Evil as a Distortion of Communication: On Hegel’s account of Evil as Subjectivism

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The early Hegel’s conception of evil draws on a very different paradigm than the current philosophical discourse on evil and therefore challenges received assumptions and can give us fresh impulses. In this paper, I first present Hegel’s conception of evil through a close reading of the Jenaer Realphilosophie’s, prima facie, obscure claim that evil is the ’internal actual, absolute certainty of itself, the pure night of being for itself‘. Hegel discusses evil because he worries how Romanticism and the romantic ideal of authenticity impact the possibility of communication. I then develop the idea that evil is a distortion of communication. I argue that this account of evil helps us to distinguish between evil and mere moral badness. Finally, I address two problems for this account, and discuss its limits.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-20
Number of pages18
JournalDe Ethica
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2018


  • Hegel
  • conception of evil
  • communication
  • distorted communication


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