Good and Evil

Course Code: HUMA 3005

Academic Year: 2023-2024

Over the past century, it has become increasingly evident that there are still indisputable evils in the world: greed, corruption, violence, war, ethnic conflict, mass-murder, and the destruction of the environment, just to name a few. There have also been efforts to resist these evils with actions and initiatives that are considered "good." But is speaking about "good and evil" too simplistic, especially when discussing complex social, political, and economic issues? Or does it make sense to still use these terms and develop more nuanced and thoughtful understandings of them? With these questions in mind, we will explore conceptions of good and evil through various philosophical, religious, literary, and social-scientific writings. We will study contemporary issues concerning psychopathology, war, terrorism, genocide, and malevolent institutions. We will relate these issues to understandings of good and evil found in the ancient Greek, Jewish, and Christian traditions, which are the foundation of Western ethical thought. Throughout the course, we will touch upon popular images of evil, such as the "devil," the "sinner," the "witch," the "psychopath," the "Machiavellian," the "Nazi," and the "terrorist." We will also consider images of the good, such as "God," the "hero," the "martyr," the "saint," the "freedom fighter," the "whistle blower," and the "Good Samaritan." The aim of this course is to encourage students to think critically about what it means to be an ethically responsible human being and world-citizen in the 21st century.Category and Level: Arts & Humanities, Upper LevelRestrictions: NoneNote: Students benefit from taking a lower level course in the Arts and Humanities category prior to enrolling in this upper level course.