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Course Description

Why is there so much evil in the world? Where does it come from? Is all suffering evil? Is all evil not merely unfortunate but unjust? Why is it so common to treat our intellectual opponents as evil rather than innocently mistaken? This class will survey answers to these questions drawn from literary, psychological, sociological, theological, and visual depictions of evil. Some of the thinkers we will consider claim that evil is a disposition, others that it is objectively rooted in the world, still others that it is nothing but an illusion. Some treat it as a property of human will or character, others as a consequence of nature, others as resulting from society itself. In tracking these issues, we will examine some radical historical shifts. Where evil was once seen as emanating from a perverse individual will, now it is often seen as stemming from systemic or structural sources that range beyond individuals. And where evil was once seen as posing a problem for God (why would God allow evil to exist?), it has now become a question for society (why does society cause and allow evil?).

This is an in-person course that follows the published schedule of course meetings and requires attendance at all sessions. Tufts courses are designed to provide high-quality and interactive courses to Tufts and visiting students. For more information about course policies and expectations, please visit

Basic Enrollment Requirements: Unofficial Transcript - Bachelor's or progress towards a Bachelor’s Degree + 3.0 GPA.

Refund Policy: The refund policy for Courses at Tufts offerings is dependent on the offering type: whether the offering is a course, workshop or short course, or in-demand offering. Please refer to the section details to confirm the type of offering as well as any exceptions to the standard refund policy. The refund policies for each offering type are viewable here:

Remission Eligible: Yes; first day of term; all university policies apply.

Affiliated With:

School of Arts & Sciences