University

Jean-Pierre Dupuy
Stanford University

"The Problem of Evil
in Literature, Film, and Philosophy"

Stanford University, Building 260, Room 002
Spring Quarter 2009, Monday, 3:15-6:05 pm

Edited by Peter Y. Chou

The Problem of Evil in Literature, Film, and Philosophy
FRENGEN 265 (Units: 3-5), Spring Quarter 2009
Description: Conceptions of evil and its nature and source, distinctions between natural and moral evil, and what belongs to God versus to the human race have undergone transformations reflected in literature and film. Sources include Rousseau's response to the 1755 Lisbon earthquake; Hannah Arendt's interpretation of Auschwitz; Günther Anders' reading of Hiroshima; and current reflections on looming climatic and nuclear disasters. Readings from Rousseau, Kant, Dostoevsky, Arendt, Anders, Jonas, Camus, Ricoeur, Houellebeck, Girard. Films by Lang, Bergman, Losey, Hitchcock.

Peter's Web Links based on FRENGEN 265 Course Description (above)
before receiving syllabus from Professor Dupuy in first class on April 6, 2009:

1755 Lisbon Earthquake
(November 1, 1755, 9:40 am— 9.0 magnitude earthquake followed by tsunami killed 100,000)

Lisbon Earthquake: Voltaire Poem & Rousseau's Response
(Rousseau's Letter to Voltaire Regarding his Poem on Lisbon Earthquake, August 18, 1756)

Evil: The Crime against Humanity
(By Jerome Kohn, Director, Hannah Arendt Center, New School University)

The Hannah Arendt Papers
(Library of Congress, New School University, University of Oldenburg)

Illuminating Evil: Hannah Arendt and Moral History
(By George Cotkin, Modern Intellectual History, 4, 3 (2007), 463-490 PDF)

Auschwitz and Hiroshima: Icons of Our Century
(By David Blumenthal, 2003 revision of 1994 paper)

Book Review: Beyond Auschwitz
(Beyond Auschwitz: Post-Holocaust Jewish Thought in America by Michael L. Morgan, 2001)

From radical to banal evil: Hannah Arendt against the justification of the unjustifiable
(Book review of James Phillips' 2004 book)

Banal Evil and Useless Knowledge: Hannah Arendt and Charlotte Delbo on Evil after the Holocaust
(By Jennifer L. Geddes, Hypatia, 18.1 (2003), 104-115)

Günther Anders: Hiroshima is Everywhere (1951)
(Guenther Anders and his wife Hannah Arendt fled Nazi Germany in 1933 to the U.S.)

Günther Anders: Philosopher, Essayist, 1902-1992
(By Harold Marcuse, UC Santa Barbara)

History after Hiroshima: Günther Anders and the Twentieth Century
(Dissertation Proposal by Jason Dawsey September 2004)

Lisbon Earthquake and the Scientific Turn in Kant's Philosophy
(By Svend Erik Larsen, European Review, Vol. 14, No. 3 (2006), 359-367 PDF)

Susan Neiman, Evil in Modern Thought (2002)
(Evil threatens human reason, for it challenges our hope that the world makes sense.)

Fyodor Dostoevsky, "The Problem of Evil"
(Questions for Philosophical Inquiry on Dostoevsky's Book)

Fyodor Dostoevsky on the Problem of Evil
(from The Brothers Karamazov)

Dostoyevsky Rebellion: Christians and the problem of Evil
(Henry Imler's Blog on Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov Chapter "The Grand Inquisitor")

"It Was Not You..." Dostoevsky's View of Evil
(By Richard Pevear, Introduction to Dostoevsky's novel Demons)

Dostoevsky and evil
(By Joseph Frank, Partisan Review, March 22, 2003; Colloquium on the Problem of Evil, 2002)

Hans Jonas: The Imperative of Responsibility (1979)
("Act so that the effects of your action are compatible with the permanence of genuine human life".)

Hans Jonas, Influential Philosopher, Is Dead at 89
(By Eric Pace, New York Times, Feb. 6, 1993)

An Interview with Professor Hans Jonas
(By Harvey Scodel, Social Research, Summer 2003; Interview: Spring 1990)

Good People in Times of Evil
(Music CD By Jonas Hellborg, November 9, 2000)

Camus and the Problem of Evil
(By Ben Mijuskovic, Sophia, vol. 15, No. 1 (1976), 11-19)

The Infinite Anguish of Free Souls
(By James V. Schall, The University Bookman, Vol. 25, No. 3, Fall 2007)

Paul Ricoeur, Evil: A Challenge to Philosophy and Theology
(1985 Lausanne Lecture on the origin of evil; to think through evil is to think through fallibility)

The Problem of Evil
(By Rudy Scott, March 16, 1999)

Michel Houellebecq
(Lanzarote, by Michel Houellebecq, June 2003)

H. P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life
(By Michel Houellebecq, 2005)

"Separation is another word for evil; it is also another word for deceit."
(Quote from Michel Houellebecq's Atomised)

The Strange Trial of Michel Houellebecq
(By Sophie Masson, The Social Contract, Vol. 14, No. 2, Winter 2003-2004)

The Fascination of Evil
(By Florian Zeller, 2009; Zeller is a sort of Houellebecq lite)

René Girard's The Scapegoat
(Book at

Anthropology of René Girard and Traditional Doctrines of Atonement
(Weaver points to the work of Walter Wink in describing a nonviolence of active resistance to evil.
He sees Girard's interpretation as more of a passive nonresistance)

Rene Girard's & Walter Wink's Religious Critiques of Violence as Radical Communication Ethics
(By Gerald J. Biesecker-Mast, Nov. 20-23, 1997 National Communication Assocation Meeting)

Fritz Lang
(Wikipedia: Life, Career, Goebbels rumor, Filmography, External Links)

They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?— Fritz Lang
("A world of paranoia, fear and evil fills the work of Fritz Lang. His early German films (Dr. Mabuse, Metropolis, M) are subtle, yet striking illustrations of those preoccupations, while later American works (Man Hunt, The Big Heat) are more explosive." — William R. Meyer)

Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927)
(The semi-naked, evil Maria as she sits astride the seven-headed serpent of the Apocalypse, with a chalice of abominations in her hand)

Ingmar Bergman
(Wikipedia: Biography, Career, Influence, Theatrical work, Awards, External Links)

Ingmar Bergman's Fangelse (1949)
(Bergman's sixth film "The Devil's Wanton" concerns battle of good and evil)

Ingmar Bergman: The Darkness Before the Dawn: "Why must we live?"
("I had asked what my own life was, and the answer was: an evil and a thing without meaning.")

Joseph Losey
(Wikipedia: Blacklisting, Collaboration with Harold Pinter, Filmography)

Joseph Losey
(By Dan Callahan, Senses of Cinema; M: David Wayne as killer believes the world is evil
and that he has to do awful things so that he can be punished)

Joseph Losey's Films: The Damned (1963)
(Children of Ice And Darkness! They Are the Lurking Unseen Evil You Dare Not Face Alone!)

Alfred Hitchcock
(Wikipedia: Pre-war British career, Hollywood, Themes, Innovations, TV & books, Filmography)

Alfred Hitchcock: A Brief Biography
(In Hitchcock, evil manifests itself not only in acts of physical violence, but also in the form of psychological, institutionalized and systemic cruelty.)

Hitchcock: Good vs. Evil
(Hitchcock's consistent theme of good vs. evil in Psycho, Strangers on a Train, Dial M for Murder, Rebecca. Hitchcock examines our morals or metaphysics to push our human nature to the limit.))

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