Country Path Conversations [207–209]

Older Man: But may we then, if we think clearly, say that evil is malice? Rather, as the name says, malice [das Bösartige] is of the nature [Art] of evil [Bösen], and is an outflow of it.

Younger Man: But as long as with the name “evil” one always means only the morally reprehensible, then the statement, evil is malice, may very well have a sense, assuming that we think of malice on the basis of something other than morality [dem Sittlichen].

Older Man: On the basis of what else should we think it?

Younger Man: On the basis of precisely that toward which the word “malicious” [»bösartig«] refers us. Malice is insurgency, which rests in furiousness, indeed such that this furiousness [Grimmige] [208] in a certain sense conceals its rage [Ingrimm], but at the same time always threatens with it. The essence of evil is the rage of insurgency, which never entirely breaks out, and which, when it does break out, still disguises itself, and in its hidden threatening is often as if it were not.

Older Man: It could thus have a profound sense to say that evil is malice.

Younger Man: The fury which essentially prevails in evil lets loose the insurgency and the turmoil that we presage on all sides, where we encounter a dissolution that seems to be unstoppable.

Older Man: If, however, evil rests in malice—which in itself is infuriated about its own fury, and thereby becomes ever more furious—then I could almost think that malice is something pertaining to the will.

Younger Man: Perhaps in general the will itself is what is evil.

Older Man: I shy from even surmising something so audacious.

Younger Man: I too only said “perhaps,” and what I said is also not my thought, even though it has not let go of me ever since I once heard it. On that occasion too, this thought was expressed only as a surmise.

Older Man: The reference to evil has helped me to see a bit more clearly what we said about the devastation, above all in regard to how we can encounter the devastation—I mean, how we may in no way encounter it.

Younger Man: What you are now thinking of is not clear to me.

Older Man: The devastation that we have in mind, and that we [209] surely must begin to think still more rigorously, is not evil in the sense of a moral badness of the supposed originators of this devastation. Rather, evil itself, as malice, is devastating. Hence, a moral indignation, even if it makes the world’s general public into its mouthpiece, is not capable of doing anything against the devastation.

Younger Man: And why not then?

Older Man: Because moral superiority is not in a position to grasp, much less abolish or even mitigate, evil.

Country Path Conversations (GA 77) Evening Conversation by Martin Heidegger