From Moral Annihilation to Luciferism: Aspects of a Phenomenology of Violence


Do the various ascriptions of “violence,” e.g., to rape, logical reasoning, racist legislation, unqualified statements, institutions of class and/or gender inequity, etc., mean something identically the same, something analogous, or equivocal and context-bound? This paper argues for both an analogous sense as well as an exemplary essence and finds support in Aristotle’s theory of anger as, as Sokolowski has put it, a form of moral annihilation, culminating in a level of rage that crosses a threshold. Here we adopt Sartre’s analysis of the “threshold of violence” as indicating a basic “existential” possibility wherein persons may and do adopt a posture of anti-god. This has considerable symmetry with the mythic and theological figure in the Abrahamic religions who is called “Lucifer.” This personage, at a unique timeless moment, found himself empowered to assume the right to exercise an infinite will-act which tolerated no superior normative perspective. I argue that this mythic stance is a live option for persons. Further, modern day nation-state military preparedness, where nuclear weaponry is a major tool of foreign policy, is a way of putting on ice and holding in reserve, but button ready, the onto-logical madness of the Luciferian moment.


violence, moral and ontological annihilation, luciferism, Other, Aristotle, Sartre, Sokolowski

How to cite:

Hart, James G. “From Moral Annihilation to Luciferism: Aspects of a Phenomenology of Violence.” Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 1, no. 1 (2017): 39–60. https://doi.org/10.26319/EIDOS-001-PHENOMENOLOGY-OF-VIOLENCE.


James G. Hart
Indiana University, Bloomington Indiana, USA


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