Projektgebundenes Seminar – The Devil in Modern Thought

Helmut Draxler
Art Sciences and Art Education, Art Theory
2021W, Project - bound Seminar (PGS), 10.0 ECTS, 4.0 semester hours, course number S03864


Why does the devil remain such an exceedingly popular phenomenon of modernity? Is it not the very promise of the Enlightenment and rationalism to drive out the last vestiges of the demonic and thus remove the very basis of evil, the ground of the Satanic? But the dream of reason awakens monsters, as Goya already knew, and the extreme atrocities of modernity seem to require a category to make them understandable. But is a theological image - the embodiment of a quasi-divine principle of negation - really suitable to describe the particular nationalist, colonialist, and capitalist atrocities of modernity? For some time now, at least, there has been a growing suspicion that evil is not something that befalls the world from a transcendent outside; that it is, rather, in the very inner core of the principle of modernity itself. It is precisely the movement [of Modernity] toward an inner-worldly salvation that, in a movement of repulsion, repeatedly engenders evil in the first place. The belief in such a good and the very effort to instantiate it far from overcoming evil, actually requires it renewed determination in order to posit the good in the first place. Only from such a dialectic can the function of evil in the political and cultural thinking of modernity be adequately addressed.

The seminar will attempt to trace "dialectical images" of evil in literature, film, and philosophy in modernity. This effort will help us to thematize not only the devilish other but our own - moral, aesthetic, or political - dealings with the devil within us.


Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals. A polemic, 1887

Carl Schmidt, The Concept of the Political, 1932

Max Horkheimer, Theodor W. Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment. Philosophical Fragments, 1948

Simone de Beauvoir, „Shall we burn de Sade?“ (1951)

Jacques Lacan, "Kant with Sade," (1963) in Writings II, 2015

Hannah Arendt, On Evil. A Lecture on Questions of Ethics, (1965), 2007.

Jacques Derrida, Rogues. Two Essays on Reason, 2005

Terry Eagleton, On Evil, 2010

Silvia Federicci, Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body, and Primitive Accumulation, 2017

Jörg Noller, Theorien des Bösen zur Einführung, 2017

Paul B. Preciado, Can the Monster Speak? Report to an Academy of Psychoanalysts, 2021

Examination Modalities

Informationen hierzu in der  Vorbesprechung am 15.10.2021, 14 Uhr


Das Seminar ist nur für Studierende des MA Kunst- und Kulturwissenschaften zugänglich. Anmeldungen wegen Corona bitte ausschließlich via base Angewandte.

Informationen bei Barbara Praher (Koordination Studiengang):


15 October 2021, 14:00–17:00 Seminar Room 21
22 October 2021, 14:00–17:00 Seminar Room 21
29 October 2021, 14:00–17:00 Seminar Room 21
05 November 2021, 14:00–17:00 Seminar Room 21
12 November 2021, 14:00–17:00 Seminar Room 21
19 November 2021, 14:00–17:00 Seminar Room 21
26 November 2021, 14:00–17:00 Seminar Room 21
03 December 2021, 14:00–17:00 Seminar Room 21
10 December 2021, 14:00–17:00 Seminar Room 21
17 December 2021, 14:00–17:00 Seminar Room 21

Course Enrolment

Until 15 October 2021, 12:00
Via online registration

Kunst- und Kulturwissenschaften (Master): Project-bound Seminars: Project-bound Seminar 1-3

Co-registration: not possible

Attending individual courses: not possible