Euler ’s wave theory of light developed from a mere description of this notion based on an analogy between sound and light to a more and more mathematical elaboration on that notion. He was very successful in predicting the shape of achromatic lenses based on a new dispersion law that we now know is wrong. Most of his mathematical arguments were, however, guesswork without any solid physical reasoning. Guesswork is not always a bad thing in physics if it leads to (...) new experiments or makes the theory coherent with other theories. And Euler tried to find such experiments. He saw the construction of achromatic lenses, the explanation of colors of thin plates and of the opaque bodies as proof of his theory. When it came to the fundamental issues, the correctness of his dispersion law and the prediction of frequencies of light he was not at all successful. His wave theory degenerated, and it was not until Augustin Fresnel introduced transverse waves and an elaborate notion of interference that the wave theory again progressed. (shrink)
Historians of science have proposed many theories to explain why Copernicus rejected the Ptolemaic system and advanced his own heliocentric system. In support of his new cosmological system Copernicus always employed theoretical considerations and never the existence of discrepancies between the positions given in the Tables and those observed. It is shown that the general acceptance of the heliocentric system through the work of the astronomers resulted not so much from empirical considerations but rather from the fact that this system (...) was suited to a comprehensive, general dynamics. (shrink)
This paper presents a simple argument against life being the product of design. The argument rests on three points. We can conceive of the debate in terms of likelihoods, in the technical sense – how probable the design hypothesis renders our evidence, versus how probable the competing Darwinian hypothesis renders that evidence. God, as traditionally conceived, had many more options by which to bring about life as we observe it than were available to natural selection. That is, the relevant parameters (...) were, in many cases, far more constrained under natural selection. Utterly mundane features of the world, like that the earth is very old, are actually powerful evidence that the world was not designed, since that outcome was optional on the design hypothesis but nearly inevitable on natural selection. (shrink)
It is natural for those with permissive attitudes toward abortion to suppose that, if they have examined all of the arguments they know against abortion and have concluded that they fail, their moral deliberations are at an end. Surprisingly, this is not the case, as I argue. This is because the mere risk that one of those arguments succeeds can generate a moral reason that counts against the act. If this is so, then liberals may be mistaken about the morality (...) of abortion. However, conservatives who claim that considerations of risk rule out abortion in general are mistaken as well. Instead, risk-based considerations generate an important but not necessarily decisive reason to avoid abortion. The more general issue that emerges is how to accommodate fallibilism about practical judgment in our decision-making. (shrink)
Bioethical research has tended to focus on theoretical discussion of the principles on which the analysis of ethical issues in biomedicine should be based. But this discussion often seems remote from biomedical practice where researchers and physicians confront ethical problems. On the other hand, published empirical research on the ethical reasoning of health care professionals offer only descriptions of how physicians and nurses actually reason ethically. The question remains whether these descriptions have any normative implications for nurses and physicians? In (...) this article, we illustrate an approach that integrates empirical research into the formulation of normative ethical principles using the moral-philosophical method of Wide Reflective Equilibrium (WRE). The research method discussed in this article was developed in connection with the project ‘Bioethics in Theory and Practice’. The purpose of this project is to investigate ethical reasoning in biomedical practice in Denmark empirically. In this article, we take the research method as our point of departure, but we exclusively discuss the theoretical framework of the method, not its empirical results. We argue that the descriptive phenomenological hermeneutical method developed by Lindseth and Norberg (2004) and Pedersen (1999) can be combined with the theory of WRE to arrive at a decision procedure and thus a foundation for the formulation of normative ethical principles. This could provide health care professionals and biomedical researchers with normative principles about how to analyse, reason and act in ethically difficult situations in their practice. We also show how to use existing bioethical principles as inspiration for interpreting the empirical findings of qualitative studies. This may help researchers design their own empirical studies in the field of ethics. (shrink)
I introduce a mathematical account of expectation based on a qualitative criterion of coherence for qualitative comparisons between gambles (or random quantities). The qualitative comparisons may be interpreted as an agent’s comparative preference judgments over options or more directly as an agent’s comparative expectation judgments over random quantities. The criterion of coherence is reminiscent of de Finetti’s quantitative criterion of coherence for betting, yet it does not impose an Archimedean condition on an agent’s comparative judgments, it does not require the (...) binary relation reflecting an agent’s comparative judgments to be reflexive, complete or even transitive, and it applies to an absolutely arbitrary collection of gambles, free of structural conditions (e.g., closure, measurability, etc.). Moreover, unlike de Finetti’s criterion of coherence, the qualitative criterion respects the principle of weak dominance, a standard of rational decision making that obliges an agent to reject a gamble that is possibly