Sunday, July 20, 2008

Set book for good people

You are sure you'd never (be able to) commit atrocities? I am not.
[Hannah; sj] Arendt's phrase 'the banality of evil' continues to resonate because genocide has been unleashed around the world and torture and terrorism continue to be common features of our global landscape. We prefer to distance ourselves from such a fundamental truth, seeing the madness of evildoers and senseless violence of tyrants as dispositional characters within their personal makeup. Arendt's analysis was the first to deny this orientation by observing the fluidity with which social forces can prompt normal people to perform horrific acts.
One passage in Philip Zimbardo's book The Lucifer Effect: Understanding how good people turn evil (the title of the German edition, published this month, reads: Der Luzifer-Effekt: Die Macht der Umstände und die Psychologie des Bösen.
Instead of writing a review, I do recommend by following the links above to develop your opinion on your own.
One tip, though: don't miss the offered quotations; afterwards - the more in case you did not happen to hear about the Stanford Prison Experiment - you might like to visit Professor Zimbardo's homepage and afterwards hardly can await Monday morning so that you can hurry to the bookshop round the corner and order the book.

Yes, I am aware of that the effect would almost be the same were my recommendation addressed to the birds which right now are sleeping in the trees. :)
Who'd read such book, anyway?
Some scientists? - Fine.
Those who for almost all their life have been trying (sic!) to understand how (good?) people (get) turn(ed) evil? - Fine.
And who else? - Quite!
Or does anybody think that any leader(s) of any state will make "The Lucifer Effect" a set book for their people, at least for all those who want to join the armed forces?

The Peace of the Night!


  1. It sounds interesting but quite awful!

  2. Yes, Cherrypie, an interesting and (!) awful read. For those who had to live what is being described it was not at all interesting - just awful.

  3. Sean, yes very awful. I couldn't even contemplate trying out such an experiment!