Cover image for New demons  rethinking power and evil today
New demons rethinking power and evil today
Publication Information:
Stanford, California : Stanford University Press, 2015.


Physical Description:
1 online resource (413 pages).
Cultural Memory in the Past
General Note:
Includes index.

"First published as I nuovi demoni in March 2012 by Giangiacomo Feltrinelli Editore, Milan, Italy"--T.p. verso.
Local Note:
Electronic reproduction. Ann Arbor, MI : ProQuest, 2015. Available via World Wide Web. Access may be limited to ProQuest affiliated libraries.
Added Author:


Material Type
Shelf Number
Ebook XX(1416866.1) 1

On Order



As long as we care about suffering in the world, says political philosopher Simona Forti, we are compelled to inquire into the question of evil. But is the concept of evil still useful in a postmodern landscape where absolute values have been leveled and relativized by a historicist perspective? Given our current unwillingness to judge others, what signposts remain to guide our ethical behavior?

Surveying the nineteenth- and twentieth-century Western philosophical debates on evil, Forti concludes that it is time to leave behind what she calls "the Dostoevsky paradigm": the dualistic vision of an omnipotent monster pitted against absolute, helpless victims. No longer capable of grasping the normalization of evil in today's world--whose structures of power have been transformed--this paradigm has exhausted its explanatory force.

In its place, Forti offers a different genealogy of the relationship between evil and power, one that finally calls into question power's recurrent link to transgression. At the center of contemporary evil she posits the passive attitude towards rule-following, the need for normalcy, and the desire for obedience nurtured by our contemporary mass democracies. In our times, she contends, evil must be explored in tandem with our stubborn desire to stay alive at all costs as much as with our deep need for recognition: the new modern absolutes. A courageous book, New Demons extends an original, inspiring call to ethical living in a biopolitical age.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Introductionp. 1
Part I Absolute Demons: The Power of Nothingness
1 The Dostoevsky Paradigmp. 15
Stavrogin's Ghostp. 15
What Kant Dared Not Think About: Kant and Schellingp. 19
Demons: Or the Delusion of Freedomp. 30
The Power of Nothingnessp. 50
2 Instincts, Drives, and Their Vicissitudes: Nietzsche and Freudp. 55
Reversals and Wills: Nietzsche for the Manyp. 55
The Interiority of Evil (Nietzsche Continued)p. 64
The Freudian Scandal: The Death Drivep. 69
Beyond Morality and Beyond Pleasure: In the Footsteps of Nietzsche and Freudp. 80
3 Ontological Evil and the Transcendence of Evilp. 89
Malice as a Trait of Being: Heideggerp. 89
Nothing Is Said in Many Waysp. 105
Evil as Excess: Levinasp. 109
The Sacred Aura of the New Radical Evilp. 115
Interlude: Hypermoral Biopolitics
4 Thanatopolitics and Absolute Victimsp. 125
In the Name of Life: Arendt and Foucaultp. 126
The Absolute Victim: Biologization or Moralization?p. 142
Parasites, Souls, and Demonsp. 152
Beings Devoid of Their Own Naturep. 164
Part II Mediocre Demons: Toward a New Paradigm
5 The Legend of the Grand Inquisitor Reinterpreted from Belowp. 183
The Pastoral Power of the Grand Inquisitorp. 183
The Crime of Obedience and the Normality of Evilp. 189
The Antinomy Between Ethics and Life, and Between Ethics and Lawp. 195
6 A Different Genealogy: The Evil of Docilityp. 209
Subjection as a Remedy for Pridep. 209
A Relationship Between Forces: The Nietzsche of a Fewp. 215
Obedience Has Never Been a Virtuep. 218
Goodness as Inner Anarchyp. 231
7 Strategies of Obedience and the Ethos of Freedomp. 237
Power in Itself Is Not Evil (Foucault)p. 237
The Instance of "Pure Obedience": The Government of Menp. 242
The Ethos of Freedomp. 255
Socratic Demonsp. 261
8 Parrhesia Put to the Test: Practices of Dissidence Between Eastern and Western Europep. 267
Socrates in Praguep. 267
The Double Movement of the Heretical Soul (Patocka)p. 273
Shirting the "Front Line": The Revolutionary Power of an Ethosp. 284
"Living in Truth" and the Opposition to Kitschp. 294
9 Poor Devils Who "Worship" Life: Usp. 307
Notesp. 323
Index of Namesp. 383