worse and certainly no better than another gamble available for choice. Despite these weak assumptions, I establish a qualitative analogue of de Finetti’s Fundamental Theorem of Prevision, from which it follows that any coherent system of comparative expectations can be extended to a weakly ordered coherent system of comparative expectations over any collection of gambles containing the initial set of gambles of interest. The extended weakly ordered coherent system of comparative expectations satisfies familiar additivity and scale invariance postulates (i.e., independence) when the extended collection forms a linear space. In the course of these developments, I recast de Finetti’s quantitative account of coherent prevision in the qualitative framework adopted in this article. I show that comparative previsions satisfy qualitative analogues of de Finetti’s famous bookmaking theorem and his Fundamental Theorem of Prevision.The results of this article complement those of another article (Pedersen, Strictly coherent preferences, no holds barred, Manuscript, 2013). I explain how those results entail that any coherent weakly ordered system of comparative expectations over a unital linear space can be represented by an expectation function taking values in a (possibly non-Archimedean) totally ordered field extension of the system of real numbers. The ordered field extension consists of formal power series in a single infinitesimal, a natural and economical representation that provides a relief map tracing numerical non-Archimedean features to qualitative non-Archimedean features. (shrink)
Robert Sokolowski: Phenomenology of the Human Person Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s10746-010-9145-x Authors Hans Pedersen, Department of Philosophy, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA USA Journal Human Studies Online ISSN 1572-851X Print ISSN 0163-8548 Journal Volume Volume 33 Journal Issue Volume 33, Numbers 2-3.
Jean-Philippe Deranty, Beyond Communication: A Critical Study of Axel Honneth's Social Philosophy Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 497-500 Authors Jørgen Pedersen, The Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities, Bergen, Norway Journal Critical Horizons: A Journal of Philosophy & Social Theory Online ISSN 1568-5160 Print ISSN 1440-9917 Journal Volume Volume 11 Journal Issue Volume 11, Number 3 / 2010.
Empirical evidence indicates that bereaved spouses are surprisingly muted in their responses to their loss, and that after a few months many of the bereaved return to their emotional baseline. Psychologists think this is good news: resilience is adaptive, and we should welcome evidence that there is less suffering in the world. I explore various reasons we might have for regretting our resilience, both because of what resilience tells us about our own significance vis-à-vis loved ones, and because resilience may (...) render us incapable of comprehending how things really stand, valuewise. I also compare our actual dispositions to extreme alternatives (“sub-resilience” and “super-resilience”), and consider whether we might endorse (plain) resilience as a kind of mean. (shrink)
Guo Xiang's (252-312) reading of the famous "Butterfly Dream" passage from the Zhuangzi differs significantly from modern readings, particularly those that follow the Giles translation. Guo Xiang's view is based on the assumption that the character of Zhuang Zhou has no recollection of his dream after awakening and therefore does not entertain doubts about what or who he really is. This leads to a specific understanding of the allegorical and philosophical meaning of the text that stands in contradistinction to most (...) modern interpretations. A translation of the Butterfly passage and commentary are appended. (shrink)
Consider our attitude toward painful and pleasant experiences depending on when they occur. A striking but rarely discussed feature of our attitude which Derek Parfit has emphasized is that we strongly wish painful experiences to lie in our past and pleasant experiences to lie in our future. Our asymmetrical attitudes toward future and past pains and pleasures can be forcefully illustrated by means of a thought-experiment described by Parfit (1984, 165) which I will paraphrase as follows: You are in the (...) hospital to have an extremely painful but completely safe operation for which you can be given no anaesthetic. In order to ease recovery, you know that the hospital will give you drugs that cause you to forget your operation as soon as it is completed. You wake up, not remembering having gone to sleep, and ask the nurse if your operation has been completed. She tells you that there were two patients for this operation and she cannot remember which you are: either you already had your operation and it was the longest such operation ever performed, lasting ten hours, or else you are the other patient in which case your operation is imminent, but will last only one hour. 1. I wish to thank Sarah Broadie for comments on a version of this paper and Derek Parfit for conversations on this subject. (shrink)
Engineering science is a scientific discipline that from the point of view of epistemology and the philosophy of science has been somewhat neglected. When engineering science was under philosophical scrutiny it often just involved the question of whether engineering is a spin-off of pure and applied science and their methods. We, however, hold that engineering is a science governed by its own epistemology, methodology and ontology. This point is systematically argued by comparing the different sciences with respect to a particular (...) set of characterization criteria. (shrink)
'Possible worlds' have been one of the true conundrum notions in philosophy. On the hand possible worlds have proved very useful in philosophical logic for obtaining significant formal results with sunbstantial philosophical import. Yet on the other they have generated much noise and commotion in especially metaphysics and epistemology. From a logical point of view they are useful tools or conceptual constructions, from a philosophical point of view troublesome entitites generating endless discussions.
