Evil: A Critical Primer begins with the claim that evil is a concept that is contextually bound. This means that we should not expect to find shared or similar notions of evil across cultures. Addressing evil in a way that is at once contextually specific and applicable to cross-cultural settings, this primer breaks with moral conceptions of evil by redescribing it within a new framework of dangers and aversions (i.e., things that cause harm and things to avoid). Doing so provides an empirical and heuristic framework as a new starting point for the study of religion, deemphasizing things associated with evil (like the devil, wickedness, or a diabolic will) and focusing instead on attitudes and practices (like rituals of purity and impurity, notions of clean and dirty, or expressions of disgust). Introducing and reflecting on cultural and cognitive aspects of classification, myth, ritual, emotions, and morality, Evil: A Critical Primer argues that our colloquial conception of evil, as related exclusively to the moral domain, is usefully illuminated by attending to historical and cultural context and cross-cultural comparison.
Published: Aug 29, 2023
|Classification and Magical Thinking
|Ritual and Authority
|Myths and Mythmaking