The aim of this module is to introduce students to the philosophical and theological discussion of good and evil. Throughout the course, we will be connecting these philosophical problems to their real-life implications and consequences. First, we will consider popular representations and understandings of good and evil in philosophy and art. We will turn to an analysis of The Book of Job, which, being a thorough theological investigation into the universal theme of unjust human suffering, is often regarded as one of the biblical answers to the problem of evil.
This will be followed by discussing the theological problem of evil – the question of how God can allow so much evil and suffering in the world – as well as attempts at defending the idea of an omnibenevolent and omnipotent God. We will look at an existentialist interpretation of the Book of Job in modernity by the 19th-century Danish philosopher Søren Aabye Kierkegaard. We will then discuss the moral implications of an atheistic, Godless world: can modern moral philosophies have the same normative grounding as divine laws? We will go “beyond good and evil” by consulting Friedrich Nietzsche, discuss how different literary traditions of the absurd respond to the radical violence in the 20th century, and face the banality of evil and the problems it poses to the idea of free will and ethical choice, explored by Hannah Arendt.