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The Prevalence of Evil

The Prevalence of Evil

(p.193) 11 The Prevalence of Evil
Human Predicaments
John Kekes
University of Chicago Press

The prevalence of evil is an unavoidable problem in our evaluative framework because two of its basic assumptions conflict. One is that human beings are basically disposed toward reason and the good. The other is that living as we think we should depends on curtailing evil. Understanding the Aztecs who were committed to reason and the good and yet committed largescale evil for centuries casts doubt on our assumptions. The Aztecs and numerous others in our own evaluative framework were led to commit largescale evil, while believing that doing so is required by reason and the good, by ideological reasons. Ideologies are dangerous because they are committed to some ideal theory of reason and the good that supposedly justifies whatever furthers the ideological goal. The optimism that pervades our evaluative framework prevents us from understanding that the causes of evil are inherent in human nature.

Keywords:   problem, conflicts, evil, definition, distinctions, Aztecs case, reasons, evaluative framework, ideology, alternative possibilities

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