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Picture of Neither Good Nor Bad

Neither Good Nor Bad

Why Human Beings Behave How They Do

Author(s): Gerhard Besier, Katarzyna Stokłosa

Book Description

When confronted by a range of violent actions perpetrated by lone individuals, contemporary society exhibits a constant tendency to react in terms of helpless, even perplexed horror. Seeking explanations for the apparently inexplicable, commentators often hurry to declare the perpetrators as “evil”. This question is not restricted to individuals: history has repeatedly demonstrated how groups and even entire nations can embark on a criminal plan united by the conviction that they were fighting for a good and just cause. Which circumstances occasioned such actions? What was their motivation?

Applying a number of historical, scientific and social-scientific approaches to this question, this study produces an integrative portrait of the reasons for human behavior and advances a number of different interpretations for their genesis. The book makes clear the extent to which we live in socially-constructed realities in which we cling for dear life to a range of conceptions and beliefs which can all too easily fall apart in situations of crisis.


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-5903-5
ISBN-10: 1-4438-5903-6
Date of Publication: 01/07/2014
Pages / Size: 388 / A5
Price: £49.99


Gerhard Besier is a historian (PhD), theologian (DD) and psychologist (Diploma). In 2009, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Lund, Sweden. He has held chairs in Contemporary (Church) History at the Universities of Berlin, Heidelberg and Dresden, and is currently Director of the Sigmund Neumann Institute in Dresden. His book The Holy See and Hitler's Germany was published by Palgrave in 2007, and was followed last year by European Dictatorships: A comparative history of the twentieth century, co-edited with Katarzyna Stoklosa, and published by CSP.