One of the cornerstones of modern medicine is the search for what causes diseases to develop. A conception of multifactorial disease causes has emerged over the years. Theories of disease causation, however, have not quite been developed in accordance with this view. It is the purpose of this paper to provide a fundamental explication of aspects of causation relevant for discussing causes of disease.The first part of the analysis will discuss discrimination between singular and general causality. Singular causality, as in (...) the specific patient, is a relation between a concrete sequence of causally linked events. General causation, e.g. as in disease etiology, means various categories of causal relations between event types. The paper introduces the concept of a reference case serving as a source for causal inference, reaching beyond the concept of general causality. (shrink)
Holism in interwar Germany provides an excellent example for social and political in- fluences on scientific developments. Deeply impressed by the ubiquitous invocation of a cultural crisis, biologists, physicians, and psychologists presented holistic accounts as an alternative to the “mechanistic worldview” of the nineteenth century. Although the ideological background of these accounts is often blatantly obvious, many holistic scientists did not content themselves with a general opposition to a mechanistic worldview but aimed at a rational foundation of their holistic projects. (...) This article will discuss the work of Kurt Goldstein, who is known for both his groundbreaking contributions to neuropsychology and his holistic philosophy of human nature. By focusing on Goldstein’s neurolinguistic research, I want to reconstruct the empirical foundations of his holistic program without ignoring its cultural background. In this sense, Goldstein’s work provides a case study for the formation of a scientific theory through the complex interplay between specific empirical evidences and the general cultural developments of the Weimar Republic. (shrink)
This paper re-examines Kurt Lewin's classic leadership studies, using them as a concrete example to explore his wider legacy to social psychology. Lewin distinguished between advanced “Galileian” science, which was based on analysing particular examples, and backward “Aristotelian” science, which used statistical analyses. Close examination of the way Lewin wrote about the leadership studies reveals that he used the sort of binary, value-laden concepts that he criticised as “Aristotelian”. Such concepts, especially those of “democracy” and “autocracy”, affected the way (...) that he analysed the results and the ways that later social scientists have understood, and misunderstood, the studies. It is argued that Lewin's famous motto—“there is nothing as practical as a good theory”—is too simple to fit the tensions between the leadership studies and his own views of what counts as good theory. (shrink)
This article traces Kurt H. Wolff’s involvement with Italy, from his first sojourn in the 1930s as a German Jewish intellectual in exile to the end of his life. Wolff developed profound ties with the country that hosted him, and that he was forced to abandon once racial laws were introduced there on the eve of World War II. Nonetheless, throughout his life he regarded Italy as an elective homeland of sorts. Wolff’s Italian experience is revisited through a detailed (...) examination of the places where he resided, his activities as a student, teacher, and scholar, and the many individuals with whom he associated, many of whom became his lifelong friends and collaborators. The documentary evidence collected here includes unpublished conversations with some of Wolff’s Italian connections and serves for a consideration of how his ties to Italy had an impact on the development of his sociological and esthetic theories. (shrink)
