REVIEWER’S CHOICE May 2021
Everyday Evil: Why Our World is the Way It Is will reach social issues and philosophy readers alike with a multifaceted blend of history and contemporary inspection. It seeks to identify and trace elements of evil, from ancient to modern times.
The account opens with a philosophy-based examination of the definition of good and evil, free will, and responsibility, and justice. It then moves to chapters that examine how social, legal, and physical barriers are erected between groups, societies, and people.
As Everyday Evil considers the evolving history of man’s injustices and attitudes towards others, from women and minority groups to other societies around the world, it provides a foundation for understanding the personification of evil and its identification and nature.
This is especially critical reading in modern times, where opposing groups accuse each other of inherent malicious, evil intent and portray themselves as being on the side of an identified ‘good’ that may actually be questionable in its definition and incarnation.
From Biblical quotes to the examination of precedent in other cultures and history, Monique Layton bases her discussion on solid information and interpretations which often offer intriguing reconsiderations of this background, as in her thoughts about witchcraft: “A French proverb from the thirteenth century, Qui veut noyer son chien l’accuse de la rage (Whoever wants to kill his dog will say it has rabies), encapsulates much of the past attitude towards women: unless they toed the line and did as they were told, any excuse would do to condemn them. The history of witchcraft is a case in point. Witchcraft was closely interwoven into the details of daily life over which people had little control.”
The studious, information-backed reflections and interpretations are well done, supported by research, and offer much food for thought about human interpretations of the physical world and their place in it: “Going beyond our individual interpretation of sensory perceptions, what can we say about the way we understand whole situations, either taken out of context or given a specific slant? We know how easily our attention can be distracted and how unreliable our accounts are.”
The result is highly recommended reading for students of history, sociology, philosophy, and psychology. Everyday Evil also promises to reach beyond these scholarly circles to general-interest readers with a special concern about the interpretation and broad modern applications of evil’s presence in everyday life, offering much food for thought and discussion.
James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief