Evil has been perceived by many as that which may cause harm and discomfort, among other unsafe situations. Evil is associated with immoral characters, whereby people who commit it are termed as disobedient to the Supernatural being’s laws (Waetjen, 2017). In the 20th century, the evil perspective was analyzed by many theorists, among them Hannah Arendt. The philosopher was concerned about the unreflective nature of people who undertake matters without considering the majority’s outcome. Unreflective people follow the law in most cases instead of morals. When people follow what the rulers have commanded, evil is evident in the actions and implementations of certain laws (Ncube & Munoriyarwa, 2017). This paper explores Arendt’s reflection on the unthoughtful person being evil. The paper seeks to defend the opinion that being unreflective is evil, and people should be guided by ethics when under pressure from authorities.
When evil is committed, it might affect the doer or the audience that receives the action. Hannah Arendt’s reflection on evil is evident in Eichmann in Jerusalem, a report on the banality of evil that focused on the legal trial of Adolf Eichmann, who had contributed to massive deportations of many European Jews during the regime of Adolf Hitler (Irwin & Johnson, 2010). According to Arendt, Eichmann’s problem was the action of undertaking commands from his senior administrators to deport the Jews to concentration camps when the Jewish Holocaust was underway. Eichmann supported laws that encouraged evil doing in society then.
Arendt’s argument is based on the natural capability to determine what is right or wrong. Even when one is a leader and gets the command to execute orders that can be harmful to society, they have the right to question the authorities. That could be one way of avoiding evil-doing at the expense of losing the trust of respective bosses (Irwin & Johnson, 2010). Eichmann’s shortcoming was to allow evil to prevail by supporting the deportation of Jews, where many resisted and ended up dying. The general outcome, in that case, would be loss of life, and perhaps, Eichmann may be termed as the catalyst in the entire matter. Therefore, according to the report and analysis by Arendt, Eichmann’s thoughtlessness led to evil (Irwin & Johnson, 2010). Unreflective people can cause evil to happen if they do not critically analyze how they would lead to adverse effects.
People who often fail to think critically about their negative effects on others allow evil to occur. Arendt gives another case example of Cartman, who consumes evil unwarily due to his negligence to think about his actions. Cartman was evil because he lacked critical and reflection before executing a specific role (Irwin & Johnson, 2010). The German rule then was characterized by egocentric Nazi people who were led by their racist habits in whatever activity they undertook. The Nazis, which majorly comprised the deep state, army, and other authoritarians, pushed their agendas without considering their impact on the community (Waetjen, 2017). From the text, Cartman recites an evil-centric song that he sees on the television without knowing how harmful they were, especially to the people who demanded equality during those times. Like Eichmann, Cartman was thoughtless because both cannot analyze matters from somebody else’s perspective (Irwin & Johnson, 2010). Therefore, Arendt utilizes the premises mentioned above to conclude that lack of reflectiveness is precisely what gives a chance to emerge evil in the society in that people live.
From Hannah Arendt’s perspective, when one is not reflective on the possible impacts of their actions, they allow evil to prevail. Therefore, it is wise to agree that evil can be caused by thoughtlessness. The opinion is logical because of various moments that are witnessed and the impacts that come later after that (Irwin & Johnson, 2010). For example, if one is comfortable with loud music in residential places at night, that may be contrary to many other tenants who live in the same compound. Making noise to others is that many people will not have a peaceful night due to the obstruction of noise. Considering that everyone has a right to do what they want, some actions are immoral and cause harm to many people (Kodaj, 2016). In that case, the loud music would allow the evil character of the person behind it.
Most of the time, thoughtlessness prevails due to the self-centeredness that people have in society. From Arendt’s point of view, when a possible result seems to benefit the doer, they do not care about the others. In Eichmann’s example, implementing a deportation policy would benefit him by securing the trust of the rulers. However, a few parties benefit while the majority are losing (Ilievski, 2020). In the example of playing loud music at night, the person behind seeks to satisfy their quest for entertainment. They forget that many people have busy schedules and need to rest to resume their activities the following day. Therefore, in the two examples, evil has prevailed because of the effect of discomfort it has created on the audience. One should forgo their desires and satisfy many rather than fulfilling their demands while hurting many people (Joyce, 2018). When evil is evident, people lack peace, motivation in life and harmony. Following ethics and morals are essential if one wants to avoid evil. Ethics and morals can be gotten by relying on religious teaching or doing what one may wish to be done on them.
There has been controversy over Arendt’s work on Eichmann, where most people perceive that she only reinforced points on the banality of evil. However, that is not a key consideration, mind that Arendt was motivated by communicating how evil entered society gradually due to negligence (McClure, 2019). The capacity of evil can prevail and negatively take many generations. First, due to the lust for power, many actions have radically allowed evil to take place. For instance, checking some of the assassinations that happened in the previous American administration can help drive the point of evil (Markley, 2016). The conspiracy to regulate the important resources in countries had led to the vice taking place in many parts of the world.
When people lose their lives due to a conspiracy between greedy people for power, that raises tension in the community and can lead to civil wars that encourage more evil actions. Therefore, to avoid evil from prevailing, there is a need to prevent scenarios such as greed and conspiracy in administrative agencies. When evil occurs, there is no peace of mind, and many people are at risk of having poor delivery of services due to inequality evident in modern society. It is recommendable that people analyze situations even if it means they solely lose for many others to gain.
Ilievski, V. (2020). The “whence” of evil and how the demiurge can alleviate our suffering. Religions, 11(3), 137. Web.
Irwin, W., & Johnson, D. (Eds.). (2010). Introducing philosophy through pop culture. John Wiley & Sons.
Joyce, M. (2018). The vampires of our age deserve 21st-century forms of an ancient evil. Entropic: Electronic Journal of Studies in the Tropics, 17(1), 3-17. Web.
Kodaj, D. (2016). Religious evil: The basic issues. Philosophy Compass, 11(5), 277-286. Web.
Markley, J. (2016). Book review: New views on ancient Judaism: Michael E. Stone, ancient Judaism: New visions and views. The Expository Times, 127(6), 310-310. Web.
McClure, J. (2019). A new trend in securities fraud: Punishing people who do bad things. SSRN Electronic Journal, 3(5), 5-14. Web.
Ncube, L., & Munoriyarwa, A. (2017). See no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil? The press, violence and hooliganism at the ‘Battle of Zimbabwe’. Soccer & Society, 19(5-6), 842-857. Web.
Waetjen, H. (2017). Beware the evil eye: The evil eye in the bible and the ancient world. Postbiblical Israel and early Christianity through late antiquity. Stellenbosch Theological Journal, 3(1), 2-18. Web.