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Simon Wiesenthal Lecture
Zygmunt Bauman: A natural history of the evil

Thursday, 22. March 2012, 18:30

Dachfoyer des Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchivs, Minoritenplatz 1, 1010 Wien


In the 36.525 days of the twentieth century, between 100 and 160 million civilians lost their lives at hand of mass-murder, slaughter and massacres – that is an average of more than 3.000 innocent deaths per day. The pace has not slackened in the new millennium: statistically speaking, September 11 was an ordinary day.

In his lecture, Zygmunt Bauman will outline and analyse the efforts made to solve the mystery that more perhaps than any other keeps ethical philosophers awake at night: the mystery of unde malum (Whence the Evil?) and, more specifically and yet more urgently, of “How do good people turn evil?”. The latter is, succinctly put, the secret of the mysterious transmogrification of caring family people and friendly and benevolent neighbours into monsters.

Zygmunt Bauman(*1925) is a Polish-born sociologist. After having left Poland in the aftermath of the anti-Semitic campaign of 1968, he became professor of sociology at the University of Leeds, England and has since held professorships at numerous other universities, among them Berkeley, Yale, St. John’s and Copenhagen. Bauman has become best known for his analyses of the links between modernity and the Holocaust, the ambivalence of modernity, postmodernity and consumerism.

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