Graduate Liberal Studies Program

Course Description

GLS 592: Evil and Suffering

Instructor: Patricia Turrisi


GLS 592-005 (Object Fancy) and GLS 592-006 (Technology and the Quality of Life) in Fall 2012, and, GLS 592-TBA (Evil and Suffering) and GLS 592-TBA (Happiness and Well-Being) in Spring 2013, are four topically related courses of 1.5 credits each. They may be taken as stand-alone courses, or in any combination or two, three, or all four courses. Each are cross-listed as PAR 492 course sections as well. The student learning objectives and course requirements differ for GLS 592 graduate sections and undergraduate PAR 492 sections while the course descriptions are the same for graduate and undergraduate sections.

Evil and Suffering

An examination of historical definitions and explanations of evil and the consequences of evil in human suffering, this course will focus on three main interpretations of evil: (1) the notion of evil as privation in the ancient and medieval worlds; (2) the concept of evil as banal, first brought into prominence by Hannah Arendt's report on the trial of Adolf Eichmann, and, (3) the understanding of evil as perversion in religious, moral and popular accounts of evil throughout history. We will contrast these interpretations with a set of explanations of evil that lie in various forms of its denial, including the Stoical turn, Descartes' and Spinoza's denial of theodicy, and two versions of moral relativism, one that relies on Skeptical arguments against the claim what human beings are capable of gaining certain knowledge of good or evil, the other which denies the universality of notions of good or evil.

Last Update: February 29, 2012