"Confronting Evil"

Date and Time: 
Fri, 01/03/2019 - 12:00am to Sat, 02/03/2019 - 12:00am
09:00 AM to 05:00 PM

Conference under QIP – Indian Institute of Technology Delhi

1 & 2 March 2019, 9 am to 5 pm

India International Centre, Delhi

Lecture Room I, IIC-Annexe 

There is an urgency today to re-open the question of values, nihilism, and our sense of desirable futures under the heading of “evil”. There are different histories of the concept “evil”, including the religious and the philosophical, and its relation to the opposite, the concept of “the good”. Today, two senses of the term “evil” overlap and resound: “it is bad” and “everything is going wrong” as the planet, the climate, politics, egalitarian structures, and knowledge are in crisis. The first sense of bad/evil/mal refers to that of übelwhich is the evil provoked and inflicted, while the second sense, much more prevalent today, is of the bador schlechtwhich is of the adverse. The expectations we have for ourselves are of catastrophes rather than of progress and accomplishments as can be seen in theoretical movements such as “collapsology” and “accelerationism”. Instead of the dreams of “the good life for all,” we share in the fear of insecurities of jobs, health care, displacement, environmental degradation, and the rise of populist and far-right political groups. We experience the absence of “future” when all we have are probabilistic estimations of the figures of production given by machines. Everything today seems to be made to destroy or to corrupt the very possibility of defining what that could be “humans freed from all domination” (the Marxist producer of his own history). The term “evil” seems to have lost the value of its opposition to “the good” since there is no supposed “good” left for us which is beyond suspicion. Evil now seems to stand in a whole new relation to will (in terms of which Kant conceived of radical evil), thinking (through which Arendt had conceived of the banality of evil) and the meaning of existence. The discourses on value provided by previous religion and philosophy have been displaced or at least transformed by the modern technological determinations of sense which Heidegger called Gestell. Further, the different cultural meanings of the term “evil” are at odds with each other; for example, for Gandhi the notion of “the occident” was evil and he denied that there was any evil in the orient, despite the extremely oppressive caste system in the subcontinent. Such cultural and political deployments of the concept “evil” make it necessary to examine the distinct uses of evil across regions of the world beyond the limitations of the barriers such as the “orient/occident” distinction. Hence, we must revisit, and redefine, this term evil which continues to serve in one way or another to orient ourselves morally and to produce judgments in politics.




Jean-Luc NANCY (Marc-Bloch University, Strasbourg)

Robert BERNASCONI (Penn State University)

Divya DWIVEDI (IIT Delhi)

Laurence JOSEPH (Psychoanalyst, Director, Hermann Psychanalyse collection, Paris)

Shaj MOHAN (Delhi)

Simon TRÜB (University of Freiburg, University of Basel [visiting faculty])

Adam KNOWLES (Drexel University, IIT Delhi [visiting faculty])

Vijay TANKHA (Delhi)


Daniel JAMES SMITH (University of Memphis)


Aarushi PUNIA (IIT Delhi)

J. REGHU (Trivandrum)


Organised by

DivyaDwivedi, Simon Trüb & Adam Knowles


Supported by