Evil   /   Summer 2000   /    Bibliographic Review

Research on Evil

An Annotated Bibliography

Detail from The Brothers Karamazov murals at Dostoyevskaya Metro Station, Moscow, by Ivan Nikolaev; tothkaroj/Wikimedia Commons.

Most annotated bibliographies begin by noting how vast the literature on a certain subject is and how impossible it would be to present to eager readers a complete picture of the literature available. What is unusual is to claim that this vast array of books falls into fairly discrete subcategories. And yet, this is, to some extent, the case with books on evil. Disciplinary approaches divide the study of evil by the ways in which they define or explain it. Legal studies take on evil as crime. Psychological studies of evil focus on the individuals who have committed evil deeds. Theological approaches deal with evil as sin. Philosophical works take up evil as a problem about whether or not, and how, there can be an all-good, all-powerful God given the extent and kinds of evil in the world today. For the sociologist, evil is studied as, in part or wholly, a result of the social forces at work shaping and misshaping individuals and institutions. History books narrate particular events deemed evil. In every case, though, the subject of evil is seen as intricately connected to the most important questions we face as humans, living our lives and living our lives together.

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