A Closer Look at Berkowitz's Concept of Evil - Book Report/Review Example

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Leonard Berkowitz is a social psychologist who is known for his studies on human aggression. His area of expertise is in the deeper understanding of how an emotional state, particularly anger…
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A Closer Look at Berkowitzs Concept of Evil
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Download file to see previous pages His books include Aggression: A Social Psychological Analysis (1962) and Aggression: Its Causes, Consequences, and Control (1993). Berkowitz held the position of editor for a series of books called Advances in Experimental Social Psychology from 1962 until 1987. In this article, Berkowitz aims to define what evil is, differentiating it from what is bad or wrong. The article will explain the situational concept of evil, citing the obedience experiment by Milgram. Berkowitz questions Milgram’s experiments for its failure to take into consideration the individual differences in committing evil or immoral actions. Berkowitz also presented the various factors which affects a person’s concept of what is evil. Section 2 Methods Berkowitz tackled Darley’s findings that an individual does evil things not because of his evil personality but because he is caught up in a situation which forces him to do evil. Berkowitz then uses this belief as the basis of his discussion on the concept of evil. In the first part of the article, Berkowitz relates how ambiguous the concept of evil is. While others may describe evil as a terrifying experience, some relate it to something which is immoral. In introducing the concept of what is evil; Berkowitz notes how wide the range of notions of evil is among different societies. Berkowitz presents several factors which influences a person’s perception of what is evil. ...
An example of this is when one might consider harming a baby evil because the babies cannot protect themselves, as compared to a situation where a husband inflicts harm on his wife. However, Berkowitz points out that in the case of the Nazi’s brutality, both adult and children were helpless against their atrocities. Berkowitz goes on further to say that another aspect which affects the judgment of evil is the disparity in the extent of the harm inflicted on the victim and the benefit that the wrongdoer obtains from doing such harm (Berkowitz 252). The illustration used by Berkowitz for this insight is the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Section 3 Impact Berkowitz article exposes the discourse on the concept of evil in the context of the Nazi’s cruelty on the Jews. His explanation goes to the extent that most of the Nazi soldiers who inflicted harm on the Jews were doing so because they were merely obeying orders (Berkowitz 249). This explanation is congruent with Darly’s obedience experiment. Berkowitz article gives suggestions on how Hitler is viewed by people depending on their concept of evil. Whether Hitler is the ultimate epitome of evil is a belief which can be skewed depending on one’s prototype of what is evil. Section 4 Conclusion The concept of evil is very subjective. As Berkowitz points out, it would depend on one’s prototype or what he has believed based on the culture he was accustomed to and his previous experiences. In conclusion, Berkowitz questions the magnitude gap of whether people really care about the extent of the harm done with the gains received from the action. Moreover, as a concluding ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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