There is something wrong in this world

or should I write “there is no absolute barrier between good and evil”?

One has to realize that there’s no absolute barrier between good and evil. There’s no absolute polarization between the wonderfully good and the horribly evil, and that people who see themselves as trying to do good can inadvertently enter into evil.

I had the opportunity yesterday to watch a documentation about the Lifton interviews of the Nazi doctors by Wolfgang Richter “Wenn Ärzte töten” (SZ , trailer). Richter was accompanied by Christiane Clemm who did all the translations more than 30 years ago. There were moving moments both during the calm narration of the documentation but also afterwards when we could ask Richter and Clemm for more details.

I always wondered how an American psychiatrist could have done these interviews in German but had the impression that Clemm was an congenial translator for him.

The remark that impressed me most was about the many Nazi doctors who had books of Konrad Lorenz on their shelves in the postwar period. They were admiring a man who clearly supported the Nazi ideas of “racial hygiene” (Lifton cites Lorenz in his book) but made a postwar career eventually sharing the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for discoveries in individual and social behavior patterns”. As Clemm confirmed, none of the Nazi doctors showed any sign of sorrow.

While doing quite a lot of research into evolutionary medicine, I feel that some present day ideas of evolutionary biology are close to Lorenz strange view of the world.

„Es ging mir darum zu zeigen, daß die zunehmende Domestikation des Menschen seine Menschlichkeit bedroht.“ Durch Domestikation verursachte Störungen arteigenen Verhaltens. in: Zeitschrift für angewandte Psychologie und Charakterkunde 59 (1, 2), S. 2 – S. 81

There is something wrong in this world when biologistic ideas are beginning to dominate.