Learning check

1. Written assignment: translation

Translate the following text into English:


Indtil 1960’erne har man betragtet ondskabsfulde handlinger som noget usædvanligt og ekstremt, der var udtryk for en mental sygdom. Man havde svært ved at forestille sig, at ganske almindelige mennesker kunne begå uforklarlige og uhyrlige forbrydelser, og man var lettet, når der var en biologisk forklaring.

Hvordan kan vi definere ondskab og ondskabsfulde handlinger? Det er noget, det skader andre, og det kan være både fysisk og psykisk. Man forringer altså ofrets livskvalitet, men for at man kan tale om virkelig ondskab, må man tilføje, at det skal være en intentionel handling og at det skal være en handling ud over det almindelige. Desuden skal lovovertræderen ikke udvise medfølelse eller empati for offeret på gerningstidspunktet.


Text-related assignment

1. Written assignment: blog; discussion of the definition of evil.

Write an entry for a blog where you discuss whether there can be a universal definition of evil or whether your concept of evil is determined by your social or cultural background. Which acts would for instance be universally considered evil? Could there be situations where evil acts could be justified? (Use about 150-200 words.) You may find it useful to discuss your attitudes in groups first for inspiration.


Wider contexts

1. Written assignment: Lone Frank’s article “Ondskabens problem”

Read Lone Frank, “Ondskabens problem” (Weekendavisen, July 29th, 2011) and give a summary of the article in English (use about 200 words).


Wider contexts

2. Historical, sociological and cultural context: Hannah Arendt’s concept of evil

Compare the attitude to evil expressed in the article “Bad or Mad?” and Hannah Arendt’s concept of evil which she encapsulated in the phrase “the banality of evil”. By this she meant that the great evils of history in general, and the Holocaust in particular, were not carried out by psychopaths or sociopaths, but rather by completely ordinary people who accepted the ideology of their state and therefore believed that their actions were normal.

You may want to look for further information about Hannah Arendt and her book from 1963, “Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil” on the internet.


Wider contexts

3. Historical, sociological and cultural context: statement by Edmund Burke

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”

Attributed to Edmund Burke


Relate this quotation to the article you have just read.

a) Would the writer agree? Why/why not?

b) Do you agree?


Wider contexts

4. Sociological and cultural context: British newspapers and text message assignment

Matrix groups

a) In groups of four:

1. find an article which deals with evil in one of the British online newspapers mentioned below.

The GuardianThe IndependentThe Daily MailThe Daily TelegraphThe Sun


2. In pairs: write a text message about it to the other pair in your group. Compare your messages and account for differences.

3. Find out what is characteristic of the article as regards lay-out, the use of photos, choice of vocabulary and sentence structure.


b) Form new groups where the various newspapers are represented:

  1. In your new groups present your results and discuss differences in the ways the various newspapers deal with evil.

Wider contexts

5. Sociological and cultural context: find information about Anders Behring Breivik

Find information on the internet about Anders Behring Breivik and discuss if you can place him as ‘bad or mad’.