The Apologetics of Evil: The Case of Iago (Princeton Monographs in Philosophy)
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
This book is a concise philosophical meditation on Iago and the nature of evil, through the exploration of the enduring puzzle found in Shakespeare's Othello. What drives Iago to orchestrate Othello's downfall? Instead of treating Iago's lack of motive as the play's greatest weakness, The Apologetics of Evil shows how this absence of motive is the play's greatest strength. Richard Raatzsch determines that Iago does not seek a particular end or revenge for a discrete wrong; instead, Iago is governed by a passion for intriguing in itself. Raatzsch explains that this passion is a pathological version of ordinary human behavior and that Iago lacks the ability to acknowledge others; what matters most to him is the difference between himself and the rest of the world.
The book opens with a portrait of Iago, and considers the nature and moral significance of the evil that he represents. Raatzsch addresses the boundaries dividing normality and pathology, conceptualizing evil as a pathological form of the good or ordinary. Seen this way, evil is conceptually dependent on the ordinary, and Iago, as a form of moral monster, is a kind of nonbeing. Therefore, his actions might be understood and defended, even if they cannot be justified. In a brief epilogue, Raatzsch argues that literature's presentation of what is monstrous or virtuous can constitute an understanding of these concepts, not merely illustrate them.
before our eyes, and to judge it keenly the concept of iago 37 enough to make it an example.’’7 And should we not find this even easier when we contemplate something that— unlike life itself, of which Montaigne speaks—was expressly made to be seen by the human eye? As far as our topic is concerned, the following remark in chapter 13 of Machiavelli’s The Prince is of interest: ‘‘But men have so little judgement and foresight that they initiate policies that seem attractive, without noticing
just that I get to decide what happens to me, but also that I bring it about, the less room there is for a paternalist to act in his characteristic way. The paternalist must learn that the failure to achieve what he takes to be the objectively best outcome need not be the worst of all disasters, although it still might be undesirable. In all these respects we may know better than the actor himself—but we must let him go his way, in accordance with his need for self-determination, if we do not
things, that it is not an object of moral evaluation, either because it was not so right from the beginning— perhaps the more fundamental form of the extramoral— or because it shows itself eventually to be the kind of thing that eludes the attempt at moral evaluation. Take the phenomenon of self-defense. I have the right to kill a person if I reasonably believe that he represents an acute and serious threat to my life. Self-defense, of course, is subject to evaluation. I will be asked why I did
scriptwriter, the director, and the producer of his world. Whatever happens is his work—insofar as one can talk about ‘‘work’’ in this context. But Iago is not really an artist, who turns everything around him into his raw material. The artist seeks a goal that essentially connects him with others: dissatisfied with what is recognized as art, he seeks a new form of expression, which he wants to be recognized and accepted into the canon. Iago resembles an artist but is no artist; he denies what
older man who is also black and a foreigner? In short, does Iago not scheme too much in the play to be merely perverse? These questions should remind us of the obvious fact that, once we have met Iago, what fixes him in our memory forever is not only—or not primarily—his sadism. What makes him remarkable is something else, which is concealed rather than revealed by the label ‘‘sadist.’’ 12. What makes Iago remarkable is relegated to the edge of our field of vision if we direct our attention to