On Evil


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Terry Eagleton

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An impassioned argument for the existence of evil from one of the most respected and influential critics of our day

In this witty, accessible study, the prominent Marxist thinker Terry Eagleton launches a surprising defense of the reality of evil, drawing on literary, theological, and psychoanalytic sources to suggest that evil, no mere medieval artifact, is a real phenomenon with palpable force in our contemporary world.

In a book that ranges from St. Augustine to alcoholism, Thomas Aquinas to Thomas Mann, Shakespeare to the Holocaust, Eagleton investigates the frightful plight of those doomed souls who apparently destroy for no reason.  In the process, he poses a set of intriguing questions.  Is evil really a kind of nothingness?  Why should it appear so glamorous and seductive?  Why does goodness seem so boring?  Is it really possible for human beings to delight in destruction for no reason at all?

Terry Eagleton is currently Bailrigg Professor of English Literature at the University of Lancaster, England, and Professor of Cultural Theory at the National University of Ireland, Galway. He lives in Dublin.

“Terry Eagleton’s Reason, Faith, and Revolution attacks the new atheism as a kind of secular counter-fundamentalism… Better than any previous book of its kind.”—James Wood, The New Yorker

"An absorbing, stimulating, awfully entertaining discussion.”--Ray Olson, Booklist

“Highly recommended for anyone interested in the intersection between literature, philosophy, and religion.”--Library Journal


“Jaunty and surprisingly entertaining. . .[Eagleton's] argument is subtle, intricate, provocative and limpidly expressed. . . . A valuable contribution to a debate as old as Adam and Eve and as contemporary as 9/11 and Abu Ghraib.” — John Banville, Irish Times


'A marvellous and enjoyable gallop through the subject.' — David Wilson, Tribune

'Terry Eagleton raises such questions, but never forgets that he is writing about real destruction and real suffering…His criticism of muddled thinking is incisive.' — John Lampen, The Friend

'This is an entertaining and intelligent book.' — Revd Dr Hugh Payment-Pickard, Church Times

"On Evil belongs to the genre of religious psychology, where Eagleton brilliantly relates the ultimate concerns of the theologian with the penultimate concerns of the psychoanalyst. Without the former, the result would be a study of human discontent; without the latter, a retreat into papier-mâché piety. Here, Aquinas meets Freud--enriching our reflections on the nature and manifestations of evil."--Christopher Benson, Christianity Today

"An original, wide-ranging reflection."—Nicholas Lash, The Tablet

“Those who sentimentally indulge humanity do it no favours, argues Eagleton in this brisk, deep and oddly entertaining book about mankind at its very worst.”—The Independent

ISBN: 9780300171259
Publication Date: April 26, 2011
192 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
Reason, Faith, and Revolution

Reflections on the God Debate

Terry Eagleton

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Terry Eagleton

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Terry Eagleton

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