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The Symbolism of Evil: The Full Shape of Our Capacity for Moral Responsibility

Marius Daniel Ban


In this article, I examine the discourse around evil from the perspective of philosophical anthropology. Through an analysis of the religious symbolism of evil and an associated quest for a complete study of being, I intend in this article to explore fresh ways of establishing the relation between our rhetorical practices of evil and moral responsibility. I draw on Ricoeur’s work on the primary symbols of evil (stain, sin and guilt), which can be seen as a means for clarifying and extending our understanding of evil and moral responsibility. I employ the concept of “the double intentionality of symbol” to advance an expressive-performative model of speaking about the full shape of moral responsibility. At stake in my paper is the possibility of recognizing the need to valorise subordinate resources of knowledge that might prevent us from studying and responding to the elusive reality of evil in intellectual abstraction. 

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