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Guest Post: Ethics, Literature and the Problem of Goodness

After thinking about evil in Hannah Arendt’s work, I decided to spend some time exploring the meaning(s) of goodness as it appears in fiction and ethical thought. Not surprisingly, goodness is no easier to define, decipher, construe than its evil twin.[1]  In her reading of Herman Melville’s Billy Budd in On Revolution (1963), published the same year as Eichmann in Jerusalem, Arendt he claimed that “active goodness” or “goodness beyond virtue” was destructive of settled legal and political institutions. In fact, Arendt had raised the issue of private goodness before in her essay “What is Authority?”(1958). There she observed that, Read more