Contemplating Evil


  • Mikel Burley University of Leeds


20th century philosophy, Wittgenstein Ludwig, evil, Phillips D.Z., contemplative philosophy, religion, ethics


Via a discussion of various ways in which putative descriptions or explanations can be deemed to be morally insensitive, this article investigates the role of “contemplation” in philosophy of religion and ethics, and especially in connection with the “problem of evil.” Focusing on the Wittgenstein-influenced methods of D. Z. Phillips, the question is considered whether a tension obtains between, on the one hand, a “contemplative conception of philosophy,” and on the other hand, the sort of critique of theodicy according to which the theodicist’s attempt to maintain a contemplative stance with respect to evil and suffering is morally corrupt.

Author Biography

Mikel Burley, University of Leeds

Mikel Burley is Lecturer in Religion and Philosophy at the University of Leeds. His publications include Contemplating Religious Forms of Life: Wittgenstein and D. Z. Phillips (Continuum, 2012) and Language, Ethics and Animal Life: Wittgenstein and Beyond (Continuum, 2012; co-edited with Niklas Forsberg and Nora Hämäläinen). His work combines approaches from philosophy, theology and religious studies.


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