In his ontological works Kurt Grelling tries to give a rigorous analysis of the foundations of the so-called Gestalt-psychology. Gestalten are peculiar emergent qualities, ontologically dependent on their foundations, but nonetheless non reducible to them. Grelling shows that this concept, as used in psychology and ontology, is often ambiguous. He distinguishes two important meanings in which the word “Gestalt” is used: Gestalten as structural aspects available to transposition and Gestalten as causally self-regulating wholes. Gestalten in the first meaning are, (...) according to Grelling, “equivalence classes of correspondences”, while Gestalten as self-regulating wholes have more to do with relations of ontological dependence. Grelling’s clarification of the concept of Gestalt is doubtless an excellent piece of philosophical analysis, but at the end of the day it turns out that his analysis captures at best only a part of intuitions traditionally connected with the notion of Gestalt. (shrink)
This volume represents the beginning of a new stage of research in interpreting Kurt Gödel’s philosophy in relation to his scientific work. It is more than a collection of essays on Gödel. It is in fact the product of a long enduring international collaboration on Kurt Gödel’s Philosophical Notebooks (Max Phil). New and significant material has been made accessible to a group of experts, on which they rely for their articles. In addition to this, Gödel’s Nachlass is presented (...) anew by the current state of research and the corpus of Gödel’s Philosophical Notebooks (Max Phil) is described in its entirety for the first time in its details. The volume is sub-divided into three parts. The fist part is dedicated to descriptions of the Gödel Nachlass that is to be found in The Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center des Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. This part starts with an updated overview on Kurt Gödel’s Nachlass by the current state of research and is followed by a detailed description of Gödel’s Philosophical Notebooks (Max Phil). The second part is dedicated by several Gödel scholars to the close reading of single remarks in the Max Phil. And the third part of this volume unites a variety of papers by experts in Gödel studies, logic, and Leibniz as well as by some enthusiasts for Gödel. These papers are nearly all written for this volume. (shrink)
It is shown in this article in how far one has to have a clear picture of Gödel’s philosophy and scientific thinking at hand (and also the philosophical positions of other philosophers in the history of Western Philosophy) in order to interpret one single Philosophical Remark by Gödel. As a single remark by Gödel (very often) mirrors his whole philosophical thinking, Gödel’s Philosophical Remarks can be seen as a philosophical monadology. This is so for two reasons mainly: Firstly, because it (...) pictures a monadology already via its form. And secondly, because Gödel wanted to establish in his Philosophical Remarks a modern monadology in adapting the philosophical principles of Leibniz’s monadology to modern science. This article will only deal with the first aspect that has been mentioned namely that a single remark by Gödel (very often) mirrors his whole philosophy (at the time) for example: set theory, perception and intuition of mathematical objects and axioms, the nature of the human mind, the concept and existence of God, and so on. This renders it extremely difficult to interpret Gödel’s philosophical remarks but interpreting it provides also a deep insight in Gödel’s philosophical thoughts. (shrink)
In this first extended treatment of his life and work, Hao Wang, who was in close contact with Godel in his last years, brings out the full subtlety of Godel's ideas and their connection with grand themes in the history of mathematics and ...
Kurt Gdel was the most outstanding logician of the 20th century and a giant in the field. This book is part of a five volume set that makes available all of Gdels writings. The first three volumes, already published, consist of the papers and essays of Gdel. The final two volumes of the set deal with Gdel's correspondence with his contemporary mathematicians, this fifth volume consists of material from correspondents from H-Z.
Kurt Gdel was the most outstanding logician of the 20th century and a giant in the field. This book is part of a five volume set that makes available all of Gdel's writings. The first three volumes, already published, consist of the papers and essays of Gdel. The final two volumes of the set deal with Gdel's correspondence with his contemporary mathematicians, this fourth volume consists of material from correspondents from A-G.
