Using insights from behavioral science, a Holocaust survivor explores how evil actions can seem "moral" to the perpetrators and how we must alter our thinking to prevent this.
Confronting Evil describes Fred Emil Katz's two journeys in response to surviving the Holocaust. One journey is that of a survivor who tries to come to terms with his own survival, and who must cope with survival guilt as well as the sense of rootlessness that can go along with it. The other journey is that of a behavioral scientist who, after years of psychological denial, develops new ways of understanding and addressing genocide and other acts of social evil.
In an attempt to respond constructively to some of the major horrors of the past one hundred years, Katz emphasizes the moral context under which we live, which he calls the "Local Moral Universe." This Local Moral Universe can provide the umbrella for the most magnificently humane activities, yet it can also underwrite horrendously evil deeds. Therefore, it is crucial to understand how this Local Moral Universe comes about, how it exists as a distinct and identifiable entity, and the impact it has on human behavior. Only then can societies hope to prevent such horrors from happening in the future.
Fred Emil Katz is a former Professor of Sociology who taught at various universities in the United States and Israel, including the State University of New York at Buffalo and Tel Aviv University. He is the author of Ordinary People and Extraordinary Evil: A Report on the Beguilings of Evil, also published by SUNY Press, and Immediacy: How Our World Confronts Us and How We Confront Our World.