What is Evil?
Traditional conceptions of evil focus on the utter monstrosity of evil actions —
the complete awe and unthinkability of horror.
Called pure or radical evil, this is the sort of evil associated with antagonists or
villains – it is the antithesis of good.
For Hannah Arendt, a German-Jewish philosopher, evil is not always as simple
as an overriding desire to do no good.
Rather, Arendt chooses to focus her discussion of evil on this man: Adolf Eichmann.
Put on trial for numerous horrors, Eichmann was found guilty of crimes against humanity,
especially against the Jewish people, for overseeing the trains that transported people to Nazi death camps.
On May 31, 1962, he was hanged.
Arendt traveled to Jerusalem to cover the Eichmann trial. She expected to encounter
a cold calculating monster, a man who reveled in his malicious deeds.
Instead what she found was something far more shocking. Eichmann was an altogether innocuous
看起来像一个普通的小子 某种意义上说 他有些迂腐 典型的官僚主义者
and seemingly normal little man — in some sense, he was a cliché, a stereotypical bureaucrat,
a sort of sleepwalker in life, a person who refused to comprehend the weight of his crimes.
Eichmann wasn’t afflicted with an overriding sense of maliciousness.
相反 阿特伦发现他不顾他人 从不为他人着想
Instead, what Arendt found was a man that was thoughtless, that never stopped to put himself
in someone else’s shoes, that refused to think from another’s perspective.
She found someone with an unquestioning sense of obligation to authority,
他一生都在追随 渴望被安排 渴望受到领导
who all his life he had been a follower, a person eager to fit in and be led.
He suffered from blind allegiance and a complete self-deception about the morality of his actions.
This made Arendt rethink the concept of evil, for Eichmann wasn’t a demon in any obvious way.
What she encountered was the banality of evil, an everyday sort of evil:
渴望尽到官僚主义者的职责 没有同情心 没有人性
a bureaucrat eager to do his job – one who lacked empathy or perspective.
内心有恶魔 你不必残忍 暴虐 恶毒 而只需要
You don’t need to be cruel, sadistic, or vicious to embody evil — all that a person has to do
盲从别人的命令 对于阿特伦来说 那就是恶魔的定义
is blindly follow the orders of another person. For Arendt that is the banality of evil.
因此 亲爱的观众 如何从毫无主见的顺从中拯救人性？
So, dear viewer, what can be done to save humanity from mindless obedience?