Kurt Gödel was the most outstanding logician of the twentieth century, famous for his hallmark works on the completeness of logic, the incompleteness of number theory, and the consistency of the axiom of choice and the continuum hypothesis. He is also noted for his work on constructivity, the decision problem, and the foundations of computability theory, as well as for the strong individuality of his writings on the philosophy of mathematics. He is less well known for his discovery of (...) unusual cosmological models for Einstein's equations, in theory permitting time travel into the past. The Collected Works is a landmark resource that draws together a lifetime of creative thought and accomplishment. The first two volumes were devoted to Gödel's publications in full, and the third volume featured a wide selection of unpublished articles and lecture texts found in Gödel's Nachlass. These long-awaited final two volumes contain Gödel's correspondence of logical, philosophical, and scientific interest. Volume IV covers A to G, with H to Z in volume V; in addition, Volume V contains a full inventory of Gödel's Nachlass. L All volumes include introductory notes that provide extensive explanatory and historical commentary on each body of work, English translations of material originally written in German, and a complete bibliography of all works cited. Kurt Gödel: Collected Works is designed to be useful and accessible to as wide an audience as possible without sacrificing scientific or historical accuracy. The only comprehensive edition of Gödel's work available, it will be an essential part of the working library of professionals and students in logic, mathematics, philosophy, history of science, and computer science and all others who wish to be acquainted with one of the great minds of the twentieth century. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: Part I. General: 1. The Gödel editorial project: a synopsis Solomon Feferman; 2. Future tasks for Gödel scholars John W. Dawson, Jr., and Cheryl A. Dawson; Part II. Proof Theory: 3. Kurt Gödel and the metamathematical tradition Jeremy Avigad; 4. Only two letters: the correspondence between Herbrand and Gödel Wilfried Sieg; 5. Gödel's reformulation of Gentzen's first consistency proof for arithmetic: the no-counter-example interpretation W. W. Tait; 6. Gödel on intuition and on Hilbert's finitism W. (...) W. Tait; 7. The Gödel hierarchy and reverse mathematics Stephen G. Simpson ; 8. On the outside looking in: a caution about conservativeness John P. Burgess; Part III. Set Theory: 9. Gödel and set theory Akihiro Kanamori; 10. Generalizations of Gödel's universe of constructible sets Sy-David Friedman; 11. On the question of absolute undecidability Peter Koellner; Part IV. Philosophy of Mathematics: 12. What did Gödel believe and when did he believe it? Martin Davis; 13. On Gödel's way in: the influence of Rudolf Carnap Warren Goldfarb; 14. Gödel and Carnap Steve Awodey and A. W. Carus; 15. On the philosophical development of Kurt Gödel Mark van Atten and Juliette Kennedy; 16. Platonism and mathematical intuition in Kurt Gödel's thought Charles Parsons; 17. Gödel's conceptual realism Donald A. Martin. (shrink)
Kurt Gödel was the most outstanding logician of the twentieth century, famous for his hallmark works on the completeness of logic, the incompleteness of number theory, and the consistency of the axiom of choice and the continuum hypothesis. He is also noted for his work on constructivity, the decision problem, and the foundations of computability theory, as well as for the strong individuality of his writings on the philosophy of mathematics. He is less well known for his discovery of (...) unusual cosmological models for Einstein's equations, in theory permitting time travel into the past. The Collected Works is a landmark resource that draws together a lifetime of creative thought and accomplishment. The first two volumes were devoted to Gödel's publications in full, and the third volume featured a wide selection of unpublished articles and lecture texts found in Gödel's Nachlass. These long-awaited final two volumes contain Gödel's correspondence of logical, philosophical, and scientific interest. Volume IV covers A to G, with H to Z in volume V; in addition, Volume V contains a full inventory of Gödel's Nachlass. All volumes include introductory notes that provide extensive explanatory and historical commentary on each body of work, English translations of material originally written in German, and a complete bibliography of all works cited. Kurt Gödel: Collected Works is designed to be useful and accessible to as wide an audience as possible without sacrificing scientific or historical accuracy. The only comprehensive edition of Gödel's work available, it will be an essential part of the working library of professionals and students in logic, mathematics, philosophy, history of science, and computer science and all others who wish to be acquainted with one of the great minds of the twentieth century. (shrink)
In the early 1920s, Hans Reichenbach and Kurt Lewin presented two topological accounts of time that appear to be interrelated in more than one respect. Despite their different approaches, their underlying idea is that time order is derived from specific structural properties of the world. In both works, moreover, the notion of genidentity--i.e., identity through or over time--plays a crucial role. Although it is well known that Reichenbach borrowed this notion from Kurt Lewin, not much has been written (...) about their relationship, nor about the way Lewin implemented this notion in his own work in order to ground his topology. This paper examines these two early versions of the topology of time, and follows the extent of Lewin’s influence on Reichenbach’s proposal. (shrink)
John P. Burgess kritisiert Kurt Gödels Begriff der mathematischen oder rationalen Anschauung und erläutert, warum heuristische Intuition dasselbe leistet wie rationale Anschauung, aber ganz ohne ontologisch überflüssige Vorannahmen auskommt. Laut Burgess müsste Gödel einen Unterschied zwischen rationaler Anschauung und so etwas wie mathematischer Ahnung, aufzeigen können, die auf unbewusster Induktion oder Analogie beruht und eine heuristische Funktion bei der Rechtfertigung mathematischer Aussagen einnimmt. Nur, wozu benötigen wir eine solche Annahme? Reicht es nicht, wenn die mathematische Intuition als Heuristik funktioniert? (...) Für Gödel sind Mengen Extensionen von Begriffen und er beharrt beispielsweise auf dem ontologischen Objektstatus von Mengen, weil Denken für ihn einen Input benötigt, den es selbst nicht zu liefern im Stande ist. Im Falle der mathematischen Anschauung darf dieser Input allerdings nicht subjektiv kontingent sein, wenn es sich um objektiv gültige Theorien handeln soll. (Zudem vertritt Gödel eine Korrespondenztheorie der Wahrheit.) Der Begriff der heuristischen Intuition, den Burgess expliziert, stammt hingegen nicht zuletzt aus der kognitiven Psychologie, der bei der Verarbeitung impliziter, also unbewusster Informationen ansetzt und so das menschliche Vermögen erklärt, Entscheidungen und Urteile zu fällen, ohne sich der Urteilsgrundlagen bewusst zu sein. Über den ontologischen oder erkenntnistheoretischen Status dieser Urteilsgrundlagen sagen diese Theorien nichts aus. Sie könnten auch subjektiv kontingent zustande gekommen sein. Ihr normativer Anspruch ergibt sich lediglich aus „dem Funktionieren“, nicht daraus, dass es sich um Gesetze des Wahrseins handelt. (shrink)
This is a book about the philosophy of time, and in particular the philosophy of the great logician Kurt Godel (1906-1978). It evaluates Godel's attempt to show that Einstein has not so much explained time as explained it away. Unlike recent more technical studies, it focuses on the reality of time. The book explores Godel's conception of time, existence, and truth with special reference to Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and Frege. In the light of this investigation an attempt is made (...) to shed light on such issues as the precise sense in which Godel believed in the possibility of time travel, the relationship of the reality of time to the objectivity of temporal becoming, and the significance of time for human existence.This is a book about the philosophy of time, and in particular the philosophy of the great logician Kurt Godel (1906-1978). It evaluates Godel's attempt to show that Einstein has not so much explained time as explained it away. Unlike recent more technical studies, it focuses on the reality of time. The book explores Godel's conception of time, existence, and truth with special reference to Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and Frege. In the light of this investigation an attempt is made to shed light on such issues as the precise sense in which Godel believed in the possibility of time travel, the relationship of the reality of time to the objectivity of temporal becoming, and the significance of time for human existence. (shrink)
The purpose of this article is to vindicate the viability of Kurt H. Wolff''s methodology of surrender-and-catch for the human and social sciences. The article is divided into three sections. The first section explicates the fundamental significance of surrender-and-catch and Wolff''s motivation for advocating its practice. The second section compares surrender-and-catch with phenomenological methodology as well as objective science and the province of the everyday. The third section illustrates surrender-and-catch through my own practice. In this section I contextualize surrender-and-catch (...) in a triangulated design, which exhibits its flexibility and compatibility for use in conjunction with other forms of research. (shrink)
This paper is a response to Niklas Möller’s (Philosophical Studies, 2013) recent criticism of our relational (Jazz) model of meaning of thin evaluative terms. Möller’s criticism rests on a confusion about the role of coordinating intentions in Jazz. This paper clarifies what’s distinctive and controversial about the Jazz proposal and explains why Jazz, unlike traditional accounts of meaning, is not committed to analycities.
Can sociology comprehend evil? The contemporary relevance of Kurt H. Wolff’s sociology is his lucid, critical vision of modernity which does not shy away from understanding what evil is. This is accompanied not by pessimism, but by trust in human beings and their positive ability to appeal to the moral conscience. Read today, Wolff’s pages must be placed in the category of a new understanding of the human subject and the diagnosis of our time, the request for which threads (...) in and out of contemporary social theory. Awareness of history, rejection of sociological nominalism, emphasis upon the role of the human subject in an unprecedented situation: in Wolff, these themes converge and invite us to open ourselves to the re-enchantment of the world. After describing with some detail the main concepts of Wolff’s sociological theory and phenomenological approach, the paper suggests a reading of the re-enchantment of the world in terms of a sociological confrontation with evil, which has all too often been bypassed by sociology. We cannot grasp the evildoer's motivations from the perspective of an autonomous, rationally disengaged and masterful subject which tends to eclipse emotive and embodied senses of selfhood. By suspending the taken-for-granted definitions which exist in mainstream literature, by making an excruciating effort in looking at or reading detailed descriptions of evildoing, by assuming the victim’s suffering as part of our sociological explanation, we can start understanding what evil is today and in what way it is connected to modernity. (shrink)